5 Tips for Making the Most of an MBA Fair


MBA fairs provide b-school applicants a chance to speak with school reps and learn more about their program options. If you attend a fair well prepared and with the right attitude, then the experience will prove extremely valuable –it will offer you your first glimpse into the concept of “school fit.”

How do you make the most of those few hours at an MBA fair?

  1. Do some quality school research BEFORE you attend. You want to arrive at the venue prepared and ready to ask the school representative thoughtful questions. The answer to “Where is your school located?” is available on the homepage of any school site, and therefore, not an impressive question. Make sure you’ve done your research and know the basics so that you can spend your time at the fair asking intelligent questions.
  2. Dress to impress. While a tux may be a bit over the top, looking like you just came from the beach is too extreme in the other direction. Stick with professional or business casual attire to make the best impression.
  3. Bring your resume and business card. You probably won’t have more than just a few minutes to speak with a representative, and you certainly don’t want to spend what little time you have reeling off a list of your accomplishments. Hand your resume to reps that you feel you connected with and you’ll have given them a nice and informative way to remember who you are. (Note, however, that some schools have policies against accepting such materials.)
  4. Be polite. An obvious tip, yet still worth mentioning. Don’t be rude to the school rep (like demanding that he or she spend more time talking to you) and don’t be rude to your fellow applicants (like pushing your way to the front of a line or monopolizing a conversation).
  5. Send a succinct thank you email if a school rep was helpful. Follow up with reps at your target programs, especially those with whom you shared your resume or other application materials. You made a connection with someone of influence…now stay in touch.

Make the most of MBA fairs and business school receptions.  Read Accepted’s free, instantly downloadable special report, MBA Fairs: Advancing Your MBA Ambitions.

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The MBA Tour is in California!


The MBA Tour will be in CaliforNI-AY this weekend! It will open in San Francisco on Saturday at the Hyatt Regency, and on Sunday it travels to downtown Los Angeles and the Wilshire Grand Hotel.

I don’t have any official role, booth, or table, but I intend to visit the LA event probably in the late morning or noon-time. If any of you recognize me (just add 5 years to the picture below.), please say “Hi!” I’d love to meet you.

As you know, I strongly recommend learning as much as you can about the schools. The MBA Tour brings the schools to you and allows you to network with school representatives. Registration is free. So Californians, if you are in driving distance of downtown LA or San Fran, it’s a great opportunity.

By Linda Abraham, Accepted’s founder and president.



MBA fair

Early Bird July Special Reminder


The month of July is almost over, but those applications are still sitting in a pile on your desk, unopened.  You may have printed them out and taken a glance at them, but it’s time to start filling them out!

Luckily, you have a few more days to take advantage of Accepted’s 10% discount on any of our MBA, law, or grad admissions consulting & editing services,* through July 31, 2011. To receive your discount, just enter JL11 at checkout.

There are 3 days left to make use of this great opportunity and start writing essays that will knock the socks off the acceptance committee at your top choice program!

*Discount not valid on rush orders.

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College Admissions News Roundup


  • The Chronicle of Education looks at how the new King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (Kaust) in Saudi Arabia plans to transform itself into a world-class research graduate university, despite the fact that it is located in one of “the most restrictive countries in the world.”  The campus has cost King Abdullah $10 billion dollars, and it is a big step for Saudi Arabia society, because it is the first institution in the country to have men and women in the same classroom.
  • Seniors who are in college and looking for an MBA or a business education should read Businessweek’s article on universities offering MBA programs for students who have just graduated undergrad. Recent graduates should look at the Silver Scholars program at the Yale School of Management (Yale Full-Time MBA Profile), the Momentum MBA program at Xavier University Williams College of Business and the Emerging Leaders MBA program at Loyola University Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business. Although not mentioned in this article, Duke Fuqua’s and London Business School’s Masters in Management programs are also options for recent college grads who want a foundation in business to launch their careers.  And of course there’s Harvard’s 2+2 program which is accepting applications this year from current seniors who are willing to postpone their matriculation for two years.
  • The Chronicle of Education announced that Yale raised a record-breaking $3.881-billion in their 5-year Yale Tomorrow fundraising campaign. Although this amount of money is a record for a college or university campaign, many more universities are expected to raise similar amounts by the end of the year.
  • The Chronicle of Education looks at the results of the 2011 College Decision Impact Survey, which showed that 63% of seniors graduating go to their first choice colleges, 35% are not accepted to their first choice, and 31% could not afford their first choice (whether they were or were not accepted). The survey shows that the cost of education is increasingly becoming a major factor in what colleges students choose to attend.
  • There is a slight shift towards “no-loan” financial aid and a Washington Post article lists the 12 colleges with the best financial aid policies: Amherst College, Bowdoin College, Claremont McKenna College, Pomona College, Davidson College, Harvard University (possibly the most generous), Haverford College, Princeton University, Swarthmore College, University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt University, and Yale University.
  • People expected the recession to transform college enrollment. However, an article in The Chronicle of Education looks at whether this is in fact the case.  According to a report released by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, the number of enrolled students rose as a result of the recession. Yet many believe it will take years to truly discover the ways in which the recession has affected students’ college choices.
  • The Chronicle of Education blog examines how academia will be forced to change in response to innovation in the coming years.  The post suggests that if changes are not made, families will be paying higher prices for education and be unprepared for the cost. Those on the cutting edge of education look at these possible changes in academia and the drawbacks and benefits of overhauling the current higher education system.


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Dartmouth Tuck 2012 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips

Dartmouth Tuck

Dartmouth Tuck 2012 MBA Essay Questions

Please respond fully but concisely to the following essay questions. Compose each of your answers offline in separate document files and upload them individually in the appropriate spaces below. Although there is no restriction on the length of your response, most applicants use, on average, 500 words for each essay. There are no right or wrong answers. Please double-space your responses.

1. Why is an MBA a critical next step toward your short- and long-term career goals? Why is Tuck the best MBA program for you? (If you are applying for a joint or dual degree, please explain how the additional degree will contribute to those goals.)

The MBA is a means to an end; it is a “step” towards a goal. That means you have to briefly discuss your journey to date and then your reasons for wanting an MBA — and specifically a Tuck MBA–  to continue on that journey.

You have to know a lot about Tuck as well as your goals to respond effectively to this question. Why do you want a small, tight-knit program in rural New Hampshire? Why do you want a program that stresses the integration of business functions?  Which of Tuck’s strengths appeal to you? How will they help you achieve your goals?

2. Discuss your most meaningful leadership experience. What did you learn about your own individual strengths and weaknesses through this experience?

This question reflects the importance Tuck, like many MBA programs, places on leadership.

Have you chaired  a fund raiser that raised a record amount of money? Have you inspired a troubled teen to apply himself academically?  Have you captained a sports team that led your company league? Have you been a team lead on a project that came in early and under budget? Are you head of a sales team? These could all be examples of leadership. How did you motivate your teammates? What did you learn?

The question asks you to reveal strengths and weaknesses. The first is fun and should be relatively easy. However we all cringe at the idea of revealing weaknesses, especially in a situation where you want to impress — like now. Nonetheless, resist that nasty impulse. Don’t even think about a phony weakness. The adcom will see right through it. Reveal a weakness that hopefully you can show yourself addressing in this leadership experience or through another later experience. Don’t dwell on the weakness, but do include it.

3. Describe a circumstance in your life in which you faced adversity, failure, or setback. What actions did you take as a result and what did you learn from this experience?

Think resilience.  Picking yourself up and moving on, better and stronger than you were before. That’s what you want to portray and convey in this essay.  What happened, how did you react, and what did you learn as a result. ( You may also be interested in a video on this subject for a related HBS question, Setbacks and Resilience.

4. Tuck seeks candidates of various backgrounds who can bring new perspectives to our community. How will your unique personal history, values, and/or life experiences contribute to the culture at Tuck?

Tuck may be small and rural, but it is no backwater. And it is fiercely proud of its diversity — in all senses of the word.  It also wants people who will contribute to the school. When I visited Tuck for the International Educational Consultants Conference, I was struck by the variety of events within Tuck and the larger Dartmouth community. Clearly, to answer this question well you must reflect on your background, but you also need to study the activities, clubs, and programs available at Tuck.  What are the distinctive elements of your background? How will they enable you to contribute at Tuck?

5. (Optional) Please provide any additional insight or information that you have not addressed elsewhere that may be helpful in reviewing your application (e.g., unusual choice of evaluators, weaknesses in academic performance, unexplained job gaps or changes, etc.). Complete this question only if you feel your candidacy is not fully represented by this application.

It is almost impossible for four 500-word essays plus a bunch of boxes, a transcript, and a GMAT score to represent fully the uniqueness and talents of a truly impressive candidate. That comment has nothing to do with writing style and everything to do with the complexity of accomplished human beings. In my opinion this “optional essay“  is optional in name only.

6. (To be completed by all reapplicants) How have you strengthened your candidacy since you last applied? Please reflect on how you have grown personally and professionally.

Straightforward MBA reapplication question. What has changed that would compel Tuck to admit you this year when it rejected you last year?

If you would like professional guidance with your Dartmouth Tuck application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our Dartmouth Tuck School Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the Tuck MBA application.

                                                    November Deadline       January Deadline       April Deadline

Application Due:            Nov. 9, 2011                            Jan. 4, 2012                        April 2, 2012

Linda Abraham By , President and Founder of Accepted.com.

Are you applying to other MBA programs too? You can find great advice for other programs at 2012 MBA Essay Tips.

Midlife Crisis? Forget the Ferrari, Try Medical School Instead


Just when are you too old to start med school? According to Joshua Tompkins—a 40-year-old second-year medical student at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine—never.

Tompkins wrote an article in The Chronicle Review (“Confessions of a Middle-Aged Med Student”) about how “getting into medical school no longer requires being 23 and having a B.S. in biochemistry.”

Although it might seen like an overwhelming challenge to embark on the long road of medical school so late in life, Tompkins had his reasons: “As a physician, I’ll enjoy guaranteed employment doing what I enjoy, anywhere I want, for life.”  Not a bad motive.

Tompkins even tries to make up for his old age by offering younger classmates his sage advice: “Stop talking like teenagers, because no patient will trust a doctor who says, ‘Uh, yeah, we did, like, an MRI, and there’s, like, a really gnarly tumor that’s, like, stuck to your spine.’”  

Young or old, Tompkins acknowledges the difficulty of cramming so much information into his head.  He studies literally day and night, and is known for listing the bones in the wrist to himself as he walks along the street.

Asked how he manages with all the hours of studying and the stress of test taking, Tompkins quotes from psychiatrist M. Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled: “when you accept the fact that life is hard, then life becomes easy.”


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A New Army of Public Interest Lawyers


While “public interest” law used to be a dirty word amongst corporate-minded law school students, there has been a noticeable shift in perception. In fact, more and more law school graduates are choosing jobs in public interest law. The percentage of law school graduates taking public interest jobs grew to 6.7% in 2010 from 2.1% in 1990, according to the most recent data from the National Association for Law Placement (NALP).

An article in The National Law Journal (“Second-Class Careers No More”) offers some insight into this trend. Part of the field’s growth is due to more clinics and internship opportunities being offered on campus.  But there has also been an increase in the number of financial programs that help public interest lawyers cope with their law school debts. Several organizations and groups have opened up to help fund public interest careers. The largest of these organizations, Equal Justice Works, finances 700 summer public interest internships, 170 post-graduate fellowships, and has a budget of $11 million. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom also launched the Skadden Fellowship Foundation that annuallyfunds 25 two-year public interest law fellowships.

While public interest law is still not the most lucrative choice (the average national starting salary at corporate law firms is nearly $103,000, whereas the average public interest law job salary is $42,000), the many fellowships and loan-forgiveness programs now available may have made public interest careers a more popular option.


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The Miraculous 15-Minute ROUGH, ROUGH Draft


Anyone who sits down to write always faces the daunting first few moments of staring at the blank computer screen or notebook page.  Even for accomplished novelists or famous journalists, the beginning can be very scary.  And, for someone who hasn’t written much but a memo or email in ages, this can be an even harder task.  Suddenly, laundry, dirty dishes and even paying bills seem appealing.  Why not answer that phone call instead, or take the dog for a walk?  Sound familiar?  Well, here’s some simple advice:






When you start to write a few words on the page – even words like “I don’t know what to say” – something miraculous happens.  Suddenly, there are WORDS on the page, not just blank space.  

Many writers start the day with what can be thought of as “brain dump.”  We just WRITE, anything, for 15 minutes.  We assure ourselves that NO ONE will read it, just us.  We whine, we complain, we worry about why we can’t write.  We vent onto the page about our annoying co-worker, our mother, our noisy neighbors.  Then we ask ourselves things like: what am I doing today?  How am I feeling (about my job, my upcoming summer vacation, my birthday, my dating life…)?  What am I having for dinner?  And maybe, if we’re up to it: how do I feel about my future?  What are my dreams?  And before we know it, the timer goes off, and we have 2 or 3 pages.  Not Hemingway maybe, not The New York Times, but it’s WRITING.  

Now, this may sound like a big waste of time.  So let’s think for a moment about exercise.  If you haven’t been to a gym in years and decide to run a 10k race next month, what do you do first?  Unless you want to pull a muscle or worse, you start slow.  You get off the couch and jog around the block a few times (and, in my case, reward yourself with an ice cream cone afterwards).  Then, you might try for a mile, or two.  You jog, you stretch, you walk a bit.  You’re sore, but the next day you do it again.  As we all know, you are MUCH more likely to succeed in the race if you warm up, practice, and do several trial runs to prepare.  

Writing works in exactly the same way.  Before taking on the big personal statement for Harvard or the leadership essay for Kellogg, I’d advise WARMING UP.  Some practice runs, nice and easy, where no one will see that you’re so out of breath you can’t even say hello.  And this is the beauty of the rough draft.  It’s the draft no one will see but you (well, and maybe your Accepted.com editor!).  It’s the messy, sloppy draft (hence the name rough, not smooth) that lets you remember what it feels like to jog in place a bit, to get your bearings, to put a few tentative words onto the page.  It helps you remember what your voice sounds like, and most importantly, why it’s unique.

When I sit down to write a first out-of-shape rough draft, I first turn off my phone, then my Facebook page, and finally those darn voices in my head that keep whispering “Are you nuts? This isn’t good writing!”  I set a timer for just 15 minutes (no more!), and I promise myself a reward afterwards.

Then I take a deep breath and start typing.  A few words.  A sentence.  Then there’s a paragraph.  It’s not great writing, it’s not going to change lives or win the race, but it’s a beginning.  I’m sweating a little, I can feel my heart beating.  An idea pops up.  Then another.  I don’t sprint, and I don’t push too hard.  But when the timer goes off, there’s something true and honest on that page by ME, about ME, which is the critical first step to any good piece of writing, especially a strong, effective personal statement.  


Shut off the phone, and set an alarm for 15 minutes.  Then ask yourself: What do I care about?  What do I enjoy doing?  What’s important to me?  And write.  Your only commitment is to keep going until you hear that beep.  When the timer goes off, STOP.  Hit “save.”  And then go get yourself a double scoop of sweet, cold, decadent ice cream.


By , a college writing professor specializing in the personal narrative; journalist, writing coach, and admissions consultant. She has helped applicants gain acceptance to Ivy League and other top programs.

The ABCs of Grade Inflation


College students strive to maintain high GPAs by pushing themselves to earn A’s. Some students are even paranoid enough to belief that one B can change their whole transcript, maybe even their future. But how hard do students really work for these grades? Is getting “straight A’s” that much of an accomplishment in 2011?

An article in Inside Higher Ed (“Easy A”) suggests that the current grading system in the US may be just smoke and mirrors, because when everyone gets A’s the letter grade loses its value.

In a recent study published by Stuart Rojstaczer, a retired professor at Duke University, and Christopher Healy, an associate professor at Furman University, historical data was collected from 200 four-year universities, and contemporary data from 135 universities, that highlighted problems with grade inflation in America.  

Rojstaczer and Healy’s study found that 43% of all grades in four-year colleges are A’s, while D’s and F’s are scarce.  

When too many A’s are given out by institutions of higher education, graduate school admissions committees start to no longer trust grades. Rojstaczer and Healy explain, “The evolution of grading has made it difficult to distinguish between excellent and good performance.” As a result, admissions committees have come to rely more on standardized tests than transcripts.

The study exposes how universities have been spreading a myth that all their students excel flawlessly. But no school is that perfect. This study reminds applicants to graduate schools that acceptance into top tier programs requires high marks on standardized tests and notable personal statements, not just a transcript full of A’s.


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Introducing Venture for America: How to Create 100,000 Jobs


This is a guest post by Andrew Yang, currently the President and Founder of Venture for America, formerly the CEO at Manhattan GMAT. Accepted.com is glad to support this initiative.

When a company has a serious problem, it sends its best people to solve it.  

Right now our country has a serious problem – we need to create more jobs.  And yet, our top college graduates are often not heading to innovative start-ups and early stage companies that will generate jobs and produce new industries.  In 2010 over 50% of Harvard graduates went to work in financial services, management consulting, or to law school, with fewer than 15% going to industry, which includes companies big and small.  The same picture holds true at other top college campuses.  

Despite the numbers, many graduating seniors would have a strong interest in working for a start-up that had the potential to grow.  It’s an ambition that’s commonly expressed among students.  But there are significant obstacles for a senior looking to pursue this sort of opportunity:  

  1. They are not actively recruited.  Start-ups often lack the resources to interview and recruit on-campus, particularly because they are generally only looking for a small number of entry-level hires.  
  2. It’s hard to find a suitable company.  It’s difficult, and a departure from past experience, for a college senior to network and do the legwork necessary to find and identify suitable start-ups that might be hiring around the country.  
  3. You’re on your own.  Many seniors learn about opportunities or on-campus interviews from career services or classmates.  Dozens of your peers generally aren’t heading to start-ups to give you guidance.  
  4. It’s potentially risky.  Even if you’ve identified a start-up and it wants to hire you, there may be concern about the risk involved, particularly as there may not be a structured path of advancement or training relative to a more conventional position or program.  

One compelling illustration of what can happen when you address these issues is Teach for America, which last year drew 46,000 applicants for 4,500 teaching positions, including 12% of Ivy League seniors applying.  Teach for America is a role model in its success in attracting a critical mass of talent to an underserved sector.  

We must make it easier for our top graduates to choose to join promising start-ups and early-stage companies.  Only then will we seed the wellspring of innovation that will enable us to create the thousands of jobs we need and keep our economy competitive.  

I have spent the last several months traveling to Detroit, Providence, New Orleans, and other cities and found dozens of promising companies that are all hungry for talent.  There’s a supply and a demand – we just need to connect the two sides.  

Venture for America is a new national non-profit that will recruit top college graduates to work in start-ups and early-stage companies around the country with a focus on regions undergoing economic change (e.g., Detroit, New Orleans, Providence).  Venture Fellows will attend a 5-week Training Institute at Brown University with seasoned entrepreneurs and investors next summer before going to work at their companies.  The goal is to funnel a new generation of talent into the start-up ecosystem to both support current companies and, over time, create new ones.  Our stated goal is to generate 100,000 U.S. jobs by 2025.  

If we provide a concrete runway to our best and brightest to create opportunities for themselves and others, they will embrace the challenge and renew our nation’s economic future.  

If you know an enterprising college senior or recent graduate who wants to learn how to build businesses and create opportunities, please send them to www.ventureforamerica.org to apply.