This year, Stanford University accepted only 5% of applicants. While enrollment is down in general, competition for spots at elite U.S. universities is on the rise. As a New York Times article reported last week, the competition is “more cutthroat and anxiety-inducing than ever.”
These top colleges are receiving more applications than they’ve ever received, and are forced to reject the vast majority of them, many of them being impressive candidates that would have been accepted if not for the deluge of applications. In fact, according to the NYT piece: “Admissions directors at these institutions say that most of the students they turn down are such strong candidates that many are indistinguishable from those who get in.”
People are starting to look at admissions decisions as a crapshoot – one can get rejected from Stanford and accepted to Yale, and there seems to be no rhyme or reason for which schools will accept and which will reject these crème de la crème students.
Some numbers (from the NYT article):
• In 2007, 315 colleges accepted the Common Application. This year, that number jumped to 517 schools.
• In 1990, only 9% of applicants applied to seven or more colleges, compared to 29% of applicants in 2011.
• This year, Stanford received 42,167 applications (for the class of 2018). 2,138 applicants were accepted. Around 1,700 will enroll as first-year students in the fall.
• UCLA received the most applications this year (more than 86,000), doubling its numbers in 2005. (This doesn’t include the 19,000 applications from transfer students.) The acceptance rate for UCLA and UC Berkeley are expected to drop below the 20% mark for the first time.
• In terms of other top school acceptance rates: Harvard and Yale accepted about 6% of applicants; Columbia and Princeton – 7%; MIT and University of Chicago – 8%. (A decade ago, Chicago’s acceptance rate was 40%!)
One critical point to remember: There are a lot of excellent colleges and universities outside the elite where the numbers are saner. Focus on fit, not ranking.
Teamwork, and its close cousin, leadership, are highly prized by graduate programs and universities. Haven’t worked in teams on any regular basis? Don’t worry! There are more ways than you may realize to prove your chops in this area. Consider the following 4 options:
1. No Man is an Island
Unless you’ve been living alone on an island for the last several years, you have undoubtedly participated in various groups. You may have been a member of a sports team or dance troupe, a member of a committee on either a volunteer or workplace basis, helped to organize an event, planned a triathlon, or been a tutor, Big Brother, or Big Sister. In each case, you were working with other people, even if it was only one other person, and had opportunities to display teamwork.
2. Put Your Listening Ears On
Teamwork and collaboration involve effective listening, so if you can discuss a time when you took the time to listen to others, patiently and skillfully, and how doing so eased tensions and increased collaboration, that will demonstrate your teamwork abilities.
3. Boosting Morale and Conflict Resolution
Talk about the steps you took to improve morale or motivate. If you helped to generate enthusiasm for a project when enthusiasm was flagging, or brainstormed an idea to strengthen a group or project, that’s also teamwork. If you were a member of a committee and figured out a way for two warring members of the committee to stop fighting and start working together, that would also constitute teamwork. Any time you took the initiative to get involved with other people (especially when they are difficult!) to find a better way to get things done, find a middle ground, brainstorm a new idea, it’s all teamwork.
4. Think Small
Effective teamwork can also be shown in very small groups. A client once wrote about her efforts to heal a serious rift in her family after her father passed away and siblings fought for control of the successful family business. An ugly succession fight was underway. The client’s ability to patiently coax cooperation in such an emotionally charged environment, including her “shuttle diplomacy” and active listening among family members, displayed skilled teamwork and leadership. Another client wrote about having organized a trip with a few friends, and how she dealt with a dispute between two of the participants whose bickering threatened to ruin the trip for everyone. Her effective listening, and creatively figuring out an activity that both of the “combatants” would not be able to resist, helped defuse the situation and save the trip from descending into a hellish situation for everyone. In both these situations, the “teams” were small but the stakes for those involved were high.
So do not feel stymied when asked for examples of how you have displayed teamwork – as you now see, you’ve been working in teams more often than you realize!
If you are applying to b-school and are seeking specific, detailed instructions to guide you to your b-school goal, then you won’t want to miss our upcoming FREE webinar, The Secret to MBA Acceptance, on Wednesday, April 30th at 10 AM PT / 1 PM ET.
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The extensive available advice about applying to MBA programs was largely created with applicants to full-time MBA programs in mind. If you are applying to part-time MBA programs, most of this advice will be pertinent for you as well. But there are some nuances to applying to part-time programs that warrant attention.
The fact of working while you are studying is one, and it affects the application. The nitty-gritty of your daily work is a resource you will bring directly to class discussions and group projects. You can share the reality of your work world in “real time” with your classmates. The adcoms view this factor as a core benefit of part-time programs and integral to their unique learning process. Hence, in your resume, essays, and the application form, put thought into how you present your current work scenario; look at it from the eyes of prospective classmates.
Moreover, since you are continuing to work, your goals won’t necessarily start at the magic moment you graduate. So, in a goals essay (depending on how the question is worded) discuss specific goals that you want to achieve in your current role, while you’re in the program – doing so allows you to further illuminate your work. Part-time MBA programs are usually not for career changers, at least in the short term, and they may not open recruiting to them. Review the program’s policies about recruiting for part-time students before you say that you’ll be using it for post-MBA employment.
Attending grad school while working is grueling, period. Hence, adcoms look for evidence that you are prepared for it. The last thing they want is students dropping out. Sometimes an essay question directly addresses this issue. If not, it can never hurt to briefly convey awareness of the challenge and mention plans for handling it. If you’ve previously successfully studied while working full time, note that fact.
Finally, for the bulk of part-time programs that target local applicants, their applicant pool may contain high concentrations from strong local industries, such as pharma and finance in New York. Consider and address this factor in differentiating yourself.
Good luck with your applications!
By Cindy Tokumitsu, co-author of The Finance Professional’s Guide to MBA Admissions Success, and author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her last fifteen years with Accepted.com.
Emlyon Business School (formerly École de management de Lyon) just announced the launch of its new pre-experience Masters in Luxury Management and Marketing, a program designed to prepare students for an international management career in the luxury industry.
The 16-month program, which will be run in collaboration with the London College of Fashion, will offer maximum exposure to the world of luxury goods and manufacturing. Classes are held on three continents; students will participate in an internship anywhere in the world.
This looks like a great way to acquire marketable skills while having a blast in Lyon, London, and Shanghai! See more info here.