3 Tips for Parents of Grad School Applicants

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Make sure your child’s in the driver’s seat

I’ve been working in graduate admissions for almost 20 years so I have witnessed this trend firsthand: Parents are playing a much larger role in the application process these days than they used to.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – parents can provide a lot of much-needed support (financial, practical, emotional) for their kids during the admissions process; but I cringe when I see parents overstepping their bounds, attempting to control their children’s actions and outcomes.

How much involvement is TOO MUCH involvement for parents of applicants? Check out these 3 tips:

• Make Sure Your Child’s in the Driver’s Seat. – When you take the lead in the admissions process, you’re essentially telling your child: “I don’t think you have what it takes to manage this process yourself.” And what you’re telling the school is: “My kid isn’t competent or ambitious enough to apply to school himself.” You can help your child apply, surely, but make sure that’s what you’re doing – helping them, and not the other way around.

• Your Child’s Voice Should be the Sole Voice of this Operation. – All communication with the school should be between your child – not you, the parent – and the school. Likewise, the voice your child uses to write her application essays should be her voice – and not yours. And it should go without saying that this advice relates to interviews as well. Help, guide, coach, and edit, but please never speak for your child.

• Help Your Child Deal with Disappointment. – Be it a rejection or a poor score, a parent needs to understand the role they play here. First, your child is the one experiencing this distress, not you. By showing your disappointment, you will only make your child feel worse, not to mention potentially preventing your child from continuing to move forward. Instead, allow your child time to express disappointment, provide the appropriate amount of comfort (you know your child best), and then encourage your child to persevere.  Suggest that your applicant explore alternatives and examine the factors he or she can change to improve the outcome in the future. Play the role of the motivational coach; don’t play the blame game.

Not sure you can effectively guide your child through the grad school admissions process (in a balanced, non-pushy way of course)? Browse our catalog of services to access professional guidance today!

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Linda AbrahamBy Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

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IV With an Overrepresented Minority MIT Sloan Admit!

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MIT Sloan (picture courtesy of Vitor Pamplona)

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, “John Thunder”…

Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What is your current job?

John: I’m from the midwest and went to an Ivy League to study economics and mathematics. I was a former investment banker and currently work in investment management.

Accepted: Congrats on your recent acceptance! Can you tell us where you applied and where you got accepted/rejected/waitlisted?

John: I got accepted at Sloan. Waitlisted at Wharton and Booth. Rejected at Kellogg/HBS/Stanford GSB.

Accepted: And if you get more acceptances from the waitlists, how will you decide where to go?

John: I’m fortunate to receive an acceptance to one of my preferred schools. If I get off the waitlist at other schools, maybe I will reconsider.

Accepted: Can you share some admissions tips as an “overrepresented minority”? How would you advise others who are trying to stand out from the crowd?

John: This is the tough question. If I had to re-do my 2-3 year plan for MBA, I would do 1 year of international development in the “motherland” and/or get involved with organizations in those countries. I did not do anything different to standout, except I demonstrated that sure I have similar stats and background to others but coworkers ranked me as the top analyst each year out of the whole class. Instead of thinking about other “Asians,” I saw my application holistically with the applicant group.

Accepted: Do you have any other admissions advice for our applicant readers? 

John: This is a stressful process. I took my GMAT in Fall 2013 to apply for Class of 2017. Get started early and have set goals. If you are targeting HBS/Stanford only, I recommend applying to only one of those round 1 and the other round 2 and go all-out to visit and hustle. I’ve seen success from those who did that.

Accepted: What is your post-MBA plan? 

John: Finance has lost its luster. Please hire me Google.

Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? When and why did you start blogging? What have you gained from the experience? 

John: Kudos to the community created at GMATClub. I used it religiously to study for my GMATs. I just wanted to give back to that community. I was stressed out throughout the whole application process and it was helpful to see other applicants’ experiences. It’s important to pay-it-forward, and that’s what it’s about in business school.

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

You can read more about John Thunder’s b-school journey by checking out his blog, John Thunder MBA. Thank you for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!

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Navigate the MBA Maze
GMAT 101
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How to Get Accepted in 2016: FREE WEBINAR!

That’s right – we’re already talking about 2016 MBA applications! You may feel like you’ve got loads of time, but believe me…you’ve got loads to do! 


We’d like to help you start out on the right foot by inviting you to our upcoming live webinar, Get Accepted in 2016: 7 Steps to a Strong MBA Application, in which Linda Abraham, Accepetd.com CEO & Founder, will outline the steps you can take NOW to increase your chances of a successful application next year.

Let me repeat this point: It’s NOT TOO EARLY to get started!

Remember, the early bird gets the worm – those who are prepared to hit the ground running once those apps are released are the ones who will stand a better shot at getting accepted.

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Date: Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Time: 10:00 AM PT / 1:00 PM ET

(Spaces tend to fill up quickly, so grab your spot now!)

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Moving Forward After Medical School Rejection

Click here to download the 6 Tips For Success for the Medical School Reapplicant!

Don’t let that rejection letter crumple your dreams of becoming a doctor!

It is devastating to receive a rejection.  We actually experience physical pain.  The same parts of the brain that are activated when we are kicked or punched light up when we experience rejection.  Given the very real physical and emotional pain of rejection, as anyone who has been through it before can attest, there are some steps that you can take to come out of the experience with greater insight and a stronger strategy:

1. Recognize that everyone experiences rejection in the same way. You are not alone. Thousands of people are rejected from medical school every year. We all experience rejection the same way. What differentiates us is how each person reacts to it. Repressing your feelings or avoiding addressing the impact can have the most negative consequences. Using the experience to observe your emotions and learn from them can be powerful and constructive. You can gain valuable insight on what you need to do to process the feelings in actively deciding to move forward, when you are ready.

2. Take some time to grieve. Be gentle with yourself. Take some personal time by taking a break or participating in the activities that will allow you to engage in some self reflection.  By learning what works for you, in the future, you can more quickly recover from similar set-backs because they are inevitable in life. For some people, a meditation retreat will allow them to recharge and for others a mission trip to another country will help them refocus. For some, maybe all you’ll need is a good walk followed by a cup of tea.

Consider all the options and the level of introspection that will suit your preferences. Try one and then another, until you find what works best for you. Essentially, you are grieving the loss of an opportunity. You may experience the full spectrum of emotions that are associated with the grieving process. It can be useful to ask for help or even consider professional counseling if you are getting stuck in any one particular stage.

3. Decide what is important to you. After you’ve had time to grieve—the amount of time required will vary from person to person—you can sit down and journal or make a list of your goals.  After reassessing what is important to you, you can let go of any of the negative emotions attached to the experience of rejection and actively decide to move on—taking with you any useful information that you learned about yourself and the process of applying. Enormous wisdom can be gained from these kinds of destabilizing events. You get the chance to consciously rebuild by integrating the experience into your identity and deciding the best way to move forward.

4. Select a strategy in moving forward. You have lots and lots of options, if you allow yourself to be open to the myriad of possibilities that exist. Be strategic and thorough in your examination of the pathways open to you. Talk to other people about your experience and ask about theirs. Do not leave any stone unturned. If the experience only makes you more determined to go into medicine, get feedback on your application. Talk to pre-health advisors. Contact professional admissions consultants; we here at Accepted are available to help you. Critically evaluate your application and how to improve as much as you can before reapplying. Or if you are not ready to reapply, begin exploring the multitude of careers in healthcare that do not require a medical degree or take a gap year or two. You have the power to mediate your experience and to make it as exciting as you want it to be!

Register for the 9 Keys to Postbac Acceptance in 2015 webinar!

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:

• Medical School Reapplicant Advice: 6 Tips for Success
Help, I Was Rejected by All the Medical Schools I Applied To!
• The Dreaded Med School Rejection: What now?

4 Qualities Top MBA Programs Seek

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Does your application highlight the qualities that top b-schools are looking for?

There are four main qualities that top b-schools look for when reviewing MBA applications. If you’re aiming for the top 10, then you’ll want to make sure not only that you possess these qualities, but that you’ve highlighted them in your application.

 Problem Solving Skills – This is probably the most important quality, at least initially. Schools want the types of students that exclusive consulting firms like McKinsey would take interest in, and that type of student is an expert problem solver. Everyone working in firms like McKinsey needs to be adept at solving a range of “problems” – top schools recognize this and seek out students who would eventually be an excellent fit at these top firms.

• Drive/Ambition – Applicants must show evidence of longstanding drive for success in their applications, resumes, and interviews. Did you push yourself to succeed inside and outside the classroom in college? Do you have an ambitious vision for your career path? B-schools want students who will succeed in the business world once they graduate – if you prove that you have drive/ambition, then you’ll stand out as someone who they want in their classrooms, and beyond.

• Interpersonal Impact – “Brains on a stick” just won’t cut it at business school and then later on in the business world. You also need to be dynamic and likable. You need to be able to work well on a team and gain the respect of your teammates, not to mention later on, your employers and employees. You can show the adcoms your interpersonal impact by highlighting your involvement in teams at work as well as in clubs, sports, or other socially driven activities. Additionally, choose recommenders who know you well and who will attest to this attribute. 

• Leadership/Management Capabilities – Demonstrating general interpersonal impact isn’t enough: top candidates need to show strong evidence of leadership experience and potential. Did you take on leadership positions in clubs, sports teams, and service organizations? You need to express that you are the type of person who will earn the respect of those around you so that they’ll be eager to follow your lead. In your application, resume, and interview, come up with concrete examples that show how you wielded authority with skill and integrity.

Do you need help highlighting these essential qualities in your MBA application? We’re here to help! Contact us so we can provide the one-on-one counseling you need to put together the highest-impact b-school application.

Click here to register for the upcoming webinar! Accepted.com: The Premier Admissions Consultancy

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5 Ways to Make B-Schools love you – free webinar
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