PhD Applicants: Show, Don’t Tell

Show the adcom your strenths, don't just state them.When I was Admissions Director at Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management, I asked my colleague and friend, Dr. Robert Bloomfield, who led our Ph.D. program, “What characteristics do you seek in the Ph.D. candidates you invite to interview?”  Rob’s answer sounded oddly familiar.  A few weeks earlier, I had asked my brother Mark, who led U.C.L.A. Anderson’s Ph.D. program, the same question.  In fact, as I began to ask faculty in various departments and schools what they sought in their doctoral candidates, the answers were always the same: intelligence, unquenchable curiosity, subject matter passion, persistent stamina, criticism-seeking, ethical, self-aware individuals who offer a well-written Statement of Purpose (SOP) and a solid academic foundation for their area of study.

While I am not an accountant, a few years back, I was reviewing information in FASRI and ran across an article Rob Bloomfield wrote that I always kept in the back on my mind when helping my Ph.D. and MFE clients outline their SOPs. The outline is great, but what really sticks out for me and works for any essay are five simple words, “Show me. Don’t tell me.”  Maybe its because I love theatre and these words are a simplification of a line from writer/playwright/physician Anton Chekhov, “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

As an admissions director, “Show me. Don’t tell me” was my way of seeking evidence to support my applicants’ assertions of greatness, passion, achievement and even failure.  Who knew Chekhov would help guide my clients into the best undergraduate and graduate programs in the world?  Rob Bloomfield knew.

Offering examples, gives the reader the opportunity to understand the subject matter from your perspective and evaluate your claims: a responsibility the admissions committee must assume.  So when you sit down to write your statement of purpose, essays or conduct an interview, rather than stating that you have subject matter passion, show that you have subject matter passion by describing recent readings, experiences and outcomes.  For example, I could state that I have a passion for puzzles or I could explain that on Sunday, I solved the New York Times crossword in 40 minutes, a 4X4 Rubik’s cube in 10 minutes, and a complex logic puzzle in 5 minutes and watched my Netflix obsession The Bletchley Circle.

In other words, “Show me. Don’t tell me.”

Natalie Grinblatt Epstein By , an accomplished consultant/editor (since 2008) and entrepreneur. Natalie is a former MBA Admissions Dean and Director at Ross, Johnson, and Carey.


Related Resources:

Plotting Your Way to A PhD: 6 Topics in PhD Admissions
6 Tips for Getting Started on Your Essays
How to Prove Character Traits in Your Application Essays

Entrepreneurship at Stanford GSB: Carlypso Drives Down the Startup Street

Found this podcast interesting?  Click here to listen to more. Thinking of launching a disruptive start-up? Dying to attend a leading entrepreneurial MBA program? Well meet Nick Hinrichsen and Chris Colemen, founders of the start-up Carlypso, which Tech Crunch calls a “brilliant concept.” Oh, and they earned their MBAs in 2013 from Stanford GSB.

Listen to the recording of this intriguing interview as we discuss the founding of Carlypso, life as a Stanford GSB MBA student and the impact of the Stanford experience on the Carlypso launch.

00:1:37 –  You asked, Linda answers! Linda explains why you should only give ONE example or story when application questions ask for one example.  Adding more than one can do more harm than good.

00:5:08 – What is Carlypso?

00:7:30 – Where did the idea for Carlypso come from.

10:39 – Who benefits from using Carlypso?

12:40 – Did their Stanford MBA degree really help them?

19:10 – Are people overestimating entrepreneurship at Stanford?

21:42 –  The Stanford MBA’s impact on Nick’s and Chris’s work.

23:10 – The $50,000 coffee that helped start Carlypso.

26:14 – Interested in attending Stanford? Nick and Chris give tips on how to get accepted (and rejected).

27:45 – Fail, and fail gracefully, but don’t do it again.

Listen to the full conversation to learn more!*Theme music is courtesy of

Relevant Links:

Relevant shows:

Leave a Review for Admissions Straight Talk:

Check Out Admissions Straight Talk in iTunes! Check Out Admissions Straight Talk in Stitcher!

Get Accepted to Stanford Graduate School of Business! Click here to learn more! The Premier Admissions Consultancy


3 Reasons Why You Should Take an MCAT 2015 Diagnostic Test

Get ready for MCAT 2015Worried about the new MCAT? Prepare yourself with Next Step Test Prep’s new MCAT 2015 diagnostic test. Here are three reasons why you should take this high-quality practice exam…

1. To better acquaint yourself with the new test.

The new test has an increased emphasis on bio and biochem, as well as a new psychology and sociology section. Taking old practice tests just won’t cut it if you want to be prepared for the 2015 MCAT.

2. To determine your weaknesses.

Next Step’s diagnostic test results will clarify for you which areas are your strongest and which are your weakest. Once you’ve received your “diagnosis” (individual section scores, a total score, and detailed analysis), you’ll be able to work on those weak spots until you feel confident in ALL areas of the exam.

3. To learn a thing or two about time management.

One of the more difficult aspects of the new MCAT is the increased length. It is not easy to sit for eight hours, and you will do little to prepare yourself for the exam if you practice in short 1-2 hour spurts. Next Step’s four-hour diagnostic will not just help you in terms of content, but in terms of getting used to sitting for long periods of time and time management.

Sign up today to gain access to this valuable free resource. The Premier Admissions Consultancy

MBA Hiring Expected to Increase in 2015

MBA hiring expected to increase in 2015

72% of employers plan on hiring MBA graduates in 2015

GMAC’s 2014 Year-End Employer Poll

Here are some highlights from GMAC’s 2014 Year-End Employer Poll. Spoiler: It’s good news!

• 169 employers from 33 countries were interviewed. This is a relatively small sample.

• Overall, the job market remains strong for 2015 b-school grads.

• 90% of employers that expect to hire b-school graduates in 2015 expect to maintain or increase the number of job openings compared with hiring in 2014.

• 72% of employers plan on hiring MBA graduates in 2015, compared to 69% in 2014.

• The majority of employers (54%-74%) plan on increasing starting salaries at or above the rate of inflation in 2015.

• 64% of employers say that their companies are expanding and that they plan on hiring more business school graduates.

• 87% of employers expect to offer internships to students. Usually these internships will go towards bachelor’s graduates (73% of employers). This is followed by MBA grads (55% of employers).

• 96% of employers agree that business school graduates create value for their companies.

As usual, the greatest hiring demand is for MBA graduates; though Master in Management grads are projected to experience the largest increase in hiring.

GMAC Hiring report 2015 projections

According to GMAC’s Survey Research Manager, Rebecca Estrada Worthingon, “The solid job prospects for b-school talent seen over the past several years and again reflected in this poll, give prospective students good reason to consider pursuing these degrees as part of a strategy to drive their career goals….Our data show that even in the depths of the recession, business and management degrees can provide a measure of job protection and opportunity. Today, in a recovering global economy, management degrees can be a powerful driver of confidence and provide fuel for an individual’s career growth.”

See the 2014 Year-End Poll of Employers Report and the GMAC press release for more details.

Click here to download your free copy of Focus on Management Consulting The Premier Admissions Consultancy
Related Resources:

MBA Admissions A-Z: 26 Terrific Tips
Payscale: How Much Can You Earn, and How To Earn It
25 Top MBA Employers According to MBA Students

Med Student Interview with Amanda: “Be as Prepared as You Can Be”

Read more Med student interviews!This interview is the latest in an blog series featuring interviews with medical school applicants and students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top medical schools and the med school application process. And now, introducing Amanda Xi…

Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What’s your favorite non-school book?

Amanda: I was born and raised in metro-Detroit. During my Sophomore year of high school, I stumbled across an ad for the Acceleration to Excellence Program at Bard College at Simon’s Rock (Great Barrington, MA) and applied for it. By the Spring of that year, I was offered the full-tuition scholarship and made the decision to drop out of high school to attend this college early.

After I completed my Associate’s Degree, I transferred into the Biomedical Engineering program at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI) where I completed my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.

Before starting medical school at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, I worked at Terumo Cardiovascular Systems as an engineer for a few months – it was a great way to confirm that medicine was definitely a better fit for me than engineering.

My favorite book tends to be the one I’m currently reading. Today, that’s Atul Gawande’s new book, Being Mortal. I developed an interest in biomedical ethics over the course of medical school and his book does a great job encouraging medical professionals, caretakers and patients to take a moment to reflect on end-of-life planning.

Accepted: Where are you in med school? What year? What is your favorite thing about that program? Least favorite thing?

Amanda: I’m currently a 4th year medical school student and part of the Charter Class at Oakland University William Beaumont (OUWB) School of Medicine in Rochester, Michigan. My favorite thing about the program is how receptive administration has been over the course of the last 3.5 years in accepting and implementing our feedback.

When I started at OUWB, I knew that I signed up to be a guinea pig and as expected with any new institution, there were definitely bumps along the way (this is my least favorite thing). But this wasn’t a big issue for me because we had supportive faculty and staff working on every issue from the moment it surfaced.

Accepted: Do you know what you’ll be specializing in? Have you had any clerkships that have stood out?

Amanda: I applied to Anesthesiology residency programs this last fall. We had an elective month during our 3rd year; because I had an interest in the field (I later learned that engineers tend to naturally gravitate toward the specialty), I decided to do a clerkship in it. From Day 1, it was clear that the field was a good fit – I enjoyed the intellectual discussion, procedures and environment. Additionally, I felt comfortable working alongside the anesthesiology residents and attendings, which was important to me because I would be spending the rest of my life working with this group of individuals!

Accepted: Can you share some residency application tips with our readers?

Amanda: Be as prepared as you can be. That’s the best advice I can give – the process has a lot of little things to consider (e.g. which programs to apply to, how many, letters of recommendation, when to take Step 2, away rotations, etc), but if you start planning your 4th year during the winter of your 3rd year, nothing will surprise you when you start July 1.

Obviously if you are not sure what specialty you want to apply to, this is a bit more difficult, but you can still plan to do away rotations/sub-internships in the specialties you’re interested in and ask for letters in support of multiple specialties.

If you perceive that certain parts of your resume may hold you back (e.g. Step 1 score), think of ways you can show improvement (like taking Step 2 early). Make sure to ask the students in the year ahead of you about their experience and for specific advice tailored toward your situation.

Accepted: Looking back on the med school application process (if you can remember that long ago!), what would you say was your greatest challenge? What did you do to overcome that challenge?

Amanda: I submitted my primary and secondary applications on the later side, so the greatest challenge for me was trying to stay positive despite having no interviews for many months then later being waitlisted at the first two institutions I interviewed at. I didn’t get my first acceptance until 9 months after I started the process, so it was a tough time for me. I turned to my support system to keep me afloat and in the end, it all worked out.

Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? When and why did you start blogging?

Amanda: I started the summer before M1 year as a way to reflect upon the application process and answer any questions about attending a brand new medical school. It evolved into a cathartic outlet for me and the inspiration for my Capstone research project on social media. I slowed down in 3rd and 4th year to free up time for my other commitments, but hope to get back into the swing of writing more regularly when I start residency.

The direction of my entries may end up evolving away from a day-to-day discussion to more scholarly reflections upon current events in healthcare, but we’ll see! I’m also hoping to start a video blog series with advice on applying to medical schools and getting through medical school.

Accepted: Can you recommend a nice coffee shop on or around campus that you recommend for studying or meeting up with friends?

Amanda: I’m a Starbucks fanatic, so just about any one will do for me!

For one-on-one guidance on your med school applications, please see our catalog of medical school admissions services.

You can read more about Amanda’s journey by checking out her blog, And thus, it begins. Thank you Amanda for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!

Do you want to be featured in’s blog, Accepted Admissions Blog? If you want to share your med school story with the world (or at least with our readers), email us at

5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your Residency Personal Statements. The Premier Admissions Consultancy

Related Resources:

Residency Applications: How to Match

Help! I’ve Been Waitlisted – 6 Tips for Waitlisted Applicants

• Residency Application Tip: Settling, and How To Avoid It