Show Me The Money

You may get accepted. You may get rejected. Either way, you need to answer one question: "Now what?"

I’ll give you a little advice…everything is negotiable.

On a day like today, I’m doing my happy dance.  My MBA clients have been contacting me with good news from the schools to which they applied.  Several of them have multiple offers with scholarships attached, which immediately present the question:  Can they negotiate their scholarship offers?

Since most of you have yet to take your MBA negotiations class, I’ll give you a little advice…everything is negotiable.  You have an offer of admission and unless you did something egregious that the schools discover in their background research, the school will not take that offer away from you.  In fact, the schools want you to come to their programs so much that they’ve offered you scholarships, tuition discounts, or graduate assistantships to entice you away from other schools.  You are in the power position, but you have limited time to act.

If you have multiple scholarship offers, you have even more power.  So play the schools off each other.  You will need to provide proof of funding and develop a clear statement of what it would take to have you deposit and attend that school.  If school A matches school B’s offer, go back to school B and ask for more.  Many schools have some wiggle room with scholarship offers.  And the worst-case scenario is that school A will say “no” to your request and then there is no harm and no foul.

Caution: While you may be in the power position, remain likeable, respectful and courteous. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by coming off as arrogant.  And if you have deposited at a school, you have diminished your position of power.

If you need additional consultation on this matter, we are available to help you construct the communication that in the words of one of my former clients made his “investment in Accepted.com a very positive ROI.”

Download your copy of MBA Admissions A-Z: 26 Great Tips

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

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Do Low Stats Sink Your App?

Got low stats? Join our webinar, Get Accepted to Top B-Schools With Low Stats!

If you have low stats, you’ll have to be strategic about your application choices.

Applicants and Admissions Directors almost always seek the same thing. Applicants want to be desired by Admissions Directors and Admissions Directors want their schools to be desired by applicants. Applicants want to optimize their ability to gain admission to the highest-ranking school that fits their education/career needs, and Admissions Directors want to optimize their ability to climb in the rankings, so that applicants will continue to find their schools desirable.

Logic has it that if Admissions Directors can change the input of the rankings by increasing test scores and GPA (a metric that fails to take into account the school of origin and the rigor of the curriculum), then the school should climb in the rankings. However, in a year like 2015, where 20% of the schools that consistently see 80% of the applicant pool all had double-digit application increases, we know the schools will stay relatively the same in the rankings. In fact, the USNews ranking hasn’t changed dramatically over the years for this very reason:  the schools move in a group.

It’s a vicious cycle that often leaves incredibly gifted and desirable applicants in the dust. It’s also a vicious cycle that leaves incredibly forward thinking/innovative schools in the dust.

If you are an applicant with high aspirations and low statistics, you need to be strategic about your actions and your application choices but there are also several things you can do to improve your chances of acceptance.

1. Request an assessment: Obtain a realistic assessment from an admissions officer or an admissions consultant.  The assessment should give you an indication of schools that would be stretch for you, schools that match your qualifications, and schools that you should select as safeties.  You would be surprised to learn the number of C-level executives and successful entrepreneurs who attended safety schools.

2. Cast your net widely: Note that the larger the class, the better an admissions director can hide his or her lower statistic candidates. Look at the Forbes wealthiest individuals and aside from the over-proportional number of drops outs (note: I believe in education opening doors and do not condone dropping out of school even if you are Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Marc Zuckerberg or Sheldon Adelson), you will see a lot of billionaires that attended schools that many prospective students don’t have on their radar.

3. Be proactive:  if your grades tanked, take classes to mitigate concerns before you apply.  If your scores tanked, obtain tutoring you need to bring your score up (tutors have helped my clients increase their scores dramatically in just a few hours of intense study).

4. Show your interest:  Visit the school.  Get to know students and alumni who can go to bat for you on your behalf.

5. Be interesting:  One-trick ponies don’t make for interesting reading. The Art of Admissions is very much like blind dating.  It’s up to you to get the admissions committee interested in eating a 5-course meal with you rather than speeding through a cup of coffee.

6. Make a compelling case of acceptance.  Show fit with the school’s culture, strengths, and values. Reveal leadership, contribution, impact, innovation, and a track record that will cause the admissions readers to say “Wow!”

As an admissions director, I was more likely to invite the person behind an interesting, well-written application for an interview – regardless of stats.  If a candidate could engage me in the interview, I would recommend a well-spoken, witty candidate over someone who had high numbers and offered only one dimension.

Of these lower statistics students whom I accepted, many have become successful business people – and some of the most prestigious alumni.
Download your free copy of Navigating the MBA Maze!
Natalie Grinblatt Epstein By , an accomplished Accepted.com consultant/editor (since 2008) and entrepreneur. Natalie is a former MBA Admissions Dean and Director at Ross, Johnson, and Carey.

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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 Accepted.com consultant/editor (since 2008) and entrepreneur. Natalie is a former MBA Admissions Dean and Director at Ross, Johnson, and Carey.

 

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What MBA Applicants Should Do After Submitting Their Application

Conduct more research on your intended goal in anticipation of an interview invitation

Within twelve hours I heard the same question from three clients, so I suppose this question may be on the minds of more than three, “now that I’ve submitted my applications, what should I do?”  The following are a list of suggestions:

  1. Continue to learn about each school by speaking with faculty, alumni and students.  The more information you have the better.  Be conscious of their limited time, so be thoughtful with the questions you ask. In addition, you may wind up with an unsolicited endorsement of your candidacy.
  2. Conduct more research on your intended goal in anticipation of an MBA interview invitation.  If instance, your intended goal is consulting, read The McKinsey Way or BCG on Strategy.  If you are an up and coming entrepreneur, Back of the Napkin or anything by Peter Drucker or Guy Kawasaki.  If you are transitioning into marketing, check out Communities Dominate Brands or Marketing Strategy: A decision-focused approach.
  3. Attend any events the school may be having (including virtual events).  Stay involved.  Show your interest.
  4. Make up for any gaps you may have in your application (quantitative skills, volunteer work).
  5. Create new opportunities to add revenue, decrease costs, increase efficiency, increase market share, increase shareholder value, increase safety, increase satisfaction (customer or employee) at work.
  6. Use your leadership skills with any opportunity you can imagine.
  7. If you haven’t been doing so yet, begin reading business press.  You need to understand the jargon, the acumen, and what drives business today.
  8. Now sit back and relax.  Schools receive the largest number of apps in the second round and if they use student readers, the students are on vacation until sometime in January leaving a big bottleneck in the review process.  Learn to be patient.  A must-have in this process.

If you have additional questions or concerns about applications, please contact Accepted.com.  My colleagues and I are available to consult with you.

Do you know the 10 commandments of MBA interviews?

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

 

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Are You Growth Minded? Mastering Kellogg’s Changing Brand

Episode 2 in our Big Brand Theory Series for MBA applicants: Northwestern Kellogg.

Two days before Kellogg’s Dean Sally Blount announced Kellogg’s motto change from “Think Bravely” to “Inspiring Growth,” I received an email and video link in my inbox from my education hero, Sal Khan about why he will never tell his son that he is smart.

His Khan Academy disrupted the education paradigm and made me a super fan years ago when my then, 10-year-old son ran into my arms, but not for a hug…no, he wanted my computer so he could earn badges. At first I thought he was planning to play a game. I limited his computer use to 15 minutes and then watched him open up the Khan Academy site and whiz through math problems that were two grades ahead of his own (earning his badges along the way). I didn’t take the computer away until dinnertime.

His love for the Khan Academy reminded me of Dr. Carol Dweck’s research on motivation, success and the growth mindset. I had read her work a few years before my son fell in love with the Khan Academy. In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, which I highly recommend if you are applying to Kellogg, she compares and contrasts growth-oriented minds and fixed minds

The growth mindset is something to behold, and I watched it unfold over the years as my son solved my husband’s 5X5X5 Rubik’s cube, conquered my father in chess, and created “inventions” that he thought would make my life easier. I love the way his mind works. Thank you, Sal Khan and Thank you, Carol Dweck.

However, as a former admission dean and director, I often wondered when I would see Dr. Dweck’s concepts flourish in business schools. While I think several schools filter applicants for growth mindsets and challenge their students to stretch themselves, Kellogg’s new brand strategy was the first time I’ve seen Dr. Dweck’s approach become the very essence of the school.

Just as the growth mindset is dynamic and constantly seeks challenges and change, Kellogg has also reinvented itself many times over. I don’t think people will ever get over the fact that Kellogg is a marketing giant. However, since Dean Blount’s arrival, they’ve moved from “Team-Oriented” to “Think Bravely” to “Inspiring Growth” in the span of just a few years. These moves are reflected in their essay prompts, in their video essays, and in their interviews. You as an applicant need to respond to this change and address the filters Kellogg has added to its admissions process.

When working with clients applying to Kellogg, I always discuss my clients’ greatest challenges; then I push and push and push, until we discover something that they were initially afraid to reveal. If you are doing this yourself, realize that this inquiry means going deep within your psyche to figure out if you truly have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset (and I always recommend reading Dr. Dweck’s research. See link to her book above).

If at the end of our meetings my clients realize that they are not happy stretching, taking risks, and testing themselves, I ask them to rethink their school choice. Yes, Kellogg students are team-oriented; yes, Kellogg students are bright; yes, Kellogg students are personable, but Dean Blount got it right: Kellogg students are intellectually curious. They are resourceful. They challenge themselves to go beyond what they think are their limits. They have a growth mindset, and Kellogg inspires that growth.

For you the Kellogg motto means showing that you have the mindset to benefit from and contribute to Kellogg’s community dedicated to growth. As you apply to Kellogg demonstrate that you share Kellogg’s commitment to growth as an individual and as a future leader of your community and the business world.

(Look for Next Week’s Episode in the Big Brand Theory: Does Stanford Really Change the World?)

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs - A Guide to Selecting the Right One!

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

 

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