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, Top Dog.
Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What is your current job?
Top Dog: Hello, and thanks for the opportunity to talk about myself! I was born and went to school in the UK, studying for my Bachelor of Science at the University of London. I’m currently working in southern Europe as a global relationship manager for the largest corporate and investment bank in the energy and commodities sector.
Accepted: When did you first apply to b-school?
Top Dog: I applied to five top 10 U.S. business schools in 2013/14 (Rounds 1 and 2). I got two interviews (at MIT Sloan and Wharton) but unfortunately failed to get an offer.
Accepted: What do you think went wrong and what are you doing this time to improve your candidacy?
Top Dog: I don’t think there were any obvious issues – aside from my 12 years WE and relatively low GPA – but my applications were maybe a bit bland and failed to fully explain what I have actually achieved so far and my detailed reasons for wanting an MBA. This year I got the chance to lead an international team after my boss resigned – that’s definitely an experience I’ll be writing about in my applications that I didn’t have last time.
Accepted: Where do you plan on applying this time?
Top Dog: I’m going to be focused and reapply to MIT Sloan and Wharton, plus INSEAD for the first time. I’ve done a lot of research and love the location, culture, collaborative spirit and emphasis on entrepreneurship and social enterprise at these b-schools. I’m toying with reapplying to Stanford too – the lure of the West Coast is difficult to resist!
Accepted: Can you talk about your decision to apply to/attend a European program versus a U.S. program? What are the pros and cons on either side?
Top Dog: I have tried to balance my target b-schools this time and, while most top b-schools will give you a great education, there are differences. In Europe, I really like the international classes (INSEAD’s incoming class has 90 nationalities with c. 60% from outside Europe), but 10 months is short to fully experience the teaching, culture and career prospects on offer. In the U.S., b-schools simply rock the MBA – this is where the MBA was born and it’s still the best place to study it – plus it broadens my otherwise European profile, while the con would definitely be the cost – ouch!
Accepted: What stage of the application process are you up to so far? What has been the most challenging step and how did you work to overcome it?
Top Dog: I’m in a good position as I have my experience from last season so I’m all done with research, profile building and I’m about to start my essays. I’ve blogged about my mistakes from last time and I’m already falling into the first trap – leaving it too late to start writing my essays (where did July go!?). Another challenge was not keeping on top of my recommenders, and I’m definitely going to be focused on this this time around.
Accepted: Do you plan on staying in your current industry post-MBA, or changing to a new field/career?
Top Dog: A big motivation for the full time (rather than exec) MBA is the ability to transition into a new field. Post-MBA I’ll go back into banking with a focus on business development and corporate social responsibility – ideally in the emerging markets – where innovation and entrepreneurship are rewarded skills. Longer term I want to combine my finance experience in a start-up, potentially a social entrepreneur focused micro-finance venture in an emerging economy.
Accepted: Why did you decide to blog about your experience? What have you gained from the experience? What do you hope others will learn?
Top Dog: I got a lot of knowledge and comfort from other bloggers last season and I’d like to give something back to the MBA applicant community. My blog encourages me to keep on top of my applications while testing ideas with others in the same position (and some helpful consultants too!). In exchange, I hope I’m giving some useful insight, sparking a bit of debate and creating a sense of companionship among fellow and future applicants.
For one-on-one guidance on your b-school application, please see our MBA Application Packages.
There are literally hundreds of medical schools in the U.S. to choose from – how do you choose where to apply? Ask yourself the following five questions – their answers will help you narrow down you school selection list and choose the ones that are best for YOU.
1. Should you go in-state?
This is a great place to start as state schools are often cheaper, not to mention easier to get into for residents.
2. Where do you stand competitively?
You need to know where you stand when compared to other applicants. While some aspects of your profile won’t be able to be measured objectively (your clinical experiences or unique background), others are simple facts that are easily comparable. Check out recent rankings to determine average MCAT scores and GPAs for entering classes at the schools on your list. Then narrow down accordingly.
3. What’s your area of interest?
If you have a strong interest in doing health policy, then you might want to look at somewhere like Georgetown in Washington, D.C. as it offers great access to different health policy resources. Look at different areas that interest you or that you have some background in and then select the schools that focus on that, whether it’s infectious disease or rural medicine or emergency medicine or whatever it is that you’re passionate about pursuing.
4. Who do you know?
If you are friends (or friends of friends) or colleagues with professors, doctors, students, or alumni who are connected with one of the programs on your list, then you should definitely talk to them about their experience – their likes and dislikes.
5. How are the vibes?
A school could look perfect on paper, but if you step foot on campus and get negative vibes, then the school may not be for you. A school’s culture – the atmosphere on campus, the way the classes are run, the professor/student exchanges, and the students themselves – can get lost in translation. Often first-hand experience is needed to truly get a feel for what the experience of med school will be like. While it may not be feasible to visit every school on your list, you should certainly visit as many as you can, and then fill in the gaps by attending info sessions/pre-med fairs, and connecting with students and alumni off-campus (as in #4 above).
The advice in this post is based on a conversation we had in our recent webinar, Ask The Experts: Medical School Admissions Q&A with Cydney Foote and Alicia McNease Nimonkar. Check out the full transcript for more tips on applying to med school successfully!
• Med School Rankings & Numbers: What You MUST Know, a free downloadable guide
• Applying to Medical School: Selecting Extracurricular Activities
• Identity, Community, and the World of Med School Admissions, a podcast interview
Listen to the recording of our conversation with Ross Mason, VP of Envisage International for important tips and information about international student loans, health insurance, and other topics that matter to you.
00:03:31 – Envisage: Helping international students.
00:06:02 – How Ross got involved and what’s changed in past decade plus.
00:10:08 – Advice for a US resident applying to school abroad.
00:14:00 – Advice for a non-US resident applying to school in the United States.
00:19:42 – Health insurance for a US student accepted to an international school.
00:22:48 – What a non-US resident accepted to an US school needs to know about health insurance.
00:24:43 – Finding insurance: where to turn.
00:25:51 – What else is out there for students going abroad?
00:28:00 – Top advice for an international student preparing to go to school out of the country.
*Theme music is courtesy of podcastthemes.com.
• International Student Loan
• Financial Aid for International Students in the USA
• International Financial Aid Resources
• IEFA: International Financial Aid and College Scholarship Search
• International Student Insurance Plans (Country pages on the bottom right)
• US School Insurance Requirements
• International Student Insurance Explained
• International Student & Study Abroad Resource Center
• International Students and the Individual Mandate Under PPACA
• The Affordable Care Act and J1 Participants in Non-Student Categories
• Global Business Leadership at Wharton’s Lauder Institute
• Non-Academic Careers for PhDs: A Talk with Dr. Paula Chambers
• CommonBond’s Story: A Revolution in Student Loans
• Is a PhD a Good Idea?
• An Inside Look at INSEAD
• Leadership is King: Interview with IMD’s Lisa Piguet
• Interview with SoFi Co-Founder, Daniel Macklin
Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk:
Now’s your chance to catch up on valuable information you may have missed during last week’s webinar, How to Get into Medical School with Low Stats. Med school applicants with low GPA and/or MCAT scores – you don’t want to miss this!
View How to Get into Medical School with Low Stats for free now!
I strongly urge you to watch the videos where Kellogg defines what it means by Think Bravely. The qualified applicants who show they profoundly identify with that mission will have the best chance of acceptance.
1. Resilience. Perseverance. Grit. Call it what you will…. Challenges can build character. Describe a challenging experience you’ve had. How were you tested? What did you learn? (450 words)
A perfect prompt for an essay showing that you take responsibility for you actions — even in challenging situations — and that you courageously face those challenges, deal with them, and grow from them.
The question asks you to describe one experience that you found challenging. I suggest you open with either a difficult moment or interaction, then describe what led up to it and continue with how you dealt with it. Reveal results both in terms of the situation and more importantly in terms of your personal character growth.
For more thoughts on resilience, please see Resilience: Moving On.
2. Leadership requires an ability to collaborate with and motivate others. Describe a professional experience that required you to influence people. What did this experience teach you about working with others, and how will it make you a better leader? (450 words)
This question reflects Kellogg’s emphasis on collaborative leadership. As in question 1, Kellogg is asking you to describe one experience. This time the school seeks a professional one where you influenced others. You can use a STAR framework for this response (Situation, Task, Action, Results). Start with the situation and simply describe what was going on. Then relate your group’s task and responsibility. How did you motivate the others to move in one direction? How did you influence and persuade? Finally what were the results for the group, but more importantly for you? What did you learn about leadership, collaboration, and influence?
While it isn’t a requirement and I can imagine instances where this may not be true, in general examples where you led by virtue of your stature and others’ respect for you will be more compelling than those where you led by virtue of station and title.
Re-Applicants Only: Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (250 word limit)
No trick questions here. How are you a better candidate today than when Kellogg rejected you? Have you addressed weaknesses in your previous application? Check out MBA Reapplicant 101 — a lot of (free) resources.
Additional Information (Optional): If needed, use this section to briefly describe any extenuating circumstances (e.g. unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, etc.) (no word count)
This is a true optional question If necessary, use it to provide context for possible negatives. Take responsibility for mistakes if necessary and discuss what you have changed so that you don’t err in the same way again.
Keep this section short and to-the-point. Don’t be fooled by “No word count.”
• The Video Essays provide applicants with an additional opportunity to demonstrate what they will bring to our vibrant Kellogg community – in an interactive way. Each applicant will complete two short video essay questions. The questions are designed to bring to life the person we have learned about on paper.
• After submitting a completed application, each applicant will be asked to complete two Video Essay Questions. One will be about the candidate’s interest in Kellogg and the other will be a “getting to know you” type of question.
• There are 10 practice questions which candidates can complete as many times as they like to get comfortable with the format and technology. The practice questions and experience will simulate the actual video essay experience, so this is meant to be a useful tool and help applicants feel prepared.
• There is not an opportunity to re-do the answer to the official video essay questions. We encourage applicants to practice so they are comfortable with the format once it is time to complete the official questions.
• Candidates will have 20 seconds to think about their question and up to 1 minute to give their response.
• We estimate the Video Essays will take 30 minutes to complete – which includes time for set-up and answering all the practice questions.
To prepare for your webcam session, you need to practice for the experience of talking to a video camera with no responses from another human being. For tips on how to prepare and behave during the webcam session, please see Kellogg’s “Video Essay” on its Application Components page as well as my Tips for Video MBA Essay Questions.
If you would like professional guidance with your Kellogg MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the Kellogg application.
|Round .||Due Date* .||Decisions Released|
|Round 1||September 24, 2014||December 17, 2014|
|Round 2||January 7, 2015||March 25, 2015|
|Round 3||April 1, 2015||May 13, 2015|
*Your application must be received by Kellogg no later than 5p.m. CT on the deadline for the round in which you are applying.
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.