What’s The Rush? Round 1 vs Round 2 For MBA Applicants

Navigate the MBA Maze - download your free copy today!Right now, most of my clients are scurrying about trying to complete their round 1 applications.  Many of them will be ready to submit for round 1, but there are a handful of clients I’ve suggested wait until round 2, and we’ve discussed whether or not there is a true advantage to round 1 vs. round 2.  For some schools, like Columbia that use rolling admissions, there is most definitely a distinct advantage, but for the bulk of the schools that use rounds, there is truly no advantage.

As a former Admissions Dean and Director, my job was to project the number of offers I could make given the Dean’s enrollment target and my projected applications. The projections are typically quite accurate and based on several factors including the number of GMAT/GRE reports sent to a given school, the overall number of test takers, the number of inquiries a director observes compared to the number of inquiries year to date. With this information at hand, a director instructs his or her admissions team to invite a percentage of the applicant pool to interview (or in the case of open interviews, advises his or her team to make a percentage of offers).

When the admissions team begins to make offers in round 2, the director uses the same percentage because he or she does not yet know the yield on any of the decision he or she has made round 1.  Round 1 tends to be a smaller pool and more clear cut (very qualified candidates and also weaker candidates that believe that Round 1 gives them an advantage over round 2).  Schools tend to encourage round 1 applications to smooth out the bottlenecks in round 2 because round 2 tends to be 2 to 6 times the size of round 1 and the adcomm is not only reviewing and interviewing applications in round 2, but also trying to yield the round one candidates. Once first round admitted applicants begin to make enrollment deposits (typically in round 3), the director will adjust the percentage of admits for all subsequent rounds and for the waitlist, often looking at the waitlist at the same time he/she is reviewing round 2 or 3.

So, what does all this mean for you? If you aren’t ready for round 1, don’t worry. Your chances of getting in for round 2 should basically be the same for schools that do not roll their admissions. If you are ready to apply in round 1 and the MBA program admits you, you have the advantage of knowing your fate earlier, obtaining financial aid, visas, housing and getting to know your classmate and you can alleviate your safety schools from your list, sit back and relax.

12 Terrific Tips for MBA Applicants - Download your free copy today!

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.


Related Resources:

• Which Round Should I Apply to Business School? [Short Video]
• MBA Maze: Application Timing
• MBA Admission: The Great Round 1/Round 2 Fight

Wharton: “Putting Knowledge Into Action”

Register for the webinar!Episode 4 in our Big Brand Theory Series for MBA applicants: Wharton’s motto.

Does the oldest business school actually have a brand?  Does the oldest business school actually need a brand? Ironically, Wharton is a more powerful global brand than the elite Ivy League university of which it resides.  In fact, many people don’t know that the University of Pennsylvania is a highly regarded Ivy League institution. Outside the United States the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton’s “parent” university is often confused with Penn State University, the “parent” university to the Smeal College of Business, to the humorous consternation of both schools.

As I searched through Wharton’s collateral, it was difficult to zero in on its point of view. However, its tagline, putting knowledge into action, was easy to find. But I ask, is Wharton’s tagline synonymous with its brand?  I will go out on a limb here and say, “no.” Wharton is its own brand.  Wharton is Wharton. But the admissions officers and their marketing colleagues are giving you a hint through this tag line that they are seeking students who can “put knowledge into action”.

How does one “put knowledge into action”?  Well, I would venture to say that you would put knowledge into action the same way Columbia students “bridge theory with practice” and how Michigan Ross students put “thought into action.”  These taglines sound extremely similar, but they do get to the crux of the type of student these schools seek.

Wharton seeks a student who can take the information that he or she gathers from school, the workplace, the community, and the world, process the information and then act on the ideas and concepts acquired.   As an applicant you need to demonstrate that you not only know the information, but that you have implemented the concepts that you’ve learned. For more information on how to do explain this process in an essay, read my blog post “Show me, Don’t Tell Me.”  While I wrote the blog for PhD students, the “theory” applies to MBA candidates as well.

In the application, the main essay looks toward the future, so you can’t demonstrate that you have the trait to turn your knowledge into action in the main essay. You can only explain that you can act on your knowledge in the work experience, extracurricular activities and community service section in the application.  You can also establish that you offer this trait on your resume and in optional essay 1.  

I’ll focus on optional essay 1 for the purpose of this blog. I suggest exhibit how and where you learned about something and then acted upon it in optional essay 1.  Did you read about a theory in a book and then test it out in the real world?  Did you hear a political pundit on the news describe something and gather your friends in a grass roots effort to implement or refute the pundit’s opinion?  A great example comes from a environmentally astute MBA.  He believed that if areas of the world that don’t have access to potable water were given access to potable water that it would lessen the political unrest in these countries where access to water is a big issue.  He researched his theory through expert white papers and journal articles. He tested his theory by creating a process to make polluted water potable and distributed his patented invention to several regions that suffered from political unrest.  He put his theory into action, and had results that proved his theory worked in over half of the regions where he distributed this process.  He is now working with a manufacturer and an NGO to gain more distribution throughout the world.  

While your example doesn’t need to have the kind of impact that changes the world, it does need to describe in detail, what you did to make a difference.  Did your Relay for Life impact the latest therapies for cancer?  Did your understanding of the book Trading Systems that Work lead you to pursue a finance degree?  Did your Improvisational class at school help you become a skilled public speaker?  Did you learn something from a colleague at work or at school that enabled you to arrive at a better answer.

Their tagline is put to the test during their Team Based Discussions.  If you are invited to participate, you are given a mini-case, asked to present a solution and then work for 35 minutes with a team of potential future classmates to come up with the best or optimal solution.  The evaluators will observe how you synthesize the information around the table and use it to come up with a viable action Wharton can use in the future.

So while Wharton’s brand stands alone, its tagline is instrumental to the success of your application.  For more information about successful strategies on your Wharton application, register for Accepted’s Get Accepted to Wharton Seminar and contact our consultants for assistance with your application.

Register to learn how to get accepted to Wharton!

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.


Related Resources:

• Wharton 2016 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines
The Wharton Difference
• Wharton B-School Zone Page

MBA Admissions Decisions: Should You Go Full-Time Or Part-Time?

Get your free guide to selecting the best MBA programs for you!

Full-time or Part-time?

When I was applying to b-school, I contemplated part-time vs. full-time, and one of my best friends, Colleen, had to make the same decision at the same time.

Ultimately, I decided to attend the full-time program at the University of Michigan. Colleen decided to attend a part-time program at the University of Michigan. We shared 60% of the same classes, 40% of the same professors and even had a class together (Michigan offered, at the time, courses where they reserved half the registrations for full-time students and half the registrations for part-time students). Since that time, they dramatically changed the full-time curriculum and it is unlikely that we would overlap now like we did then. However, I graduated two years before Colleen with a unique internship, an opportunity to begin a new career and a lot of debt. Colleen advanced quickly with the company that hired her upon our graduation from college and graduated without debt because her company sponsored her education. We both have the same degree.

Now as an Accepted.com consultant and as a former Admissions Director and Dean of full-time, part-time and EMBA programs, I lend you my insight and guidance from the other side of the table in this brief analysis of programs.

Full-time programs: Traditional full-time programs are the media darlings of MBA programs. A school’s reputation relies mostly on its full-time program rankings. They consume the largest portion of the school’s budget, and they rarely make revenue for a school. More than 90% of all scholarships and fellowships are dedicated to full-time students. Full-time programs are perfect for career-changers in the 23-30 year old age range that can afford the opportunity cost of leaving work to immerse themselves in education and experience. If you choose this experience, you will feel like you are an undergraduate again with clubs and activities, but the workload will be greater. You will have access to on-campus recruiting (I always recommend you conduct your own off-campus job search in parallel with on-campus recruiting), company presentations, fellowships and scholarships and a lot of fun. Full-time students prioritize the job search and school. Family often gets the short stick, but there are typically resources to support a spouse. If you are single, it’s a great opportunity to form a romantic relationship. My grad school roommate found the love of her life in our core operations course.

Part-time programs: Part-time programs are the cash cow of MBA programs and have to live in the shadow of their smaller full-time counterpart. They take very few resources, but they often share the same faculty as the full-time program. Many professors would rather teach at night or on the weekend to lighten their teaching load and dedicate their days to research. Schools will also complement the faculty with adjuncts in part-time programs. Aggregated, the part-time applicant pool is not as competitive or as diverse in terms of admissions as schools typically receive fewer applications, and they are limited to their immediate region and the industries that dominate that industry. Furthermore, schools have the capacity to serve at least as many and often more students than their full-time counterpart.

As much as schools say the quality of the full-time students and the part-time students are the same, the quality is dependent on location and how that location generates applications. Bigger cities have an easier time of attracting great applicants to their part-time program and can maintain higher quality standards, but full-time programs generate applications from around the globe and it’s much easier to pick and choose candidates for admission.

Part-time programs are perfect for the 24-35 year old career enhancer, but rarely serve the career changer. Part-timers typically do not have the same access to comprehensive career services as full-time programs because company presentations and interviews are typically held during the day. At one school for whom I worked, we dedicated one career services staff member to all of our professional programs (part-time, EMBA, on-line) serving over 1000 students and 5 career services staff to the small 200-student full-time program.

Part-time students can often get full or partial sponsorship from their company lessening the financial burden, but do not typically have access to fellowships or scholarships from the school. It typically takes students longer than 2 years to complete a part-time program and part-time students prioritize work first, school second and again, family gets the short end stick. Part-time students often feel like the stepchild of the full-time counterparts.

EMBA programs: EMBA programs are also lucrative for schools, but they typically are not as large as full-time programs, and schools charge a premium to attend an EMBA program. They are perfect for students in the 30-year-old to 42-year-old age range that have been supervising employees and that have the support of their executive management to attend a program because executives view these students as fast-trackers in their company. These programs are typically held every other weekend and offer no fellowships or scholarships because schools expect the student’s company to sponsor the student partially or completely. EMBA students typically prioritize work first, family second and school last. While EMBA students may cross from technical supervisory roles to business supervisory roles in their companies, EMBA programs do not cater to the career changer only the career enhancer. Schools take care of their EMBA students for their tuition premium. However, these students rarely interact with either the part-time or full-time students, but bond well with their cohort and the faculty.

Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One - Download your copy today!


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.

Related Resources:

• Ace the EMBA
Tips for Applying to Part Time MBA Programs
• The MBA Family: A Roundup and Overview

Do Stanford GSB Grads REALLY “Change Lives. Change Organizations. Change the World.”?

Check out Stanford GBS zone page!Episode 3 in our Big Brand Theory Series for MBA applicants: Stanford GSB’s motto.

Who wouldn’t want to change lives, change organizations, and change the world?  Right? For Episode 3 in our Big Brand Theory series, I set out to prove that Stanford GSB admits, transforms and graduates students who accomplish great feats.  I wanted to demonstrate that Stanford GSB students, faculty and graduates lived GSB’s brand.

I’ve always been a big proponent of Stanford GSB (even when they had classrooms and desks that reminded me of my high school).  Regardless of their old environs, the Knight Center makes their facility live up to their students and their program.

I love the vibe when I walk onto Stanford’s campus.  I love the fact that their students have infinite access to Silicon Valley.  I love that the faculty turns their electives over so frequently that the course catalogue reads like a fresh new book each year.  I love the questions Derrick Bolton asks on his application.  In fact, I love Derrick (don’t tell my husband).  I do believe Derrick has done a great job in selecting some of the smartest people I know.  My clients who have gained admission to Stanford surprise me with their intelligence, talent, accomplishments and ideas.  They are futurists who can see beyond the horizon, but they still need me to plant the seed for their ideas to grow into great essays and interviews.  Regardless, I love my clients too (my husband already knows that fact).

Stanford GSB Alumni: Famous and Infamous

However, when I looked at Stanford GSB’s list of “notable” alumni, I only saw a handful of game changers.   The list is similar to those I see at other schools with notable founders, CEOs and investors like GM’s first female CEO, Mary Barra, Acumen Founder Jacqueline Novogratz, Charles Schwab of Charles Schwab, Nike’s Phil Knight, Ultra-investor Vinod Kosla, Atari’s Nolan Bushnell, KPCB’s Brook Byers; notable authors like Tom Peters and Jim Collins; and “famous celebrities” like Alex Michel (Alex Michel, really?  Do “reality” TV participants count as celebrities? More importantly, does anyone really watch The Bachelor?).

Stanford has also has its share of CEOs and a handful of leaders who have been heavily criticized like former BP CEO, Lord John Browne who was forced to resign, not because BP’s Texas City, Texas plant exploded under his watch or because he commissioned Deepwater Horizon that also forced his successor’s resignation, but because a newspaper “outed” him when he lied under oath about his boyfriend/male escort. Lord Brown cut costs for financial gains and as a result, he changed BP and also the Gulf of Mexico.

Go Deep and Authentic for What Matters to You Most

So how can you present the fact that you will change the world for the better?  Stanford asks two questions that I know Derrick and his team really take to heart.  My clients typically struggle with “What matters most to you and why?” The latter part of this question being equally, if not more important that the former.  This question requires a tremendous amount of introspection and if done well should show that you have the heart to change the world.

It requires you to know yourself at a very personal level and share that self-awareness with an admissions committee.  It’s not easy, and the best essays I’ve seen on this topic have knocked the wind out of me.  Several have made me cry. It is a dig deep into your soul question.  Derrick is a very smart and authentic individual, and he wants to get to know what drives you.

I begin brainstorming this question with clients by asking them for what they would give their life.  At that point, you already know it will be an intense brainstorm.  Often I hear, “family” or “helping others,” which can fall into the trap of discussing work. I ask my clients to frame this into a one- word value, and then I begin to peel away the layers until we find something deep and raw and revealing. After this digging, my clients also understand why they feel this value is most important to them.

Most of those clients have gained admission to Stanford GSB.  Some have not. The application is a complete picture and while you have revealed something raw to the committee, you may have other flaws in your application.

Why Stanford: Reveal the Capacity to Effect Change

Or you may not demonstrate in your “Why Stanford?” essay that you have already or have the capacity to change lives, change organizations, and yes, change the world.  If the first question is about heart, the second question is about intent and ability.  Do you intend to initiate change and have the talent to make it happen?

You really do need to think beyond the horizon for Stanford and make certain that you know why you need the Stanford MBA for you to create change: Jacqueline Novogratz did it; Vinod Kosla did it; and of course, Phil Knight did it. You just need to “just do it” like them. Swoosh.

Register for our free webinar: Get Accepted to Stanford GSB!

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.

Related Resources:

• Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One
• Understanding Stanford GSB’s Take On Demonstrated Leadership Potential
• Stanford GSB 2016 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

Applying For Your MBA Through The Consortium: Best Deal In Town

Download our 'MBA in Sight: Focus on Management" guide, today!Our consultants receive a lot of questions from clients about applying to MBA programs through The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management.  I’ve heard myths flying around that applying to one (or more) of the 18 Consortium schools through The Consortium’s application is disadvantageous.  But as the former director at two Consortium schools, I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth — provided you meet the Consortium’s minimum qualifications.

Though the requirements, the schools, and the corporate partners have changed over its 49-year history, the Consortium is not only the best deal in town; it also gives Consortium members an alumni network that expands throughout the 18-member schools.

Initially, The Consortium provided opportunities for young African American men to have a fair chance at rising up the corporate ladder via the MBA. Later, the Consortium added Hispanic Americans, Native Americans and women to its mix.  Membership came along with the fellowship.

However, after the Supreme Court decided on the Gratz vs. Bollinger and Grutter vs. Bollinger cases, the Consortium opened up its doors to offer membership to selected applicants that further the mission of The Consortium in providing inclusion of African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans in business.  Members and fellows do not have to belong to these groups. Thus, membership is no longer race-based, but rather mission driven.  Applicants must also demonstrate the ability to succeed in an MBA program.

Like the undergraduate Common Application, candidates can apply to up to 6 Consortium schools with only one application for a fraction of the cost the candidate would incur applying to each of these schools separately.  The catch:  the candidate must rank order the schools.  Having just attending a Consortium recruiting event, the Admissions representatives on the panel suggested that candidates rank order the schools from the most preferred to the least preferred.  However, in order to obtain a fellowship, I believe there is a strategy involved in the ranking.

To be sure, Consortium membership assures the candidate of access to the orientation and corporate partners.  In fact, many candidates receive internship offers prior to the start of school.   Membership, however, does not guarantee admission to the schools of choice, nor does it guarantee a full-tuition fellowship.

To summarize the benefits:

1. One application for up to six schools at one low cost.

2. Access to vast alumni network of 18 schools that includes mentorship from Consortium alumni (formal or informal).

3. If selected as a member, access to corporate sponsors at orientation

4. If selected as a fellow, full tuition and stipend

To learn more about applying through the Consortium and the strategy behind the rank order, please contact me for a free consultation.  Moreover, Accepted will offer Consortium applicants a special coupon code for 10% off all purchases of $2000 or more for services to help you apply through the Consortium. The best deal in town just got even better.

Download your 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.


Related Resources:

5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid In Your MBA Application Essays [Free Guide]
• The Consortium: Diversifying B-School and Corporate Management [Podcast]
• Approaching the Diversity Essay Question