Tips for Applying to Part-time MBA Programs

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Attending grad school while working is grueling, period.

The extensive available advice about applying to MBA programs was largely created with applicants to full-time MBA programs in mind. If you are applying to part-time MBA programs, most of this advice will be pertinent for you as well. But there are some nuances to applying to part-time programs that warrant attention.

The fact of working while you are studying is one, and it affects the application. The nitty-gritty of your daily work is a resource you will bring directly to class discussions and group projects. You can share the reality of your work world in “real time” with your classmates.  The adcoms view this factor as a core benefit of part-time programs and integral to their unique learning process.  Hence, in your resume, essays, and the application form, put thought into how you present your current work scenario; look at it from the eyes of prospective classmates.

Moreover, since you are continuing to work, your goals won’t necessarily start at the magic moment you graduate. So, in a goals essay (depending on how the question is worded) discuss specific goals that you want to achieve in your current role, while you’re in the program – doing so allows you to further illuminate your work. Part-time MBA programs are usually not for career changers, at least in the short term, and they may not open recruiting to them. Review the program’s policies about recruiting for part-time students before you say that you’ll be using it for post-MBA employment.

Attending grad school while working is grueling, period. Hence, adcoms look for evidence that you are prepared for it.  The last thing they want is students dropping out. Sometimes an essay question directly addresses this issue.  If not, it can never hurt to briefly convey awareness of the challenge and mention plans for handling it.  If you’ve previously successfully studied while working full time, note that fact.

Finally, for the bulk of part-time programs that target local applicants, their applicant pool may contain high concentrations from strong local industries, such as pharma and finance in New York.  Consider and address this factor in differentiating yourself.

Good luck with your applications!

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Cindy Tokumitsu By , co-author of The Finance Professional’s Guide to MBA Admissions Success, and author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her last fifteen years with

Emlyon Launches New MSc in Luxury Management & Marketing

Emlyon Business School (formerly École de management de Lyon) just announced the launch of its new pre-experience Masters in Luxury Management and Marketing, a program designed to prepare students for an international management career in the luxury industry.

The 16-month program, which will be run in collaboration with the London College of Fashion, will offer maximum exposure to the world of luxury goods and manufacturing. Classes are held on three continents; students will participate in an internship anywhere in the world.

This looks like a great way to acquire marketable skills while having a blast in Lyon, London, and Shanghai! See more info here.

 Click here to download your free report!

Brave New Worlds

Check out our GMAT 101 pages!Helen Keller once wrote: “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” This is an apt quote for many undertakings, and is particularly appropriate for folks setting out to pursue an MBA and entire all the risk and uncertainly of the modern global market.

In hero myths the world over, the hero who wants to attain some lofty goal (the Holy Grail, marriage to a beautiful maiden, etc.) must enter a region of uncertainty and challenge. Often, there’s some preliminary challenging figure at the outset, the Guardian of the Threshold, such as the Tuskan Raiders for Luke Skywalker.

For all who aspire to an MBA, that initial challenge is the GMAT. Standardized tests are always challenging, and this one reflects the uncompromisingly high standards of the business world. Certainly it’s very important to be aware of all the resources available from GMAC, the folks who write the GMAT. While those resources are expensive, the questions therein are by far the best preparation for the GMAT. In fact, I would recommend learning and warming up with other materials, and saving those official questions for relatively late in your studies, so they are the last things you do in the weeks leading up to your GMAT.

It’s also important to get acquainted with the simple logistics of the GMAT. How long is the GMAT? Where does one take it? What ID does one need? etc. etc. It’s very important to get all these little details sorted out well ahead of time, so that on test day, you can remain in your “game head” and not have to sweat niggling details.

Beyond this, it will be important to identify the best MBA Admission resources. There are some fantastic resources available for free, but unfortunately, there are others that so aptly fit the sarcastic description, “Free, and worth every penny!” It’s very important to have some wise guidance when wading through all these potential study aids, particularly if it is all new to you.

All this new information and all these new demands may be intimidating, but remember: how a person responds when facing the unknown is a defining aspect of that person. If you are the kind of person that easily gets overwhelmed and freezes in the face of the unknown, it’s somewhat unclear how you plan to make effective decisions in the ever-evolving electronically driven business world. This is a world that demands resilience and a lion-hearted confidence, and there’s no better place to begin exhibiting those traits than in your preparation for the GMAT.

Visit GMAT 101 for advice.

magooshThis post was written by Mike McGarry, resident GMAT expert at Magoosh, a leader in GMAT prep. For more advice on taking the GMAT, check out Magoosh’s GMAT blog.

Which MBA Programs Should You Apply to Next Season?

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Set the course for an efficient, productive application process.

“Which MBA Programs Should You Apply to Next Season?” is excerpted from the special report, Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One.  To download the entire free special report, click here.

It’s late winter or early spring, already in the ebb of the current MBA admissions season. That means it’s the perfect time for people planning to apply next season to break out of hibernation and start tackling a part of the application process that is often shortchanged: school selection.  Doing this part right sets the course for an efficient, productive application process with greater likelihood of satisfying results.

In 15 years of MBA admissions consulting I have found that otherwise highly capable and focused people often basically wing it when it comes to creating their school list. “I’m just applying to all the top ten.” Top ten according to what source? “I realize now [after R2 deadlines have passed] I was overreaching. Are there any good schools I can still apply to?” Probably. “I’m applying to H/S/W, with Duke as my safety.” Duke as your safety?

By starting to develop your list of prospective schools now, you can avoid these and similar problems (yes, these responses are all problems – real ones I’ve heard, more than once).

By approaching school selection thoughtfully and systematically, you will save time, money, and effort in the long run (even if you expend more of all initially). You will conserve precious energy for the nitty-gritty work of the applications. You will be able to start planning school visits and recommendations, two things that often get tangled up when first addressed in the heat of the application season.

In this series I provide various tips and approaches to developing a solid list of schools. Each person’s needs are unique, and there is no one formula that works for everyone, so I will guide you in asking the right questions, answering (or finding answers to) those questions, and deciding accordingly.

This series will cover, among other topics:

•  assessing your profile

•  the role of rankings

•  how many schools you should apply to

• identifying and prioritizing your b-school needs and wants.

Ready? Here are a couple of things you can and should do right now to get started on the school selection process for next season:

•  Capture on paper or your preferred electronic medium those random thoughts that have been floating around in your head, for example, “top 10,” “friendly to older applicants,” “strong quant focus,” “need to be within an hour by plane from my ailing mother.”

•  Read blogs of MBA students not just at schools you’re already interested in but from a wider array of schools – both the substance and the tone of those blog posts will give you a subjective feel for different programs and your own responses to them.

•  If possible talk to MBA students and ask them about their school selection process; what went well and what proved difficult or problematic; ask what they would do differently.

•  Visit schools now! Visit schools you know you are interested in (you can always re-visit later), schools you might be interested in, and even schools on the margins. It’s the perfect time: schools are in session, you’re not pressed by the application process yet, and it’s close enough to application time for your insights from the visits to be relevant if you discuss them in essays. Take advantage of travel you may do for business or pleasure to schedule a visit, rather than trying to cram everything in the fall—when you’ll be even busier than usual with applications plus work. Moreover, visiting now gives you time to digest and reflect on your campus experiences.

Join us live for "The Secret to MBA Acceptance"!
Cindy Tokumitsu By , co-author of The Finance Professional’s Guide to MBA Admissions Success, and author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her last fifteen years with Accepted.

IV with a UC Berkeley Haas Admitted Student and 2013 MBA Launcher

Check out the rest of our MBA Applicant Interview series!This interview is the latest in an blog series featuring interviews with MBA applicants, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at the MBA application process. And now…introducing Marisa who will be starting at UC Berkeley Haas in the fall.

Accepted: Let’s start with some basics: Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What is your favorite non-school book?

Marisa: I’m from Santa Barbara, CA, but went to college at Northwestern University, where I majored in Middle East History and International Relations.  My favorite non-school book is “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini — he’s such a powerful storyteller.

Accepted: Congrats on your acceptance to Haas! How would you say that you’re a good fit with the program?

Marisa: Thank you!  I was really attracted to Haas’ four Defining Principles, but particularly “confidence without attitude.”  When I visited the school and spoke with both current and former students, I found this cultural attribute to be absolutely true — these people are rockstars, but they are humble about their accomplishments and eager to collaborate with others.  I think this phrase describes me pretty well.  I’m confident and ambitious but don’t like to be a jerk about it, and I certainly don’t believe that my success should come at the expense of someone else’s. Plus, I truly believe that humility is essential to good leadership, and I like how Haas emphasizes that as a key aspect of their culture

Accepted: Which other b-schools had you considered?

Marisa: I applied to Stanford’s GSB in Round 1, and Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business in Round 2 (but withdrew my application after being accepted to Haas).  I also strongly considered Northwestern’s Kellogg SOM but ultimately decided I did not want to return to Evanston.  I don’t like to repeat experiences, even though I’m sure Kellogg itself would have differed from undergrad.  Also, it’s freezing.  But we’ll pretend that wasn’t a serious factor…

Accepted: What are you most looking forward to in starting b-school in the fall?

Marisa: I’m most looking forward to meeting my classmates and hearing about their experiences and goals for the future.  I’m also looking forward to some of the experiential education opportunities at Haas, like the International Business Development course and Social Sector Solutions consultancy.  As a history major, I rarely had the opportunity to directly tie my classroom learning to practical applications, so I look forward to learning new material in class and then applying it on projects right away.

Accepted: You have a really interesting work history — currently at Deloitte and previously at the FBI. First, can you tell us about what you did at the FBI (if you’re allowed…), and then, how did that lead you to Deloitte, and where do see yourself working post-MBA?

Marisa: My work history sounds more interesting than it is!  I was a strategic intelligence analyst in the FBI’s counterterrorism division, where I basically conducted research and wrote papers (sounds like a history major, right?).  The intelligence products I wrote, and briefings that I gave to decisionmakers, theoretically helped guide investigations of terrorist activity.  I did have some cool experiences (briefed the Director a couple times and traveled internationally to brief some partner agencies), but ultimately I found the pace a little slow and the bureaucracy more than a little maddening.  I was also far from the action on the ground, so I didn’t feel like I was able to have a true impact in my role.  Ultimately, it just wasn’t the right fit.

I saw consulting as an opportunity to help organizations like my previous employer address the issues that get in the way of executing their missions effectively. So last January I joined Deloitte as a consultant in their Federal Practice here in DC, where I have been working with IC clients on things like strategic planning and business process improvement. I have also been heavily involved with the Federal Women’s Initiative (WIN), founding and leading the WIN Gen Y team focused on engaging and empowering junior women professionals in the Federal Practice. Deloitte is a great company and I’ve learned a ton, but I feel ready to take the next step in my career with an MBA.  Post-Haas, I see myself working in international development consulting, helping organizations create positive social and economic impacts in emerging markets (specifically, in the Middle East).

Accepted: Can you tell us about your experience as a 2013 MBA Launcher? And what about your experience with Forte? Are these programs that you’d recommend to other b-school applicants?

Marisa: I really enjoyed participating in the pilot Forte MBALaunch program.  For those who are unfamiliar, Forte Foundation established this program to help MBA-interested women navigate the application process, from identifying target schools to acing the GMAT to executing on essays and interviews.  In 2013, the program was launched in New York, DC, and Chicago and included an in-person kick-off event, monthly webinars, a personal advisor, placement in a peer group of other MBALaunch women, and attendance at a local Forte-sponsored MBA fair.

I found the monthly webinars, particularly the ones that forced me to really think about my “story” and how to present myself to the admissions committee, to be extremely helpful.  I don’t think I would have had quite the edge I needed without that guidance.  Plus, since the program started in January, it forced me to start thinking about the process very early, and then kept me on track for Round 1 submissions.

When I applied to the program, I was most excited about being paired with an advisor — a woman who had received her MBA and would help me through the application process.  However, I ended up finding the peer mentorship of my fellow MBALaunch women to be even more impactful.  My advisor provided some necessary tough love and advice — like insisting I consider retaking the GMAT when that was the last thing I wanted to do, which led me to improve my score by 30 points.  But my peer group provided me nearly constant support.  We shared resources, read each others’ essays, and advised one another when we ran into challenges.  In fact, even though the program has officially ended, we’re still getting together soon to help one of our members make her enrollment decision.

Overall, I had a really positive experience with MBALaunch and the awesome Forte women who run the program.  I hope to continue my involvement with Forte in the future.

Accepted: As someone who applied successfully to b-school, you must have some good tips to share. Can you offer 2-3 tips for our readers?

Marisa: Every applicant is different, but I can offer some general tips that worked for me:

1. Get beyond the rankings lists.  Really think about what you want, and what characteristics are important to you — class size, location, specific focus areas or experiences, recruitment relationships, etc.  It’s not as obvious as you’d think, so talk to those people in your life who know you best and can help you figure out what aspects of a program to prioritize.  And keep an open mind — your dream school might just surprise you.

2. Talk to current students at the schools you’re considering before you start your applications, especially if you’re unable to visit campus before applying.  Not only will this help you get a feel for a school’s culture and determine whether it’s a good prospect for you, but it will also help you target your essays and guide your recommenders in a way that demonstrates your fit with the school.  Speaking of guiding your recommenders…

3. Have candid conversations with your recommenders about why you’re applying to MBA programs, why you’re a fit with the schools you’ve chosen, and what questions they need to address in your recommendations.  I put together packets of logistical and background information for my recommenders, including deadlines, instructions, the specific questions (if available), and context on what I was hoping to get out of an MBA at each school.  Some recommenders will want you to write your own recommendations — resist the urge, and push back!  You can offer to provide as much or as little support they need in terms of brainstorming content and keeping them on track with deadlines, but ultimately the best recommendations are genuine.  If someone doesn’t want to write your rec themselves, they’re probably not the best person for the job.

4. Visit campuses in the spring before you apply!  I totally didn’t do this and wished I had, because many schools don’t open for tours prior to the R1 deadlines.

5. Be sure to take breaks to be with friends and talk about something — anything! — besides b-school.  When you’re head-down in applications with deadlines approaching, it’s tempting to shut everyone and everything out.  The whole process can become an obsession very quickly, so this is way easier said than done, but totally worth keeping in mind.

Join us live for "The Secret to MBA Acceptance"!

MBAs Across America: Entrepreneurs with a Heart

Listen to the Show!

Casey Gerald

Listen to the Show!

Michael Baker

Michael Baker and Casey Gerald, CEO & CFO of MBAs Across America are making the American dream come true in towns and cities across the country.

Listen to the full recording of our conversation to learn about MBAxAmerica’s past experiences, plans for the future, and what these two Harvard MBAs have to say about their time at HBS.

00:02:20 – What day one looked like for the MBAxAmerica team.

00:06:54 – Can Harvard educated MBAs relate to the challenges of a mom and pop shop?

00:11:01 – The proof of the pudding: How many entrepreneurs actually implemented the advice.

00:12:58 – Where is MBAxAmerica going next?

00:14:35 – The criterion for choosing MBAs and entrepreneurs for next year’s trip.

00:18:13 – Will MBAxAmerica expand beyond the MBA and the USA?

00:25:10 – The benefits on the MBAxAmerica internship for non-entrepreneurs.

00:27:20 – Mike and Casey’s biggest Aha moments of last year’s trip.

00:31:32 – Best Harvard Business School moments.

00:35:45 – Advice for next year’s HBS applicants.

Listen to the full conversation to learn more!

Admissions Straight Talk Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk in iTunes so you don’t miss a single episode! *Theme music is courtesy of

Relevant Links:

MBAs Across America
The Secret to MBA Acceptance Webinar
“M.B.A. Students Hit the Road to Help Small-Business Owners”
MBAXAmerica Application For MBAs
MBAXAmerica Application For entrepreneurs
From Psychology to the Media Industry, Strat and Harvard B-School

Related Shows:

•  MBAs Across America: The Coolest HBS Internship (Last year’s interview)
•  5 Million to Share: The 43North Competition
•  Case Interview Secrets and More with Victor Cheng
•  Business, Law and Beyond: An Interview with John Engelman
•  Dr. Douglas Stayman Shares the Scoop on Cornell Tech NYC
•  CommonBond’s Story: A Revolution in Student Loans

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Learn Key Secrets to MBA Admissions Success!

Shh…I’d like to tell you a secret…

Wait – you didn’t think I’d give anything away here, did you? To learn the secret to choosing the best MBA programs for you (and gaining acceptance to them), I’d like to invite you to attend our upcoming webinar, The Secret to MBA Acceptance.

In this webinar we’ll cover some important topics, including the #1 secret to success – understanding WHO YOU ARE and how you can make the right decisions that will land you in the best MBA program FOR YOU to reach YOUR GOALS (okay, I gave away some of the secret).

Find out what you need to know to get admitted to business school!

Learn more at our webinar on Wednesday, April 30th, at 10 AM PT / 1 PM ET. Register for The Secret to MBA Acceptance today to reserve your spot. The 1-hour webinar is free, but spaces are limited, so act now!

Learn How to Get Accepted to B-School!

Can I Use Humor In My Application Essays?

Want to let your funny side show in your application essays? Here is what Linda Abraham has to say about humor in admissions:

For more application essay advice, download a free copy of our popular special report Five Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your Personal Statement.

Cornell Johnson: A Visit

Check out our Cornell Johnson B-School Zone!

Sage Hall at the Johnson School

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University . A few elements in my visit really stand out, and I want to share them with you.

Class visit I attended a Managing and Leading in Organizations class taught by Dr. Kathleen O’Connor. She led with wit and humor a lively case discussion on Lincoln Electric. The high level of engagement impressed me. I sat at the back of a theater style classroom so I had a great vantage point. No one was surfing the web, checking email, or visiting Facebook pages. All were focused on the discussion at hand, and the overwhelming majority seemed highly prepared to deal with the questions posed, whether they volunteered answers or were cold-called.

I was also impressed with Dr. O’Connor’s practical approach. She mentioned early in the class that one outcome must be learning something from Lincoln Electric’s success that could be applied by the MBA students in future work. My sense was that her orientation is not unique to her or this particular case.

I met with a first-year MBA student before the class, and he proudly told me that he has a summer internship lined up, and that it was exactly what he had hoped for. He seems very happy with his Cornell Johnson experience. After class, when I commented on the lack of electronics in the classroom, he explained that Johnson classrooms are electronics-free zones.  Wise policy.

Meeting I also met with Christine Sneva, Executive Director of Admissions and Financial Aid, and Ann Richards, Associate Director of Admissions and Director of Financial Aid Latin America, East & Southeast Asia. Here are a few highlights of our discussion.

Portfolio of programs We spoke about the portfolio of graduate business programs Johnson at Cornell University has developed over the last several years, focusing mostly on the MBA programs. It was clear from our discussion that the two-year program and the different one-year programs each fill different needs in the graduate management education marketplace. Ann and Christine spoke proudly of the May launch of Cornell Tech’s one-year MBA program in Manhattan and its digital focus. They acknowledged the broadening of the one-year Ithaca program from one geared to people with advanced degrees in science and technical fields to one for people with an expanded array of higher educational achievement including JD, CPA, and other masters and advanced degrees. Then of course there is the two-year Ithaca program geared towards those seeking a broader and more traditional MBA education. They also indicated that other options may be coming.

Entrepreneurship A big buzz word and focus in top business schools now is entrepreneurship. While entrepreneurship is great, and I know my MBA was critical to my launching Accepted, I also know that it is still a path pursued upon graduation by less than 5% of new MBAs.  I expressed a certain skepticism about the current entrepreneurial obsession and received two great responses: 1) Many MBAs start their own business further down the road so ultimately they will be business owners. 2) Entrepreneurship is state of mind, a willingness to take risks and start something new. This mindset is something that can be taught and is valuable for existing companies who want to grow and respond to a dynamic and fluid market place. Cornell, which has evinced its own entrepreneurial spirit with the growth of Cornell Tech and the expansion of its programs, is walking the walk and talking the talk. Ann and Christine also told me that Ithaca is growing as an entrepreneurial hub for a few reasons:

1. The University resources are right there.

2. Since the cost of living is low, it is more affordable to attempt a start-up.

3. New York State is giving major tax breaks to start-ups in Northern New York.

4. Quality of life is good.

I’m glad I was able to visit Johnson at Cornell University even briefly. It’s in a gorgeous part of the country and housed in a magnificent facility. Enjoying the surroundings is a bonus, but the real value lies in seeing a school close-up, talking to members of its community, and being able to add greater context and insight to information found online, in brochures, and even gleaned from conversations. There is simply nothing like a visit when you want to learn about a school.

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs

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

Get a GRIP on Team Questions

Learn 4 tips for displaying teamwork in your application essays.

Remember that a tight GRIP = a tight team

I took away a lot of wonderful concepts, frameworks and strategies from my MBA education that led to a successful admission career. In fact, one of the most powerful lessons I learned at Michigan (now Ross) was how to lead and work effectively on teams.

Professor Noel Tichy, one of the gurus of Organizational Behavior and Leadership offered us a simple acronym that has stuck with me to this day: GRIP.  His theory was as follows:  if everyone on the team works toward a common goal that each individual fully understands and to which he/she commits; and everyone on the team understands and has the skills to carry out his/her roles and responsibilities; and everyone on the team shares information in a way that is productive; and the team has agreed to a process by which they will accomplish the goal, then the team will be effective.  In fact, our teams would periodically do a GRIP check to make certain that our GOALS, ROLES, INFORMATION and PROCESS would align to keep the projects moving forward.  When a team has only one GRIP element out of place, the team will be dysfunctional.

I use this framework with my clients when they need to describe their own teams’ successes or failures.  It helps them pinpoint what really happened to the team and not point fingers at an individual that may not have carried or had the skills to carry his/her weight because the “R” was out of alignment.  It helps them understand that by not having a process “P” in place, misunderstandings may occur.  It helps them understand the importance of working towards a common goal.  And it helps them understand the importance of transparent and effective communication “I”.

So when you are asked about teamwork, remember that a tight GRIP = a tight team and I will remember to thank Dr. Tichy for his wisdom and insight and for telling me to get a GRIP on my team.  Thank you Dr. Tichy.

Download our special report- Leadership in Admissions

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.