Are MBA Rankings REALLY Important?

What do the MBA rankings mean to you? What will they teach you? Should you trust them? Are MBA rankings REALLY important?

In our guide, MBA Rankings: What You Need to Know, newly updated and expanded for 2015, Linda Abraham will walk you through the process of locating the rankings, sifting through them for the important information, analyzing the relevant data, and then finally, USING that information to help you choose the best MBA program for YOU.

MBA Rankings: What you  need to know

The rankings ARE an important tool, but they’re also a tool that can easily be abused. Learn how to use the rankings properly when you download MBA Rankings: What You Need to Know today!

Are You Misusing the B-School Rankings?
Accepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy

PhD Funding Disparities

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How will you afford your Social Science Ph.D?

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that unequal funding for PhD students across disciplines is leading to an “unequal education,” where students in relatively flush disciplines (such as business and the STEM fields) enjoy more comfortable stipends, while those in the humanities and social sciences are left scrambling to find jobs off campus or take out loans to supplement their much smaller paychecks.

The Chronicle’s story focuses on grad students at the University of Houston—a PhD student in Business whose stipend of $33,000/yr puts her among the most generously-funded grad students, as well as students in the humanities and social sciences whose stipends started at a far more modest $11,000-$13,000 (even after recent, hard-won funding increases, funding in those departments is well under $20,000/yr).

There are many factors that contribute to this disparity, including the availability of research grants in the field, the competitive profile of the department, and the university’s investment in developing its reputation in the discipline (as well as what it is willing to do to recruit top students in the field).

As the Chronicle story makes clear, low stipends have multiple effects: students might be forced to take out loans to fund their degree, when they likely already carry debt from their undergrad education and the academic job market is ever more insecure. Or they might search for off-campus employment (often in violation of the terms of their PhD funding packages), which can slow their progress to their degrees and take time away from the work they need to do to be successful academically (publishing, university service, etc).

A recent piece in The Atlantic highlighted the problem of PhD student debt and compared the average debt burden across disciplines:

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Not only do students in the Humanities and Social Sciences take on more debt—more of them take on debt. The NSF survey for the same year found that while more than ¾ of engineers graduated without debt, over half of humanities PhDs had student loans.

There are other disparities, too: a study has found that Black and Latino PhDs, even in STEM fields, graduate with substantially more debt than their white counterparts.

What is there to be done about disparities in funding? Would higher stipends improve the PhD experience? What does all this mean for you, if you’re considering a PhD?

First off, a few schools have been considering ways of increasing their funding packages for students in the humanities and social sciences. Some have suggested funding fewer students at a higher level, or funding students at a higher level for fewer years.

Second, what should you be aware of as an applicant? I advise you to look into your funding options carefully—including outside and summer fellowships. Find out how many years the programs you’re targeting will guarantee funding for. Is summer funding available? What about travel funds for research or conferences? What is the cost of living? Finally: would you be willing to go into debt to earn a PhD? For me, the answer to that question was “no.” I was fortunate to have funding throughout grad school—but you don’t need me to tell you that living in Los Angeles on $15K a year required some careful budgeting! The experience also made me acutely aware of the benefits of applying for outside funding, which helped me finish debt free.

Plott Your Way to a PhD: 6 Topics in PhD Admissions

Rebecca BlusteinBy Dr. Rebecca BlusteinAccepted.com consultant since 2008, former Student Affairs Officer at UCLA’s Scholarship Resource Center, and author of the ebook, Financing Your Future: Winning Fellowships, Scholarships and Awards for Grad School. Dr. Blustein, who earned her Ph.D. at UCLA, assists our clients applying to MS, MA, and Ph.D. programs. She is happy to assist you with your grad school applications.

Related Resources:

Choosing a PhD Program: 3 Tips
• Is a PhD a Good Idea?
• STEM PhD Applicants: Strengthen Your Candidacy

Indian In IT Finds Her Fit At Anderson

Read more MBA student interviews

This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. We hope to offer you a candid picture of student life, and what you should consider as you prepare your MBA application. And now for an interview with Rohini Vaze…

Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? Can you share 3 fun facts about yourself?

Rohini: Sure! I am from Mumbai in India. I did my undergrad in electrical engineering from Pune and then worked at Tata Motors for three years. It was an amazing job where I got a 360 degree view of the business by working in sales, manufacturing and customer support and could take many initiatives and see them implemented. However, I always felt that I needed to learn frameworks that I could apply in my career, and so I came to business school to gain those skills. I also funded my friend’s startup during my time at Tata Motors and that got me interested in this space. So I am using these two years at business school to gain exposure to start-ups in California.

3 fun facts about me are:

1. I have travelled to 10 countries outside my country of birth.

2. I am a trustee at a non-profit organization in India to help underprivileged children learn English and computers.

3. I have been dancing since the age of five.

Accepted: Where are you in business school? What year?

Rohini: I am in my first year of Business School at UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Accepted: What is your favorite thing about Anderson so far? And if you could change one thing about the program, what would it be? 

Rohini: My favorite thing about Anderson has been the people and the exposure that it has given to me. Many schools are good at a single discipline but not so great at other industries, but Anderson is great for a variety of careers. This gives a lot of exposure to people who have very diverse backgrounds and I am sure it will be very helpful in the future. If I could change one thing, I would change the time at which the school starts. The quarter system makes recruiting harder since all other schools tend to have an advantage of starting a month earlier than Anderson, and thus those students have more time to gain valuable skills that will help them in seeking internships and full time positions.

Accepted: Can you tell us about your current internship? What role did UCLA play in helping you secure that position?

Rohini: I am currently pursuing a part-time internship at a Venture Capital Firm in Santa Monica and the opportunity came to me through UCLA itself. We have a website through our career center where companies that are in need of interns post about their opportunities. I applied to this internship after seeing the posting on the website and went through a company analysis and interview process before being offered this position. The part-time internship involves doing market research for companies that are being considered for funding through the Venture Capital Firm. What I really like about the internship is that the firm has good deal flow and provides real support to the entrepreneurs that they fund.

For the summer, I will be going to Amazon, and the Anderson career center was very helpful in giving me tips for preparation for the same. Moreover, my classmates as well as 2nd year students helped a lot with the preparation for the interviews!

Accepted: Which other business schools had you considered attending? How was UCLA the best fit for you?

Rohini: I always wanted a business school on the West Coast. I have a heard a lot about the cultural difference between the West and the East Coast schools and knew that I am a West Coast person. The other two criteria I had in mind were that I wanted a school in a city so that I could pursue part-time internships in parallel to school, as well as I wanted a school where there was a high concentration of people going into Hi-Tech. Thus, I had only considered attending UCLA, Berkeley and Stanford. I believe Anderson is a great fit for me since along with the above factors, Anderson has a very diverse crowd. The business school is really good for Finance and Consulting too, and I am confident that this exposure by being in an ‘all-rounder’ school will be very helpful in my career in the future.

Accepted: I see that you did fantastic on your GMAT – can you share a few tips with our readers?

Rohini: Thanks. There are a few things that I think helped me a lot with my GMAT score:

• Start with the simplest books and then move on to the harder ones. The simpler books help to re-learn the concepts from high school that most of us have forgotten. I started preparing with Princeton books and then went on to Manhattan and Kaplan. I also advise my friends to study from the official GMAT book the last. The official book tends to have the simpler questions in the 400-600 range and are not the best questions to practice when you are aiming for a great GMAT score. However, being able to easily solve these questions in the last couple of days when you need something to reduce your anxiousness is the best way to use the Official GMAT book.

• Check your mistakes to find patterns that will help you to focus your further preparation on a particular topic that is common for GMAT exams.

• Spend adequate time on the first 10 questions. I took the older format GMAT where the first 10 questions can really make or break your final score. Thus checking for silly mistakes in reading the question or a calculation error in not calculating answers till the end helps in getting a good score.

• Most importantly, practice a LOT! This is probably the most important tip since one of my biggest hurdles with GMAT was managing to concentrate for the whole 4 hours. During practice exams, I observed that I would make a lot of silly mistakes in the last hour and get lower scores. Thus, I made it a point to get used to the long hours and took one practice exam every three days. I believe this can really make the difference between a 700 and a 750 score.

Accepted: Do you have any other advice for our b-school applicants? 

Rohini: Start the application early and enjoy the process! Hopefully, there will be many things that you will learn about yourself through the application process. Also, focus on a few schools that you really want to get into and gather as much information about the school from as many sources as possible – you might have the best application but you won’t get any admit unless you can articulate “why this school” well.

For one-on-one guidance on your b-school applications, please see our MBA Application Packages.

To read more a bout Rohini, you can check out her blog at Rohini’s Blog. Thank you Rohini for sharing your story with us – we wish you much success! 

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs

Accepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy
Related Resources:

• UCLA Anderson Zone Page
• MBA Admissions for Indian Applicants
• Podcast: UCLA Anderson and Entrepreneurship

The Unconventional Guide To Writing For The GMAT

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Prepare to think on your feet

Structure gets all the limelight.  Structure is undoubtedly a huge deal on the GMAT AWA. After all, you are being graded in part by a computer. But there is still much to be said for content, and the more you think about what to say before you say it, the less likely you are to run out things to say, besides simply repeating, “the argument is also weak because it fails to substantiate a number of points.” Remember, only one of the graders is a computer. The other grader will be very aware if your content is lacking.

Content is king

Much of the content, believe it or not, will come from your brain. All the advice you get about the structure and the exact wording will only help you so much. Generating ideas on the fly, though, can be difficult—especially on test day. A good tactic is to practice using the arguments in the back of the Official Guide. Your job: identify several assumptions and ways that those assumptions can be strengthened or disproven.

Official prompt from GMAT webpage:

“The following appeared in a memorandum from the business department of the Apogee Company:

“‘When the Apogee Company had all its operations in one location, it was more profitable than it is today. Therefore, the Apogee Company should close down its field offices and conduct all its operations from a single location. Such centralization would improve profitability by cutting costs and helping the company maintain better supervision of all employees.’

Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underlie the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion.”

The first step is to identify possible assumptions. This process might seem difficult at first, but with a little practice, you’ll become more adept at it.

Generating ideas means generating content

Questionable assumptions

1.  Profitability had one cause: having all operations centralized in one location.

2.  Even if that were the case, returning to a centralized operation does not ensure profitability.

3.  Supervision of employees is desirable and will lead to profit.

I probably could have come up with a few more assumptions, but I’d be stretching. The point of this exercise—indeed, the whole point of the AWA Argument task—is not to identify every questionable assumption, but to identify the main assumptions. From these few assumptions, you can build your essay. Remember, the instructions explicitly tell us to do the following:

“…what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion.”

Therefore, we need to take those first three assumptions and build off of them by offering alternative explanations and/or counterexamples.

1.  Profitability had one cause: having all operations centralized in one location.

Alternative explanation:

Profitability could have resulted from a number of different factors.

Counterexample:

For instance, Apogee could have focused on just one product, one that did well in the market and boosted company sales. The fact that operations were all under one roof did not impact the success of the company’s product. Indeed, Apogee could have continued to be profitable when it expanded its operations. We only know that at some point it was no longer profitable.

At this point, I could list another counterexample for the alternative explanation and house it under the same paragraph. This will help you add the much-needed length that many students struggle to provide in the essay. By coming up with realistic counterexamples, you can not only write a longer essay, but also a more persuasive one.

A good approach is to repeat the above for each of the questionable assumptions so that you are able to come up with five paragraphs (introduction, three bodies, and a conclusion). First, practice writing one solid paragraph, containing alternative explanations and realistic counterexamples. Once you can confidently do that, repeat two more times and you will be well on your way to a competitive essay score.

Takeaway

You must be able to pinpoint questionable assumptions upon which the argument hinges and you must generate original counterexamples. No amount of learning cookie-cutter language (“the argument is unconvincing because it fails to account for several notable….”) will help you think of ideas specific to the argument you see on test day.

MBA 5 Fatal Flaws

This post was written by Chris Lele, resident test prep expert at Magoosh and a leader in GMAT prep. For more advice on taking the GMAT, check out Magoosh’s GMAT blog.

Related Resources:

• The GMAC, the GMAT, and the MBA Degree
• Get Accepted to Top B-Schools with Low Stats
• Analyzing Your GMAT Score: 4 Questions to Ask Yourself

5 More Tips To Help You Become A Physician’s Assistant

Download the 10 Tips for PA Applicants!

If you missed the first 5 tips, check them out here

1. Double check deadlines and track your progress in a spreadsheet: Create an excel spreadsheet to give yourself a big picture of the application timeline.  List each school and its individual deadline, as well as the dates that you submit materials and interview.  This approach will ensure that you don’t get lost in the excitement and details of the application process.

2. Emphasize your ability to collaborate and work in teams through your activities/essays: As a PA, you will be expected to serve as a powerful member of a healthcare team.  Demonstrating your ability to successfully collaborate with others will give your application an edge.

3. Gain direct exposure to the field by volunteering or working with a PA: In order to convince the selection committee that you know what you are getting yourself into, get experience working directly with a PA.  The more that you can showcase your knowledge of the field and how you will excel within this particular role the stronger your application will be.

4. Since CASPA does not notify you that materials are missing from your application, be proactive and contact them directly to confirm that all materials have been received: Most applicants don’t realize that CASPA does not notify them if materials are missing.  Submit materials early and call/email to confirm that all materials have been received.  Advocate for yourself!  This is too important to let slide.

5. Participate in mock interviews to prepare for your PA interviews:  One of my clients last year completed six mock interviews with me because English was her second language and she wanted to practice to improve her confidence.  She gave an amazing interview and was accepted into the program.  It’s no accident that she did well, because she put all her effort into the preparation.

If you focus on the aspects of the application that you have control over, as outlined above, you will improve your chances of success.  When it comes to the parts of the application that you have no control over, you can be more relaxed because you’ve done your best on the rest.

Be thoughtful with your essays and words and carefully explain your background and reasons for applying.  For assistance in these areas, contact me or my colleagues at accepted.com.

Download your free guide 10 Tips for PA Program Acceptance!

Alicia McNease Nimonkar is an Accepted.com advisor and editor specializing in healthcare admissions. Prior to joining Accepted, Alicia worked for five years as Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and related programs.

Related Resources:

The Quick Guide to Admissions Resume
Exploring Yale’s Top-Rated Physician Assistance Program
• Where MedEd & Leadership Meet: An Inside Look at AMSA