INSEAD Essay 3: Writing About Cultural Diversity

Click here for INSEAD Essay Questions and Tips

Ready to answer the diversity essay question?

For those of you struggling with INSEAD’s cultural diversity question [Essay 3. Tell us about an experience where you were significantly impacted by cultural diversity, in a positive or negative way. (300 words max.) and the INSEAD EMBA choice of questions for Essay 5. Have you ever experienced culture shock? What insights did you gain? OR Describe the ways in which a foreigner in your country might experience culture shock. (500 words max.)], Pamela Druckerman has provided an interesting starting point in her New York Times Op Ed piece “Decoding the Rules of Conversation”.

Druckerman is an American expatriate in France and typically writes about the cultural differences she notices in French child rearing. On the other hand, “Decoding” explores not only how her de facto French children speak and interact, but also how French adults do, with added insight into UK culture thanks to her husband’s British background.

While Druckerman’s mention of British self-deprecation is well known, her description of the French emphasis on one-upping and even humiliating others will certainly come as a culture shock to many. Non-French INSEAD applicants exposed to these behaviors could discuss their own experiences navigating the team environment in France where, according to Druckerman, it is de rigueur to emphasize one’s intelligence at the expense of his or her peers’. Conversely, a French professional working in a global environment could share his experience adapting to a culture that places more emphasis on teamwork and gaining support from others – where he could no longer employ the French strategy of putting everyone else down.

Druckerman demonstrates the cultural astuteness that INSEAD is seeking in its students. Sharing an example of your own cultural insight and response to cultural challenges is essential to any applicant to this renowned international business school.

Applying to INSEAD? Check out our application essay tips!

Jennifer Bloom By Jennifer Bloom who has been helping applicants to the top MBA programs draft their resumes, application forms, letters of recommendation, and essays for 15 years. She is happy to serve as your personal coach and hand-holder throughout the entire process. There’s no time like the present to begin!

Related Resources:

Best MBA Program: A Guide to Selecting the Right One
• An Inside Look at INSEAD
• Tips for Applying to European B-Schools

Interview with a Techie at Chicago Booth

Click here for more b-school student interviews!This interview is the latest in an blog series featuring interviews with current MBA students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top MBA programs. And now for a chat with Andrew Edelman, a student at Chicago Booth.

Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What was your most recent pre-MBA job?

Andrew: Thanks for featuring me on! I was born in Paris, France, but grew up here in the U.S. where I spent most of my youth in the Boston area. Needless to say, I really enjoyed the outcome of this year’s Super Bowl!

I attended Davidson College in North Carolina where I received a B.A. in Economics with a Concentration in Applied Mathematics. At Davidson, I was captain of the Men’s Division I Swimming team and met my future wife who was captain of the volleyball team. We now have two amazing sons, the second of whom was born during my first week at Chicago Booth. I always say my wife is my secret weapon during this business school journey.

Immediately before attending business school, I was a Vice President at Corrum Capital Management, a boutique alternative investment management firm headquartered in Charlotte, NC. Upon moving to Chicago and before starting classes, I did a two-month internship with a classmate’s startup that was participating in Chicago Booth’s Polsky Center Accelerator Program. My experience was actually featured in a recent WSJ article about pre-MBA internships and was an exciting opportunity to diversify my skill set before starting summer internship recruiting.

Accepted: Where are you currently in b-school? What year?

Andrew: I’m a second year at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. It’s hard to believe I’m already entering my final quarter; graduation is less than 100 days away!

Accepted: Why did you choose Booth? How would you say you’re a good fit for the program? Which other programs had you considered?

Andrew: I choose Booth because I wanted to surround myself with extremely intelligent, high quality people. From the incredible faculty to my impressive classmates to the accessible alumni, I’ve been fortunate to learn from such a diverse and humble group.

I’ve personally benefitted most from Booth’s pay it forward mentality that permeates career preparation and recruiting. I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to give back as a member of the Graduate Business Council and co-chair of the Booth Technology Group.

My business school decision came down to Booth and UC Berkeley (Haas), both great programs. It was a difficult decision, but after visiting Booth during the admitted students weekend, now called First Day, I knew it was the right fit for me.

Accepted: And if you could change one thing about the program, what would it be?

Andrew: With evening, weekend, and PhD programs, Booth is unique in the sheer number of working professionals concurrently pursuing their MBAs. Although I’ve taken a couple evening classes at our downtown Gleacher Center, I feel that most of my academic experience has been centered down at the Harper Center in Hyde Park and kept separate from evening/weekend students. With more work experience on average and equally diverse backgrounds, I wish I had more organized opportunities to interact with these students to expand my network and learn from their experiences.

Accepted: Where did you intern last summer? Can you tell us about the role Booth played in helping you secure that position?

Andrew: I did my summer internship at Google in Mountain View. I was an MBA intern with the Global SMB Solutions team, which is responsible for increasing product adoption and driving revenue growth with small and medium businesses. It was an amazing experience!

As a career switcher, from financial services to tech, the preparation and mentorship offered through Career Services and the members of the Booth Technology Group were invaluable to my success securing a coveted spot at Google. I also benefited from the advantages of Booth’s flexible curriculum that permitted me to take courses early in my first year to prepare for the internship, including the experiential Developing New Products & Services course that paired my group with a leading digital media company for a consulting project.

Many people assume that because Booth is in the Midwest there are fewer opportunities in the technology industry, but that’s a common misconception. I had internship interviews with five of the largest technology companies in the world and was one of a dozen Boothies at Google this summer. In fact, Booth placed more students from my class in tech internships than investment banking, second only to consulting. It’s a trend that is developing at business schools across the country and it’s exciting to see Booth leading the way!

Chicago also has a very underrated tech scene that is booming. Booth has been a large contributor with successful startups growing out of our New Venture Challenge like GrubHub, BrainTree, and MuSigma.

Accepted: Likewise, if you have a job lined up for next year, can you talk about how Booth was involved in that process? What’s recruiting like on campus? How early does it start?

Andrew: I’m excited to be returning to Silicon Valley as a Management Associate with Box in their Rotational Leadership Program. I was looking to join a smaller tech firm full-time, so the majority of my recruiting this year was done off-campus. I was able to leverage the Booth network and my experience at Google to gain access to several high-growth tech companies.

Although I didn’t participate in on-campus recruiting for my full-time search, I can tell you that it does begin very quickly, pretty much right when we all return from our summer internships in late August. There tends to be a flurry of on-campus activity the first two weeks back, which this year included tech firms like Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung.

Accepted: Looking back at the MBA application process, what would you say was your biggest challenge? How would you advise others who are facing a similar challenge?

Andrew: The biggest challenge for me was managing the surprisingly demanding application process while balancing my career and family responsibilities. Looking back, I wish I had started the process earlier to meet the Round 1 deadlines and not felt obligated to push my applications back to Round 2. In addition, it’s become increasingly difficult to fully showcase your whole self in such a short amount of space and limited word count. Getting to an interview was my biggest objective because I knew I could better convey a sense of self than I could in an essay.

Accepted: How are you enjoying your time in Chicago? How does student life differ there than in North Carolina?

Andrew: My wife and I always joke that if you could remove the harsh winters from Chicago it would easily be the best city in the U.S., if it’s not already. We’ve honestly loved our time here in Chicago. We live downtown where we have several world-class museums, an abundance of amazing restaurants, and even the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan right at our doorstep. Having grown up in the Northeast, the winters have not been too bad for me, but I definitely feel for my classmates from South America who are experiencing true winter for the first time.

It’s hard to compare my undergrad experience in Davidson, NC to my graduate student experience here in Chicago. Overall, studying business at Booth in a big city like Chicago has been a great complement to my liberal arts education at a small school in rural North Carolina. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both experiences!

For one-on-one guidance on your b-school applications, please see our MBA Application Packages. 

You can read more about Andrew’s journey by checking out his Twitter and LinkedIn pages. Thank you Andrew for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!

Learn how to get accepted to Chicago Booth!

Accepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy

Related Resources:

• Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One
Chicago Booth 2015 MBA Questions, Deadlines, Tips
• Chicago Booth: A Social Experience Outside of My Comfort Zone

The MBA Family: A Roundup and Overview

Not Sure which MBA program is right for you?  Download a free guide!At its core, the MBA is a graduate program in business administration for professionals who seek knowledge, skills, a credential, and/or a network to advance in business and to maximize their business performance.  While “MBA” makes many people automatically think of a two-year, full-time program, in recent years the variations on the MBA theme have multiplied, in order to meet changing and diversifying needs and interests of students and organizations.  Here’s a roundup of the main MBA options that are currently available, and their benefits and drawbacks.

Full-Time MBA Programs: This is a two-year, full-time program with an internship in the summer.  It targets business (and sometimes other) professionals with roughly 3-8 years of experience.  Obtaining a new position post-MBA is often a major focus of students, and recruiting by potential employers is a significant benefit of attending a full-time MBA.

Pros: close and sustained interaction with other full-time students, ideal for career changers, internship opportunity, strong recruiting.

Cons: significant opportunity cost, time away from industries that are undergoing rapid change.

Part-Time MBA Programs: Ideal for people who don’t want to leave their company or industry for any significant period or who can’t afford to stop working. Such programs target people who are employed full time, under the premise that students’ ongoing work will inform classroom discussion and projects. Part-time MBA students trend a little older than full-time MBA students.  While these programs have traditionally served local students, increasingly they are offering varied structures and online components to attract distance students.  They do not generally offer access to recruiters.  Often admission is less competitive than for the same school’s full-time program, enabling part-time students to obtain a “brand” they may not qualify for otherwise.

Pros: can continue to work/earn, apply learning in real time, access to top-tier programs.

Cons: take longer, no internship, usually no recruiting, it can be grueling to work and study simultaneously.

One-Year MBA Programs:  Of course, most European full-time MBA programs are one-year.  Some top US MBA programs, e.g., Cornell’s Johnson and Northwestern’s Kellogg, have offered one-year options for a while, and others are joining the fray as demand for such programs grows.  Often these one-year programs have special requirements, such as some prior business education or an advanced degree.  They are ideal for people who don’t need an internship and who have a strong base of experience; not usually the best path for career changers.

Pros: the intensity of a full-time program with less opportunity cost, usually regular recruiting, ability to quickly rejoin a fast-moving industry.

Cons: no conventional internship, less time to network with students and faculty.

Executive MBA Programs:  EMBAs are part-time programs targeting seasoned managers and entrepreneurs, typically people from mid-thirties to late forties (depending on the program) whose rise to senior manager level is imminent or who are already in senior management.  There is range within this category in terms of desired/required length of experience.  While coursework covers the same topics as regular MBA programs, it’s developed and presented with the higher level perspective.  A great benefit of EMBAs is the chance to network and form relationships with peers from a variety of industries and functions at a career phase when a fresh perspective is quite valuable but sometimes hard to obtain.  These programs don’t target career changers, but are increasingly used by and open to them, even though most EMBA programs don’t offer formal recruiting.

Pros: can apply learning immediately at work, breadth of exposure at a pivotal professional moment, valuable credential.

Cons: challenge of school plus demanding career and personal/family responsibilities, usually no formal recruiting for career changers.

Specialized MBA Programs: These programs offer the MBA course with focus on a specific industry or function; there are such options among both regular and executive MBA programs.  They vary in their formats and approaches.  Boston University’s Public & Nonprofit MBA is an example of a two-year specialized MBA; UC Irvine’s Health Care Executive MBA (HCEMBA) is an example of a specialized EMBA.  A relatively new one-year specialized MBA is Cornell Johnson’s Tech MBA.

Pros: intensive focus on area of interest with coursework adapted accordingly, network of colleagues with related experience and goals.

Cons: missing out on the diverse perspectives from other industries/sectors that can refresh and invigorate your thinking.

While you can’t apply to two different types of MBA programs at the same school in the same admissions cycle, you can do so in different cycles.  And you can apply to different types of programs at different schools at the same time.  For example, if someone is between regular and executive MBA in terms of age or length of experience, he could apply to some regular MBAs that trend older and some exec MBAs that trend younger.  Or someone may apply to full-time MBA programs but also apply to a part-time program nearby as an acceptable back-up.

Please do keep in mind, and address in your application, the nuances of the type of MBA as well as the particular program!

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs
Cindy Tokumitsu By , author and co-author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports, including Why MBA and Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her fifteen years with

Related Resources:

MBA Action Plan: 6 Steps for the 6 Months Before You Apply
Tips for Applying to Part-time MBA Programs
• Ace the EMBA

3 Ways to Make Your Own Student Loan Luck

Not sure how to fund your MBA? Listen to this podcast for pointers.

Luck can’t pay off student loans, but YOU can!

“Diligence is the mother of good luck.”  – Benjamin Franklin

If you’re one of the 37 million Americans with student loans, you know it’s going to take a lot more than a few four-leaf clovers to make your debt disappear. You wouldn’t rely on winning the lottery in order to pay your loans, would you?  Unfortunately, neglecting to understand the various loan repayment options can be just as foolish, because you may be missing out on opportunities to reduce or even eliminate your debt burden. Essentially, leaving your loans to chance could mean leaving money on the table.

Rather than wait around for good fortune to find you, take a proactive approach by seeing if one of these three options apply to you:

1.  Spend money to save money
. All education loans, whether federal or private, allow for penalty-free prepayment, which means that you can pay more than the monthly minimum or make extra payments without incurring a fee. Prepaying may sound painful, but the benefits can be huge. The more you do it, the sooner you’re done with your loans – and the less interest you spend over the life of the loan.

Let’s say you have a $100,000 student loan balance at a 6.8% interest rate and 10-year term. If you increased your monthly payment by just $100, you’d save about $5,600 in total interest and pay off your loans about a year early. Or perhaps you pay down an extra $2,000 per year using your annual bonus, saving yourself about $7,400 in interest and paying off your loans about 1.5 years early. Every borrower’s situation is different, but you can do the math on your own loans with a calculator like this.

One thing to note – prepaying is most effective when the extra cash is applied directly to your principal, rather than being earmarked for future payments.  It’s best to check with your loan servicer to see what their policy is before increasing or adding extra payments.

How to get lucky: Commit to increasing your monthly student loan payment each time you get a raise and/or putting a percentage of every bonus toward your loan balance.

2.  Recalibrate your rate
. One of the fastest ways to slash your student loan burden is to lower the interest rate on your loans, which can only be accomplished through the act of refinancing. In addition to reducing the amount of interest you pay on your loan over time, refinancing can allow you to make lower monthly payments or shorten your payment term (so that you can be done with your loans sooner).

Student loan refinancing is still a relatively new option, so many borrowers who could be eligible to refinance aren’t even aware the opportunity exists. Which is unfortunate, because the savings can be significant.  For example, the average SoFi borrower saves $9,400 when they refinance with us.*  In addition, some private lenders offer additional benefits to borrowers when they refinance, such as complimentary career coaching and entrepreneurial support.

How to get lucky: When shopping around for a refinance lender, be sure to compare interest rates as well as other potential benefits.

3.  Ask for forgiveness. What borrower hasn’t fantasized about winning the lottery and paying off their loans in one fell swoop?  Unfortunately, you’re more likely to get hit by an asteroid than win a seven figure jackpot. So what’s the next best thing? How about making your student loan balance magically disappear.

It sounds too good to be true, but this is the basic idea behind student loan forgiveness. Surprisingly, there are quite a few ways to get your loan slate wiped clean, but the most well-known one (and the one that applies to the most people) is the government’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. Under the program, borrowers who work full-time for a qualifying public service organization may be eligible to have federal loans forgiven after 10 years of on-time monthly payments.

Before you skim over this section and assume that PSLF won’t apply to you, consider this: The CFPB estimates that about one in four working Americans has a job that meets the definition of “public service”, and yet they believe a “substantial sum” is left on the table by borrowers who don’t take advantage. This may be because the definition is broader than what most people would expect – for example, soldiers, doctors at non-profit hospitals and public defenders are all examples of professions that may qualify a borrower for PSLF.

How to get lucky: Find out if you qualify for PSLF or other forgiveness programs by contacting your student loan servicer.  

*SoFi average borrower savings assumes 10-year student loan refinancing with a weighted average rate of 7.67% and a loan balance of $86,000, compared to SoFi’s median 10-year rates of 5.875% (with AutoPay).

This post is by Anna Wolf and originally appeared on the SoFi Blog. SoFi connects alumni borrowers and investors to refinance private and federal student loans.

Learn how to use sample essays to create an exemplary essay of your own! Helping You Write Your Best

Related Resources:

• SoFi: Alumni Funded Student Loans
Tips for Financing Your MBA
• PayScale: How Much You Can Earn, and How to Earn It

Tips for Applying to European B-Schools

Click here for more European school essays and tips

Do you know what you need to do to get admitted to a European MBA program?

Applying to a European MBA program isn’t quite the same as applying to an American program. The programs themselves often have a different focus than U.S. schools, and adcoms therefore look out for different skills and qualifications. I’d like to direct you to the following resources on our website – blog posts that focus specifically on how to answer specific questions on specific European b-school applications. Please check them out and be in touch if you have any questions!

Tip Posts for European B-Schools:

• ESADE 2015 MBA Essay Tips

HEC Paris 2015 MBA Essay Tips

HKUST 2015 MBA Essay Tips

IMD 2016 Essay Tips

INSEAD 2015 MBA Essay Tips

London Business School 2015 MBA Essay Tips

London Business School 2015 MiM Essay Questions and Tips

NUS MBA 2015 Essay Tips

Oxford Said 2015 MBA Essay Tips

For more advice, I recommend you check out these podcasts that feature interviews with adcom members from top European b-schools – it’s always good to get advice from the source itself!

• The Scoop on the London Business School Masters in Management Program

• Interview with Philippe Oster of HEC Paris

• An Inside Look at INSEAD

Linda AbrahamBy Linda Abraham, president and founder of and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.