MBA Admissions News Roundup

  

  • Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business announced that David A. Thomas will become Georgetown McDonough’s new Dean and William R. Berkley Chair starting October 1, 2011. One can learn more about Dean Thomas by watching a video that has been posted on McDonough’s website.
  • Fortune.com’s interview with Ankur Kumar, Wharton’s deputy director of admissions, reveals the full story behind the rise in female enrollment at Wharton School of Business. Kumar explains how the school worked hard to get to the point where 45% of the incoming class is women. Kumar spearheaded many new initiatives in the past two years to attract more women to visit campus and convince them to apply.
  • The Financial Times describes how the Anderson School of Management at UCLA has restructured its curriculum to help students stay career focused and become experts in their fields of interest. The incoming class in September will have the flexibility to acquire skills early in the program that will allow them to contribute in their specialty even during their internships.
  • Businessweek announced that Blair Sheppard will be stepping down as the dean of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business on August 1st. Sheppard will remain at the school and work in the fundraising and business development department for Duke’s new campus in Kunshan, China.  Duke Kunshan University is expected to open in 2012.
  • Fortune.com looks at how China Europe International Business School’s new dean, John Quelch, wants to transform the Shanghai business school into one of the top 10-ranked, research-focused business schools. Quelch plans on changing CEIBS by focusing on what he calls the “Four F’s”: Faculty, fame, fortune and fun. Although he struggles with recruiting faculty, Quelch feels fortunate that the Chinese government has given CEIBS “tremendous scope and freedom when it comes to curriculum design and delivery.”

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mba-sample-essays-see-what-wi

 


UCLA Anderson 2012 MBA Application Questions, Tips.

The 2013 UCLA Anderson MBA tips are now available.  Click here to check them out!

This UCLA Anderson 2012 MBA Application tip post is one of a series of posts providing MBA application and essay advice for applicants to top MBA programs around the world. Check out the entire 2012 MBA Application Tips series for more valuable MBA essay advice. 

UCLA Anderson

UCLA Anderson 2012 MBA Essay Questions

GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS: Please be introspective and authentic in your responses. We value the opportunity to learn about your life experiences, aspirations and goals.

Required Essays:

1. What event or life experience has had the greatest influence in shaping your character and why? (750 words)

This question, in use for the second year, continues the Anderson tradition of starting with a non-professional question. This lead-off reveals the importance Anderson places on learning about you as a person. What motivates you? What has touched you?

Choose your greatest “Ah-ha!” moment. What happened? How has it influenced you? Why was it so important?  FYI, the answers to these least three questions in this order could be a great structure for your essay.

Please note that this question is not asking about your professional goals or your educational aspirations. It is asking about you and your character.

2. What are your short-term and long-term career goals, and how will an MBA from UCLA Anderson specifically help you achieve these goals? (750 words)

UCLA’s is a pretty straightforward MBA goals question. What are you professional goals? Why do you want an MBA now? How will UCLA Anderson’s program and strengths help you realize your goals? As always be specific and make sure you answer all elements of the question.

3. OPTIONAL: Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? Please use your best judgment. (250 words)

If there are extenuating circumstances that would add perspective on or “explain” a weakness, you can discuss them here.

A few years ago, UCLA added the following: “Please do not submit redundant information in the Optional Essay.” Good advice for all optional questions. For more suggestions, please see The Optional Question: To Be or not To Be.

4. Reapplicant Essay: Please describe your career progress since you last applied and ways in which you have enhanced your candidacy. Include updates on short-term and long-term career goals, as well as your continued interest in UCLA Anderson. (750 words maximum)

This the key question in every MBA reapplication: How have you enhanced your candidacy? Career progress is an obvious place to start and something you must address, but if academic were a weakness, then what have you done since you last applied that shows you can excel at Anderson? 

If you would like professional guidance with your UCLA Anderson MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our  UCLA Anderson Essay Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the Anderson MBA application.

UCLA Anderson 2012 MBA Application Deadlines

Round      Due Date               Notification
Round 1    October 26, 2011    January 25, 2012
Round 2    January 11, 20112  April 4, 2012
Round 3    April 18, 2012         June 6, 2012

Linda Abraham By , President and Founder of Accepted.com.

MBA Admissions News Round Up

  

  • UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, in honor of its 75th birthday, was awarded a $25 million gift from John E. and Marion Anderson, longtime supporters and namesakes of the Anderson School. The gift is the largest in the school’s history and brings the total gift amount from the Andersons to nearly $42 million. According to an Anderson Alumni Relations email, “This remarkable gift will enable us to chart that future by investing in research that advances management thinking and practice, curriculum initiatives that prepare our students to become global leaders, and student support that attracts the most talented candidates from around the world.”
  • In September 2011 University of Chicago Booth School of Business will begin increasing the scholarship support it gives to U.S. military veterans who are admitted for study on the school’s full-time MBA program. An article in The Financial Times, “Chicago Booth Increases MBA Scholarships to the ex-military,” explains how all veterans who are deemed eligible will receive $10,000 a year in scholarship support for the two-year degree, and the Department of Veterans Affairs will then match this funding with an additional $10,000. Associate dean for student recruitment and admissions, Kurt Ahlm, notes, “We are delighted to offer this additional support to veterans because they bring a unique depth and maturity to the MBA experience, enriching Chicago Booth and their classmates.” 
  • According to the The Wall Street Journal article, “Bringing Creativity into B-schools,” business schools are increasingly looking to the arts for inspiration in their classrooms.  Watching films, painting in class, and reading comic books, are some of the ways that professors encourage students to think creatively. This new direction has led to certain schools offering courses, concentrations and even specialized arts management MBAs for students looking for more artistic job opportunities. An example of such a program exists at the University of Manchester in northern England, where the business school and the School of Arts, Histories and Cultures collaborate on a two-year-old joint master’s degree in arts management. In addition, Cambridge’s Judge School has an MBA where students can concentrate in culture, arts and media management.
  • In the last four years, the number of business schools accepting the GRE General Test for MBA admissions has quadrupled. Educational Testing Service (ETS) announced that more than 500 MBA programs around the world now accept the GRE. Recent additions to the list include: the University of Missouri, Temple University, Case Western Reserve University, and the University of Oklahoma. In fact, the GRE General Test is now being accepted by 52 percent of the U.S. News & World Report top 100 U.S. MBA programs.  International additions include INSEAD, Central European University Business School, and Caucasus University.

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Top 20 EMBA Programs in North America

Top executive MBA programs in America are charging an arm and a leg —is it worth it? That’s the topic of a recent CNN Money Fortune/Poets & Quants article, “Executive MBAs: Great, if you can foot the bill,” which reports that if people are willing to pay the sky-high prices for an EMBA degree, they’ll likely graduate with a high paying salary and a positive attitude towards their educational experience.

Top programs, like those at Wharton, offer very similar curriculums to their regular MBA programs, yet are charging almost $65,000 more (for a total of more than $160,000). (Other top 10 EMBA programs charge slightly less, with Booth at $142,000, Kellogg at $153,900, and Columbia at $148,320.)

Studies show that 97% of EMBA graduates are “overwhelmingly satisfied” with their educations, despite the high tuition, and that the programs “met or exceeded their expectations when it comes to impact on their careers and their organizations.” According to the latest Executive MBA Council study, one-third of EMBA graduates received promotions at work; 44% received more responsibilities at work; and EMBAs in general reported an average 11.4% salary increase, from $127,955 to $142,534. And this is just following the great recession!

The article refers readers over to the new Poets & Quants for Executives website that ranks the 50 best executive MBA programs in North America based on a combination of ratings from The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, and U.S. News & World Report. You can view a summary of P&Q ranking methodology on the bottom of this page.

You should read the full Fortune/P&Q article and review the full rankings for more information. In the meantime, here are the top 20 EMBA programs according to the new Poets & Quants for Executives website:

Top 20 Executive MBA Programs in North America

1.      Wharton

2.      Chicago Booth

3.      Northwestern Kellogg

4.      Columbia Business School

5.      NYU Stern

6.      Michigan Ross

7.      UCLA Anderson

8.      Cornell Johnson

9.      Texas McCombs

10.  USC Marshall

11.  Duke Fuqua

12.  UNC Kenan-Flagler

13.  Berkeley/Columbia

14.  Washington Olin

15.  Emory Goizueta

16.  Boston University

17.  Georgetown McDonough

18.  Thunderbird

19.  Rice University Jones

20.  Southern Methodist Cox

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A Few of the Mostest at Accepted.com

This is the time of year to look back at the most, best, (worst), etc. I am going to stick to the positive.

Top Ten Most Visited Accepted Admissions Almanac Posts of 2010:

In a nutshell, rankings and application tip posts rule. (I am only listing the current tip post when last year’s tip post also made the list):

  1. Financial Times Global 2010 MBA Rankings
  2. Forbes ROI MBA Rankings for 2010
  3. Harvard HBS 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips
  4. INSEAD 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips
  5. NYU Stern 2011 MBA Application Questions, Tips, Deadlines
  6. Common Application Essay Tips
  7. Columbia 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips
  8. 2010 MBA Rankings Released by BusinessWeek
  9. Kellogg 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips
  10. London Business School 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips

Three Most Commented Accepted Admissions Almanac Posts of 2010

  1. Harvard HBS 2010 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips (269)
  2. INSEAD 2010 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips (246)
  3. INSEAD 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips (60)

Keep ‘em coming! (Please post your questions about this year’s applications on this year’s tips.)

Five Most Popular Articles on Accepted.com of 2010:

  1. Go for the Goals in your Statement of Purpose
  2. Tips for Writing Letters of Recommendation for Medical School
  3. 4 Must-Haves in Residency Personal Statements
  4. MBA Admissions: Low GMAT or GPA 
  5. Sample MBA Interview Questions

Most Popular Resources of 2010:

Our Absolute, Best, Most Superlative Asset: YOU, our readers, followers, fans, subscribers, and most of all, our clients.

On behalf of Accepted’s staff, this post is where I

Thank you, all of you Acceptees, for making 2010 our best year ever!

By Linda Abraham, President and Founder of Accepted.com.

MBA Admissions Consultants: Thoughts on thoughts

I have been thinking for several weeks that it is time for me to write a post about MBA admissions consulting. I have seen blog and forum posts heatedly discussing the pros and cons of admissions consulting and what makes a good consultant.  I admit to fairly strong opinions on the subject. While my objectivity may be questionable, I have been advising applicants for the last sixteen years and speak from deep, long experience.

The immediate trigger for my post is an excellent, thoughtful piece by UCLA Anderson’s Asst. Dean and Director of MBA Admissions & Financial Aid, Mae Jennifer Shores on the MBA Insider’s blog entitled “Thoughts on MBA Coaches and Consultants.” For your convenience I am going to excerpt main points and then provide my thoughts on her thoughts.

1. “On the plus side, there’s the general knowledge that consultants have of MBA programs.”

Completely agree. We have tremendous knowledge of the programs and the options out there. 

2. “On the downside, consultants can so finely tune your essays that your own personal voice is lost. Or, even worse, your essays may read like they were written by multiple authors.”

The downside is more of a risk when you show your essays to multiple amateurs — to your mom, your dad, your cousin who got an MBA two years ago from a school you are not applying to, your significant other, your friends on Facebook, and the list goes on and on. Consistently using one advisor/editor/mentor who has taken the time to get to know you, your goals, your reasons for wanting an MBA and who also has insight into the specific schools will help you sharpen your message and maintain your voice.

3. “While a consultant may seem like a quicker route to your MBA destination, he or she can be expensive and not without possible pitfalls. So, if you are to use a consultant, use him or her in an advisory capacity only – as a sounding board and someone with whom to discuss your thoughts and ideas.”

Yes a good MBA admissions consultant requires an investment. And it comes as no surprise to me when Forbes ROI rankings’ top 10 schools correlate closely to the schools our clients tend to apply to. Using an admissions consultant could enable your acceptance to a “better” school than you would gain acceptance to on your own. “Better” implies more professional opportunity, increased earnings, and an educational experience more to your liking. Just looking at dollars and cents, “better” potentially represents tens of thousands of dollars in your pocket during your career. Considering that your MBA can easily cost over $200K (including out-of-pocket and opportunity costs) and the potential benefits of using a consultant, the cost of an admissions consultants, as a client once told me, is a “rounding error.”

Furthermore, writers need editors. Professional writers have editors because their writing benefits from a knowledgeable, critical, objective eye. The same is true for non-professionals. In fact, it’s more true.

4. “All the resources you need to present the best application you can are readily available.” Mae Jennifer Shores then encourages applicants to take advantage of the many valuable online resources including school websites, mba.com, and student blogs as well as offline options like school visits, forums and receptions.

I completely agree that applicants need to take advantage of these resources and learn as much as possible about their target programs. We here at Accepted constantly encourage applicants to take advantage of school visit programs and to attend receptions and school-sponsored events. I personally have hosted hundreds of chats so that applicants can learn more about the schools. Accepted.com has dedicated pages to many of the top MBA programs. We are proud that www.accepted.com has become a major free information resource for MBA applicants.

However, there is a HUGE difference between information and mentorship. Information is static. Consulting is dynamic. Gathering data is a one-way street. Consulting is two-way. Information is for most, the crowd, the general. Advising is personal, individual, and specific to you and your target programs.

5. “At the end of the day, most MBA programs select the best applicants rather than the best applications.  Spend less time on “impression management” and more time on letting us get to know the true you.”

Accepted.com’s MBA experienced admissions consultants aim to help you do just that by guiding you to present the best of the true you.

By Linda Abraham, President and Founder of Accepted.com.

2010 AIGAC Conference in Boston

The Charles River Near MIT Sloan

I will run out of superlatives if I attempt to describe the 2010 AIGAC Conference in Boston. Suffice it say that it was extraordinarily illuminating.  MIT Sloan and Harvard Business School graciously and generously hosted the event, which was kicked off by MIT Sloan’s Dean David C. Schmittlein, who discussed the reasoning behind MIT Sloan’s portfolio of programs as well as the school’s three-fold focus on innovation, action learning, and knowledge creation. He was followed by multiple presentations about MIT Sloan, several panels with representatives from Columbia, NYU Stern, Michigan Ross, INSEAD, Tuck, Yale SOM, Haas, Kelley, UCLA Anderson, UVA Darden, and Duke Fuqua. The conference ended at HBS with a dynamic presentation and tour of the magnificent HBS campus. (Ok I’ll can the superlatives.)

Several impressions and take-aways for applicants from the different events and sessions:

MIT Sloan Panels:

From the MIT panels it is clear that MIT is looking for demonstrated success academically and professionally.  The latter translates into success or professional progression that is better than the norm for your peers. In terms of those fuzzy attributes and personal characteristics that schools talk about, Sloan wants to see drive; an ability to build relationships and influence others;  and the establishment, pursuit and achievement of goals.  A few details about the individual programs:

  1. 100% of the MFin grads have jobs this year, this program’s inaugural graduating class.
  2. The EMBA is a program for those in mid-management with a demonstrated record of success who either want to advance in their career or make a slight career change without leaving their job.  Neither sponsorship nor the GMAT is required. (the latter may be requested if MIT has questions about the applicant’s quant skills.)
  3. The LGO program focuses on managing the global production and distribution of goods and services. It is a joint, quant-heavy 24-month program between MIT Sloan and MIT’s School of Engineering. Participants earn both an MBA and an MS in Engineering.

MIT Sloan

We also heard two presentations by MIT Sloan professors. If you have any doubt that MIT Sloan is serious about innovation and global reach, abandon them. The creativity and global impact evident in just these two hours would force you to reshape your views.

Impressions from Conference Day 2 (Multiple presentations by various schools reps)

  • Schools and admissions committee members look at different elements when they evaluate an application.  Pay attention to the nuances.
  • Your informal and personally identifiable interactions with school admissions personnel are highly revealing. They COUNT! Arrogance at any point in time is a death knell for your application (and most relationships too.) Rudeness to a receptionist is a ding. What qualities impress positively? In your essays and interviews, reveal dignity, generosity of spirit, self-awareness, authenticity, and consideration of others. These qualities cannot be faked or “spun.”
  • Regarding financial aid, merit aid tends to go to the top X% based on academic stats. Generally, when evaluating fellowship essays, the readers do not refer to your application essays. Poor credit can prevent you from obtaining the loans necessary for you to attend the school of your dreams if merit aid and your resources don’t cover the tab; get your credit in order before you apply.
  • Regarding career development, the MBA employment picture improved throughout 2009-10. Read the employment reports for schools before you decide to apply and certainly before you decide to attend; you need to know school strengths as revealed in these reports. Understand the role of the career services staff (educating students about effective career planning and job search) and the limitations of that role. (They don’t create or find jobs for you.) Networking, which is about building relationships not the size of your contact list, is more important than ever. In order to build relationships, you must move beyond email.

Harvard Business School

Harvard Business SchoolBaker Library at HBS
At Harvard, we enjoyed an interactive two-hour presentation that was stimulating and engaging. To the extent it reflected the dynamism of the Harvard educational experience, I was extremely impressed.

This visit clarified for me that Harvard’s unparalleled brand is not just a matter of US News Rankings or smoke-and-mirrors branding.  At the same time, HBS is not for everyone, but like any top graduate program, it can be a fantastic experience for the right individuals.

Before the conference started my husband and I met with an acquaintance who is a professor at HBS. The professor was curious about my work, and I was curious about his. He asked me what I believe distinguishes Harvard students from the rest of the applicant pool. I thought for a moment and replied, “Leadership and impact.” He smiled, and the conversation moved on. Just before leaving, I asked him, “From your perspective as an HBS professor, what is a common quality shared by HBS students?” He replied, “I smiled when you answered my question because the students come from incredibly diverse backgrounds. However, if I have to identify a common thread, it would be leadership and impact.” If you are serious about attending Harvard Business School, make sure you demonstrate leadership and impact.

Reflections and Thank yous

Accepted.com staff at HBSAccepted Staff at Aldrich Hall (HBS). Standing: Robbie Walker, Tanis Kmetyk, Paul Bodine. Seated: Cindy Tokumitsu, Jennifer Bloom, Linda Abraham, Judy Gruen
It is our job as admissions consultants to help you choose the best target programs and show that you  belong at your chosen schools. The candor and graciousness shown by the hosting schools as well as by the presenting admissions directors will help Accepted’s staff do exactly that.

I am proud to report that Accepted’s staff was well represented at  the conference. In addition to myself, Jennifer Bloom, Paul Bodine, Judy Gruen, Tanis Kmetyk, Cindy Tokumitsu, and Robbie Walker attended.

Profound thanks to the hosts and presenters as well as to AIGAC, led by Graham Richmond of Clear Admit, and specifically to Maxx Duffy of Maxx Associates and Anna Ivey of Ivey Consulting who co-chaired the event. Thanks also to the sponsors: Veritas Prep, Clear Admit, Hult International Business School, Manhattan GMAT, MBA Podcaster, and Zoom Interviews

Learn More:  Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Choosing the One for You.

By Linda Abraham, President and Founder of Accepted.com.

UCLA Anderson 2011 MBA Application Questions, Tips.

UPDATE: The tips for the 2012 MBA UCLA Anderson application are now available online. Please post questions or comments to the new post.

This UCLA Anderson 2011 MBA Application tip post is one of a series of posts providing MBA application and essay advice for applicants to top MBA programs around the world. You can access the entire series at http://blog.accepted.com/acceptedcom_blog/tag/2011-mba-application-tips. My tips for answering UCLA Anderson’s essay questions are in red below.

UCLA Anderson 2011 MBA Essay Questions

GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS: Please be introspective and authentic in your responses. Content is more important than style of delivery. We value the opportunity to learn about your life experiences, aspirations, and goals.

First-time applicants — 2 required essays:

1. What event or life experience has had the greatest influence in shaping your character and why? (750 words)

Although this is  new question and new approach, it continues the Anderson tradition of starting with a non-professional question. This lead-off reveals the importance Anderson places on learning about you as a person. What motivates you? What has touched you?

Choose your greatest “Ah-ha!” moment. What happened? How has it shaped you? Why was it so influential?  FYI, the answers to these least three questions in this order could be a great structure for your essay.

Please note that this question is not asking about your professional goals or your educational aspirations. It is asking about you and your character.

2. Describe your short-term and long-term career goals. What is your motivation for pursuing an MBA now and how will UCLA Anderson help you to achieve your goals? (750 words)

UCLA’s is a pretty straightforward MBA goals question. What are you professional goals? Why do you want an MBA now? How will UCLA Anderson’s program and strengths help you realize your goals? As always be specific and make sure you answer all elements of the question.

3. OPTIONAL: You may respond to the following question via written essay, audio or video clip: What is something people will find surprising about you?

Anderson is one of the first top MBA programs to encourage audio/video responses in an MBA application. If you are comfortable with these media, take advantage of your creative talents. If not, use the good ol’ written word.

Although this question is optional, responding to it means you have one more chance to present a different facet of your qualifications and experience to the Anderson’s admissions committee. I strongly encourage you to write it, speak it, or film it. Whatever you prefer.

You may want to listen to a few audio clips that caught the adcom’s fancy in the past. Click on “Audio Animations” at http://www.anderson.ucla.edu/x24219.xml . For these clips, the video was produced by UCLA film students, but the audio was the work of Anderson applicants.

4. OPTIONAL: Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? (250 words)

If there are extenuating circumstances that would add perspective or “explain” a weakness, you can discuss them here.

Three years ago, UCLA added the following: “Please do not submit redundant information in the Optional Essay.” Good advice for all optional questions. For more suggestions, please see The Optional Question: To Be or not To Be.

If you would like help with UCLA’s essays, please consider Accepted.com’s UCLA Anderson Essay Packages or our other MBA admissions consulting and editing services.

Additional Resources:

By Linda Abraham, President and Founder of Accepted.com.

Part IV: The Do’s and Dont’s of Audio and Video–Application Style

Let’s get Technical . . . with Audio.

As your story is the most compelling part of your audio clip, there’s no need to sweat the technical stuff.  Several inexpensive, user-friendly recording options are probably sitting right in front of you, on your computer.

For Mac users, the podcast recorder in GarageBand is your best bet.  Record your voice using the computer’s internal speakers (works best on a laptop) or a Skype-type USB headset.  The program helps you export the final product to iTunes in .mp3 format–which is easily uploadable to various school sites. Here’s a basic tutorial, and an intermediate version (starting at 1.30 the instructor offers tips on how to edit within the tracks.)

For PC users, Sound Recorder is the built-in Windows audio tool, but it’s not user friendly. There are numerous other Windows-oriented editing programs you can buy and download, but I recommend Audacity. It’s free and relatively easy to use.  Check out this podcast tutorial.  (It’s a bit hard to see on a laptop, but if you hit command and the “+” sign you can enlarge the screen.)  Also, on PC’s you have to use a Skype-type USB headset as your microphone. Otherwise you’ll need to purchase an external microphone that you plug into your computer.

For external audio recorders, I recommend using equipment like a Zoom or an Olympus LS-11. But there is really no need.  Sure, if sailing is one of the most important activities in your life, it might be cool to add the sound of the waves and the seagulls to your audio mix.  But if all you’ve got is a hand recorder, it will most likely sound scratchy unless you’ve got a really good mic.  Basically, if you don’t have prior experience recording and mixing audio, I suggest you stick to narrating your story into a computer.  Production will be much easier and still sound great. 

Here are the Top Five Tips for your audio recording:

1) Write as you speak: As you’re writing, speak aloud so that you use language you would normally use for speaking, rather than for writing.

2) Use headphones: When you do record your audio, make sure to use headphones so that you know what you sound like.  But don’t just trust what you hear. Sometimes there are different controls for how loud the microphone is picking up your voice, and for your headphone volume. Recording programs and devices should have a visual indicator for your voice level. 

In Garageband, it looks like this in the editing window when you play back what you’ve recorded:

GOOD

See how the bars are green, a little more than midway into the window? This is a good level.
 
BAD

In this example, my voice is too loud.  This is called peaking and your voice will sound tinny. This means you are too close to your microphone. Move back, or speak more softly so that your voice is in the “GOOD” range.

BAD

In this example, my voice is too low.  I either need to speak up, or move closer to the mic.

3. Practice, and do a test export. Before you record, practice saying your script aloud at least 5 times.  Print it out so that you can underline words you want to emphasize.  You should also time yourself, to make sure that you are staying within the allotted limit. Also, record a short 10 second snippet and practice exporting it into the school’s acceptable format.

4.  Think like your audience. The admissions committee is going to be listening to hundreds, maybe thousands of these clips.  Most people will probably use Garageband–so if you choose to jazz up your piece with one of the audio jingles they provide–most likely someone else will too, and you will sound less unique!  What is going to make you stand out the most is your story.  So again, and I can’t emphasize this enough–unless adding extra music or sound is part of YOUR story–DON’T add it in!

5. Record in front of another person, and smile.
  This will help you to visualize your audience, and help you sound more like you are telling a story, rather than just reading off a page. By smiling, you will automatically boost your energy, and sound more interesting as you speak.

Stay tuned for the final Part V of the series: Let’s Get Technical . . . with Video.

By Michelle Stockman, who worked in the Columbia Business School admissions office, has a Masters in Journalism from Columbia, and has assisted Accepted.com clients applying to top business schools since 2007. When not advising Accepted’s clients, she is a multimedia producer with works published by Agence France Presse, Economist.com, WSJ.com, the Times of India, and Hindustan Times. She is happy to help you with your application.


Part III: The Do’s and Dont’s of Audio and Video–Application Style

Content is King (or Queen)! . . . for Video

You’re no Kathryn Bigelow, ladies.  And you’re no James Cameron, gentlemen. It’s their job to push boundaries with the armies of cinematographers and CGI artists at their command.  When you’re brainstorming your application video clip, forget all the slick effects–unless that’s part of your prior training. Keep it simple and focus on the story.

Before you even start brainstorming content, make sure you’ve got the technical gear to make it happen. This will dictate what kind of story you can tell, and save headaches down the road.

Follow these two steps before you choose video:

1.  Gather your equipment.  You’ll need a camcorder, a tape or memory card, a firewire that will transfer the footage to your computer, and a computer editing program.

2.  30-second test shoot. Film anything for thirty seconds. Then practice transferring the footage into your editing program.  Export the clip into a format the school will allow you to upload to their website. If you can get all that done, you’re ready to do video. Otherwise, just stick to audio.

As I mentioned in Part II of this series, make a list and then outline your clip.

Take a look at the sample video outline below. Let’s say that you choose to write about a personal hobby that makes you unique, like working as an electronic music DJ.  I find it easiest to plan out a video clip in seconds.  These times are approximate, but should give you a rough estimate of how to structure the video.

0 – 10 sec: Write a 10 sec. introduction that you would say directly to the camera.
Introduce where you are, why you are there, and why the activity is important to you.

10 – 25 sec: Write a 15 sec. narration. You will record this over a series of images that show an action in progression. 

For example, as you explain how you learned to be a DJ, you could show images of yourself setting up your equipment, turning on the speakers and turntable, a close-up of you grooving with your headphones on, then a shot of a crowd dancing below you.

30 – 40 sec:
  Directly address the camera again.  Use this as a transition to state how you have used this hobby to enrich the lives of others. If you change locations, you can film yourself walking into the new place.

40 – 55 sec:  Write another 15 sec. narration. You will record this over a series of images that show an action in progression. 

In this DJ example, you could explain what you learned about leadership through sharing this hobby with others. Let’s say that you started an after-school DJ class for disadvantaged kids. You could show images of yourself entering the school, talking to the class, then advising them at the turntable.

55 – 60 sec:  Directly address the camera one more time. You can end on an image of you talking to the camera while the kids are grooving in the background. State why you love to be a DJ.

As you can see, you must be concise when writing for video.  Use simple language and get right to the point!  Above all, show a process so that you’re giving the ad comm a visual story to follow.

Stay tuned for Part IV in the series: Let’s Get Technical . . . with Audio.?

By Michelle Stockman, who worked in the Columbia Business School admissions office, has a Masters in Journalism from Columbia, and has assisted Accepted.com clients applying to top business schools since 2007. When not advising Accepted’s clients, she is a multimedia producer with works published by Agence France Presse, Economist.com, WSJ.com, the Times of India, and Hindustan Times. She is happy to help you with your application.