Selling Yourself Short?

Get advice for writing exemplary personal statements.

Don’t sell yourself short!

“I founded a small candy company.”  I could see in the faces of my fellow admissions committee members that they were not that impressed with the candidate; none of them had ever heard of “Del Sol Candy,”* and Roberto’s modest description did not make it sound all that impressive an accomplishment.

Many times while interviewing international MBA candidates, I have found that some of them sell themselves short, particularly with regards to their work experience. Whether it is because of culture or family upbringing, there is a certain type of candidate who finds it hard to present his or her own professional accomplishments in the best light.

This contrasts dramatically with what is expected from MBA applicants; committee members expect candidates to present their best case and promote their accomplishments. This mismatch between the candidate’s culture and the committee’s expectations can sometimes harm the candidate’s chances of admission. A second layer of complexity also arises for some international students: if an American applicant mentions that he or she is a regional manager at Hershey’s, for example, the adcom would have at least an idea of the size of the operation, the level of responsibility, and the selectiveness of the company. If, on the other hand, you come from abroad and your company is not well known in the U.S., the adcom may have a harder time evaluating your work experience.

Just by chance, I had been to Roberto’s home city the previous year on a recruitment trip, and I happened to know that the company he had started from scratch was not only the biggest candy maker in the country, but that it exported millions of dollars’ worth of goods to international markets as far away as the Middle East. During the interview I asked him a couple of probing questions about it, and once he started talking about specifics (sales figures, market share, etc.) he became more comfortable. More importantly, the committee was able to assess the magnitude of his accomplishments.

If you, like Roberto, feel hesitant to promote your achievements for fear of sounding boastful, you need to be aware of those emotions and make a determined effort to overcome that tendency. It is up to you, the candidate, to provide the school with enough information to evaluate your accomplishments.

A good way to overcome any qualms regarding self-promotion is to be ready to provide the adcom with hard data that will document what you have done. If at all possible, do research and be prepared to provide them with a benchmark, a point of comparison with an American company, or at least some details of the level of the operation, but most importantly, the size of your responsibilities. By preparing yourself with facts, you will dramatically improve your chances of admission and, later on, your employability prospects for internship and beyond.

Learn how to use sample essays to create an exemplary essay of your own!

Esmeralda CardenalBy Esmeralda Cardenal, previously the Associate Director of Admissions at Yale SOM, Director of MBA Admissions at MSU Broad, and consultant at Cardiff Business School in the UK. She is happy to help you showcase your achievements in your MBA application.

Related Resources:

• The Quick Guide to Admissions Resumes
• 4 Application Strategy Tips: Stand Out AND Fit In
• 4 Ways to Show How You’ll Contribute in the Future

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

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

Making International Student Loans a Prime Investment

Listen to the full recording of our conversation with Cameron Stevens.B-school students need funding, MBA alumni are looking to invest. Prodigy Finance brings the two together.

Listen to the full recording of our conversation with Cameron Stevens, founder and CEO of the company that provides loans to international students and a secure and meaningful investment opportunity for business school graduates.

00:01:30 – Cameron Stevens and the wonderful story of Prodigy Finance.

00:06:05 – An overview of how Prodigy Finance works for investors and student borrowers.

00:11:02 – The difference between Prodigy Finance and the bank.

00:17:52 – Who is eligible for these student loans?

00:21:03 – How the loan application process works. (And the story of Linda’s embarrassing first version of Accepted.com.)

00:26:46 – Where the funding comes from.

00:30:26 – Cameron’s INSEAD experience and the value of an MBA in launching and running a business.

00:42:34 – On the roadmap: job search help.

00:44:16 – Fit and goals: two tips for b-school applicants.

Listen to the full conversation to learn more!*Theme music is courtesy of podcastthemes.com.

Related Links:

Prodigy Finance
INSEAD 2014-2015 MBA Essay Tips
• INSEAD B-School Zone

Related Shows:

• An Inside Look at INSEAD
• SoFi: Alumni Funded Student Loans
• CommonBond’s Story: A Revolution in Student Loans
• Financial Aid & Health Insurance for International Students

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Learn How to Choose the Best MBA Program for You!

10 Facts About International College Students

Click here for must-know info and advice for students abroad!

Enrollment of international students at U.S. colleges has reached a record high.

In the last academic year (2013-2014), enrollment of international students at U.S. colleges increased 8% to a record high of 86,052. Here are some highlights from a recent article by The Chronicle of Higher Education:

1.  One-third of the foreign students in 2013-2014 came from China, accounting for nearly 60% of the growth of the foreign student population at American colleges.

2.  The Chinese student demographic in the U.S. has gotten younger. Ten years ago, more than 80% of Chinese students were in graduate school, whereas now the split is closer to 50-50 between undergrad and grad students.

3.  There has even been growth among Chinese high school students studying in the U.S. (about 23,500 students). This means that in the future, a) U.S. colleges will be able to recruit Chinese students from U.S. soil, and b) Chinese college students will have an easier time adjusting culturally and academically to college life in the U.S.

4.   Possible reason for increase in growth of Chinese student population: dissatisfaction with the Chinese school system.

5.   The second largest source of international college students in the U.S. is India, with foreign student volume up 6%.

6.  Possible reason for increase in growth of Indian student population: a stronger rupee, making overseas study more affordable. Many of the Indian students attending university in the U.S. were recruited from other countries where Indian families work or study.

7.   The countries with the largest percentage growth in foreign students were Kuwait (43%), Brazil (22%), and Saudi Arabia (21%), all three of which have large government-sponsored scholarship programs in place to send students abroad (and pay in full for their studies). This makes them very attractive to American universities.

8.   Most of the Saudi and Kuwaiti students who study abroad go to the U.S. (86% and 68% respectively), compared to just under 50% of Brazilians.

9.   More than 10% of student visa holders in the U.S. are on the Optional Practical Training program (OPT) which allows students in the STEM fields to stay and work in the U.S. for up to 29 months after completing their studies.

10.   In terms of American students studying abroad, those numbers are barely moving. In 2012-2013, the number of students who went abroad went up just 2%, with an increase in the number of non-white students and an increase in those students studying in STEM fields.

For more details, see The Chronicle of Higher Education article, as well as the Wall Street Journal article on the same subject.

International_Students_Tips

Accepted.com

 

Related Resources:

College Admissions 101
5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your College Application
• School-Specific Common Application Supplemental Essay Tips

Admissions Offers to International Grad Students Increase 9% Since 2013

Will you be studying abroad? Click here for some important information!

9% increase in grad school offers to international students

For the fourth year in a row, the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) reported a 9% increase in graduate school offers to international students. Here are some highlights from the recent report (Findings from the 2014 CGS International Graduate Admissions Survey, Phase II: Final Applications and Initial Offers of Admission):

• There were fewer applications submitted by Chinese applicants in 2014 than in 2013, and no increase in acceptances, ending an eight-year streak of growth. Even with this decrease, Chinese students still make up the largest group of international representatives at U.S. graduate schools, at 37%.

• In India, there was an increase in the number of applications sent to U.S. graduate schools, and a 25% increase in initial admission offers. This follows a 27% increase the year before (2013).

• There was also an increase in offers to prospective students in Brazil (a 98% increase this year, after a 46% increase in 2013). Brazilian students still only make up 1% of the total number of offers to international students, even with this huge increase.

• Other regions with growth in offers of graduate school admission over the last year include Europe (2%), Africa (3%), Canada (4%), and the Middle East (9).

• Regions that experienced declines in offers include Mexico (-1%), Taiwan (-6%), and South Korea (-9%).

• The fields of study that saw the largest increase in initial offers of admission in 2014 were physical/earth sciences (13%), engineering (11%), “other” (7%), business (6%), social sciences/psychology (6%), life sciences (6%), arts/humanities (5%), and education (1%).

• Prospective international students received an increase in offers of admission in the following regions of the U.S. (from 2013-2014): the Midwest (12%), the West (9%), the South (9%), and the Northeast (8%).

According to Suzanne Ortega, CGS President, “American graduate schools continue to attract students from around the world. We should be excited about the fact that new growth is emerging from a host of different regions and nations. International students are important to the U.S. economy because our workforce will continue to face shortages of graduate-level talent over the next decade. To support our economic competitiveness, we should make it easier – for international graduates who wish to do so – to remain and work in the U.S. after completing their degrees.”

Click here for must-know info & advice for international students!

Accepted.com

 

Related Resources:

• Delivering STAR in an American Context
Get Your Game On, Prepping for Your Grad School Application 
Grad School Admissions 101