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, RoadToMyMBA…
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?
RoadToMyMBA: Hi, I’m a 26 year old financial consultant from Brazil. I have a BA degree in international relations from a private university here in my city and I’ve also studied economics for 3 years in another university but did not obtain this second bachelor’s degree since I’ve put my registration as “on-hold.”
I currently work for a Big 4 consulting firm in the corporate finance area. I work with valuation, M&A and long-term fundraising projects with companies of various sizes throughout Brazil. I’ve been working here for about 4 years and right now I’m a Senior Consultant.
Accepted: Where do you plan on applying to b-school?
RoadToMyMBA: I’m planning to apply exclusively to US MBA programs and right now I’m narrowing my choices, but they are between Tuck, Stern, Darden, Fuqua, McCombs, Kenan-Flagler and Kelley. I know it’s a lot of options but it’s a hard decision, especially for me that can’t travel to the campus and to the best MBA events in USA. I’m doing my best to make the right choice.
Accepted: What attracts you to the U.S. programs, as opposed to other top schools in Europe or Asia?
RoadToMyMBA: When I was younger (15 years old to be precise) I had the opportunity to live in the USA for one year as a high school exchange student. Since then, I’ve thought to come back and live in the USA for a longer period.
Another important aspect is how well renowned the American universities are in business education. I’m looking forward to studying with some bright students and world-class faculty.
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?
RoadToMyMBA: I’m pretty much in the beginning of my application. I truly believe that I will only be able to apply in the second round for all MBA programs I’ve chosen so far.
The most challenging step so far is the GMAT. I did my first GMAT test two weeks ago and scored a low 560. Right now I’m back to studies since I’m planning to retake the GMAT in mid-November.
Accepted: Do you plan on staying in your current industry post-MBA, or changing to a new field/career?
RoadToMyMBA: I would like to change my career to work in the financial sector, such as investment banking or private equity more precisely. Since I work as a corporate finance consultant, the change will not be very hard. At least that is what I think…
Accepted: Why did you decide to blog about your experience? What have you gained from the experience? What do you hope others will learn?
RoadToMyMBA: The main reason is to help others in the same situation as me (professionals coming from emerging countries that want to do a top notch MBA abroad and needing some help in the process).
The other reasons are to help improve my communication abilities in English and to make me relax a little bit during the whole process.
For one-on-one guidance on your b-school application, please see our MBA Application Packages.
You can read more about RoadToMyMBA’s b-school journey by checking out his blog, Road to My MBA. Thank you for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!
Exciting news! LinkedIn just launched new rankings that connect prospective students to universities based on career outcomes. Here’s how they did it (in their words) using software developers as an example:
1. First, we identified the top companies where software developers are choosing to work.
2. Next, we found people on LinkedIn who work as software developers and saw where they went to school.
3. Finally, for each school, we found the percentage of these alumni who’ve landed software development jobs at these top companies, then compared the percentages to come up with the list.
You can look up your prospective career, and then view the top universities with the most graduates in top companies in that prospective career. LI defines the most desirable companies as those “that are the best at attracting and retaining talent in that profession.”
For example, let’s take a look at finance professionals. The following schools were ranked based on how successful recent graduates were at landing desirable finance jobs.
1. University of Pennsylvania
For marketing professionals, the list goes as follows.
1. University of Pennsylvania
2. University of Michigan
8. UC Berkeley
10. University of Texas at Austin
One quick flaw that I see here is that you don’t know the difference or magnitude of difference between the schools. Also some of the categories are very broad, like “media professionals.” That could include writers, actors, musicians, business people – these are all people involved in media.
But the concept of ranking which schools send the most grads to specific fields, or even better yet, to desirable employers in those fields is a good one IMO.
You can read more about their methodology here.
Princeton University is among the top schools in the nation and is recognized globally for academic excellence. This Ivy League school is renowned as a major research university as well as an outstanding liberal arts college. Princeton requires supplemental essays in addition to the Common Application or the Universal College Application essay. These additional essays help the admissions committee to get a more comprehensive understanding of your particular strengths and how you might contribute to the Princeton community. Princeton prides itself on the diversity of talents, achievements, perspectives, and interests of its student body. It is looking for a freshman class that shares the following qualities: “integrity, a deep interest in learning and a devotion to both academic and non-academic pursuits.” Think about how you can contribute to Princeton as well as how Princeton can support your aspirations.
Princeton offers a nonbinding, single-choice early action program, listed on the Common Application as restrictive early action. Under this program, you may not apply to any other early program at a private college or university however; you may apply to any non-binding early program at a public institution. This is a good option if Princeton is your first choice. The early action deadline is Nov. 1. Students admitted early may defer their admission decision to May 1st, which is the deadline to accept Princeton’s offer for regular decision. The deadline to submit regular decision applications is January 1st.
Begin by doing your research. Adhere to deadlines and word-limits. Spend time looking over the Princeton website, get to know what current undergraduates are saying about the school, familiarize yourself with the various majors, imagine yourself there, if possible visit the campus, allow yourself to get excited about this opportunity, and make every effort to gain a sense of why Princeton is the ideal academic environment for you!
Located suburban setting, Princeton is primarily a residential campus with a strong liberal arts focus. Its residential college structure, freshman seminars, and preceptorial system support the tight-knit student community. These are hallmarks of an education at Princeton and demonstrate the university’s commitment to student centered learning within the context of a diverse student body, faculty, and staff.
As you address the following Princeton supplemental questions, consider how your responses reveal your intellectual curiosity, passion for learning, and engagement with the world.
Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences that was particularly meaningful to you. (About 150 words)
Use this opportunity to discuss an interesting aspect of an extracurricular activity or work experience that imparts something significant about your character. For example, if you were involved with the Boy Scouts, many students talk about leadership in general terms instead; focus on a particular event in Boy Scouts where you took on a leadership role and why that was meaningful to you. Or perhaps there was a specific incident in your job that required you to take on additional responsibility, showcase what that reveals about your values. Consider what makes this activity or work experience distinctive and what it demonstrates about your character.
Please tell us how you have spent the last two summers (or vacations between school years), including any jobs you have held. (About 150 words)
This prompt asks you to share what you do when you are not in school. This may include just about anything you do outside of school. Don’t panic if your summer experiences were not exotic. The key here is to express your interests and perspectives about how you spent that time. What did you learn? This response provides insight about your life experience and background.
Your favorite book and its author
Your favorite movie
Your favorite website
Two adjectives your friends would use to describe you
Your favorite recording
Your favorite keepsake or memento
Your favorite source of inspiration
Your favorite word
Your favorite line from a movie or book and its title
As you consider how to answer the questions above, remember that Princeton is looking for independent thinkers with creative minds who are engaged with the world around them. Make sure to consider what your answers might indicate to the admissions committee. These responses provide clues about the kind of person you are and the kind of prospective Princeton student you might be. They also reflect the way you think and what you find interesting, fun, and motivating. Be truthful but also try not to mention anything that might be considered offensive.
In addition to the Common Application essay and Princeton-specific short answer responses, a themed essay of 250 to 650 words is also required. Be aware that you should not reiterate any portion of the essay you used for the Common Application.
Using one of the themes below as a starting point, write about a person, event, or experience that helped you define one of your values or in some way changed how you approach the world. Please do not repeat, in full or in part, the essay you wrote for the Common Application.
Tell us about a person who has influenced you in a significant way.
Discuss a person who has made a difference in your way of thinking that subsequently influenced your actions and/or behavior. This is someone who has inspired you, convinced you, and/or challenged you in some way. As you choose a person who has influenced you, also consider what you value about that person and what that might reflect about the sort of person you are. This response tells the admissions committee the kind of person you aspire to be and what characteristics you hold dear. It is okay to compare yourself directly with this person. Just be sure to avoid being boastful- focus on how they inspired you to define your values and the way you approach the world.
“One of the great challenges of our time is that the disparities we face today have more complex causes and point less straightforwardly to solutions.” Omar Wasow, Assistant Professor, Politics; Founder, Blackplanet.com This quote is taken from Professor Wasow’s January 2014 speech at the Martin Luther King Day celebration at Princeton University.
This prompt lends itself to a discussion of civil liberties and civil rights. Your response can tie to local or global issues. Begin by considering a broad range of inequalities, but focus on something specific and significant to you. Consider the current state of inequalities– racial, sexual, political, economic, gender. Consider old approaches and new solutions. Think about the complexity of solutions in day-to-day interactions/business as well as the bigger picture (actively promoting equality). This response illustrates to how you think through complex issues and how you interpret varied sources of information. How do you make sense of the world around you? How does this impact your personal values? What sort of solutions do you have in mind to address the disparities? What issues or aspects of these topics will you explore further at Princeton?
“Princeton in the Nation’s Service” was the title of a speech given by Woodrow Wilson on the 150th anniversary of the University. It became the unofficial Princeton motto and was expanded for the University’s 250th anniversary to “Princeton in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations.” Woodrow Wilson, Princeton Class of 1879, served on the faculty and was Princeton’s president from 1902–1910.
A response to this prompt will likely address leadership, service to your community, and/or service on an international level. What will a Princeton education allow you to do as a leader in your field? How do your previous leadership roles create a foundation for the sorts of leadership roles you will pursue at Princeton? What does service to others mean to you? This is a great place to discuss your involvement with community service projects. You can tie your response to local and international concerns. Focus on how the experience influenced your values or approach to the world. What are your visions for the future and how does Princeton support those plans?
“Culture is what presents us with the kinds of valuable things that can fill a life. And insofar as we can recognize the value in those things and make them part of our lives, our lives are meaningful.” Gideon Rosen, Stuart Professor of Philosophy, chair of the Council of the Humanities and director of the Program in Humanistic Studies, Princeton University.
This prompt illustrates the sort of things you find valuable– traditions, family, religion, etc. This is about how you appreciate/perpetuated/embrace culture in day-to-day routines as well as lager patterns of thoughts and behaviors. It is also about where you come from and what impact that has on you. This is a good place to discuss your family’s history and culture. How do you see yourself within a specific world context? Discuss your culture and what is meaningful to you. Remember to relate this back to how culture defines your values and the way you approach the world. Also discuss how a Princeton education fits into the picture.
Using a favorite quotation from an essay or book you have read in the last three years as a starting point, tell us about an event or experience that helped you define one of your values or changed how you approach the world. Please write the quotation, title and author at the beginning of your essay.
This prompt sets the stage to discuss just about any topic! As you select your favorite quotation, consider what it reveals about your values and how you look at the world. This response hones in on the process of critical thinking and evaluation. It allows you to discuss your identity and perspectives and asks you to articulate how you approach the world around you. It tells the admissions committee more about who you are and what is important to you. Remember to discuss how your values and world perspective make Princeton a place where you will flourish.
Each of these essay prompts ask you to share something personal about yourself, discuss how the experience impacted you, and how you make sense of your world. They ask you to articulate your values and provide insight into your thinking process. They also reveal how you evaluate information and make decisions. Select the themed essay topic that strikes a cord with you. Make sure to convey your enthusiasm for that subject and for Princeton.
It is no surprise that Princeton has a highly competitive and impressive applicant pool. It received 26,641 undergraduate applications for the class of 2018. Only 1,983, or 7.4%, were offered admission and 96% ranked in the top 10% of their high school class. Add to that, average SAT scores of 745 in critical reading, 755 in math, 750 in writing and an average ACT score of 33 and you get an better sense of the level of competition. However, keep in mind that Princeton is committed to a holistic approach to the admissions process. This means they use your essay responses to round out the picture of you as a prospective student. The supplemental essays are your chance to share critical information about yourself. There is no magic formula to gain admission to this prestigious Ivy League school. As you survey the numbers, it is clear that you must use your essays as an opportunity to differentiate yourself from your peers and to demonstrate that you belong at Princeton!
By Marie Todd, Accepted’s college admissions specialist. Marie has worked in college admissions for over twenty years. She has both counseled applicants and evaluated applications. Most recently she evaluated 5000+ applications for the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts; College of Engineering; School of Kinesiology. She is available to assist you (or your child) with your applications.
• School-Specific Common App Supplemental Essay Tips
• Common App Supplemental Essay Tips
• From Example to Exemplary, a free special report.
Listen to the full recording of our podcast interview with Arthur Ahn, Senior Manager, Product Development at Kaplan Test Prep for the GRE and the GMAT for some great insight into test prep, test taking and what matters to admissions committees.
00:01:00 – Linda answers the oft-asked question: “I got accepted to School X. Should I attend?”
00:05:03 – The test prep biz: Instructing students, but not as the enemy.
00:06:23 – What Kaplan offers future GMAT and GRE test-takers.
00:08:28 – GMAT vs GRE: Differences in prepping & test taking.
00:16:04 – Why a low GRE score is the biggest application killer (by far).
00:22:31 – Is it the total GRE Score, or section scores, that make it or break it.
00:28:32 – Arthur’s top 3 GRE prep tips.
00:30:34 – How to make the big GMAT vs GRE decision.
00:34:20 – Too early to assess: Do applicants with lower scores have a better chance of admissions with one test over the other?
00:39:12 – Why most b-schools don’t really care yet about GMAT IR section scores.
00:47:25 – Last minute advice for exam takers.
*Theme music is courtesy of podcastthemes.com.
• Kaplan Survey: Two Years After its Launch, a Majority of Business Schools Still Not Sold on the Importance of the GMAT’s® Integrated Reasoning Section; Most Deem it Unimportant, but Students Ignore it at their Own Risk
• What’s the Biggest Graduate School Admissions Application Killer? A Low GRE® Score, According to Kaplan’s 2014 Survey of Admissions Officers
• GRE® Test Takers Are Successful in MBA Programs
• Kaplan GRE Prep on Twitter
• Kaplan GMAT Prep on Twitter
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Your Interview Goal. It’s three-fold:
Show fit. In the words of the Wharton Adcom Blog, “The interviewer is assessing your fit for the Wharton MBA program.” Think of your professional and educational background and needs and the school’s methodology, strengths, and career opportunities. Realize, however, that the interview is not just about you as a professional: it is also about you as an individual and human being.
Inform the school about recent accomplishments and achievements. Did you retake the GMAT? Earn an A in calculus? Get a promotion? Take on a leadership role in a new project? Try to inform your interviewer of any new attainments. Doing so will strengthen your profile overall and portray you as a growing, dynamic individual.
Demonstrate your communications and interpersonal skills. The latter is important for all, but critical if English is your second language and/or your transcript and test scores lead one to question your communications skills.
MBA Interview Tip #1: Enter the interview with SID:
• Show you are a match with the program.
• Inform the interviewer of recent accomplishments.
• Demonstrate your interpersonal skills.