Introducing GMAC’s New Reflect Self-Assessment Tool

Reflect Self-Assessment Tool


GMAC has just launched a self-assessment and development tool called Reflect™. The online program will help MBA applicants and MBA graduates discover and strengthen their professional and personal strengths, measure soft skills, identify and improve weaknesses, and create an action plan to help boost job performance. The tool will help put incoming students on the right path to find and then advance in their ideal careers.

John Byrne from Poets & Quants offers a thorough review of Reflect. He explains how the assessment works – 574 questions, some of them “rather silly or frivolous” (you can see his examples on his post), to be completed and then analyzed by the program. The user than receives grades in 10 different competencies. Bryne likens Reflect to the Myers-Briggs test, but instead of focusing on psychological preferences focuses on soft skills solutions. Applicants can use the tool to showcase their leadership qualities to graduate school adcoms, while graduates can gain a new way to present themselves to corporate recruiters.

One benefit of Reflect (compared to other assessment programs) is that the tool can be used effectively without a coach or facilitator – all you need is a computer.

Once you receive your scores, you’ll also gain access to 200 learning resources to help you develop a customized work plan, 300 tips, and guidance on career benchmarking in various job functions.

The Reflect tool costs $99.99.

See GMAC’s Reflect™ Self-Assessment and Development Tool for more details. ~ Helping You Write Your Best

Busting Two MBA Myths


“Assess your needs.”

Thanks to those of you who stopped at’s table at the Los Angeles MBA Tour event a couple of weeks ago and shared your thoughts, doubts, questions, and experiences. I enjoyed meeting you.

I was bothered, however, by a certain refrain I heard a few times during the evening. Basically two related MBA myths that deserve busting:

Myth #1: Once you attend an MBA program outside the Top 10, it doesn’t matter which school you attend, so you may as well go to the cheapest one you get into.

Myth #2: It doesn’t pay to get an MBA outside the M7/Top 10.

When asked my opinion of these MBA memes, I politely explained why I thought they are utter nonsense, the product of lazy minds. Nothing more. The reality is much more complex.

Schools inside and outside the Top 10 vary in terms of their approach to management education and their strengths. Some schools outside the Top X may be excellent for a given specialty. For example, Smeal and Broad are generally not in any overall Top 10 ranking. However, both programs are very well regarded for supply chain management and logistics. They may be excellent choices if that’s your interest. Babson is renowned for teaching entrepreneurship; it is usually in the bottom half of the top 50 overall. Similarly Thunderbird is excellent for international business. For those specialties, these schools may be better programs than programs ranked overall in the Top 10.

Obviously there are a lot more schools outside the top 10 than in it, and the differences among all the schools are many. Applicants need to understand those differences and seek schools with the curricular, extra-curricular, and career management strengths to help them achieve their goals. Then applicants can compare costs and anticipated return. If applicants choose a school based on Myth #1 and without the analysis I suggest, applicants are simply basing a major investment in time and money on folklore.

Whether it pays to get an MBA at School X, regardless of that school being in the Top 10, Top 20, or Top 50, depends on both the school and on you. Here are a few questions that you need to answer:

  1. How much are you making currently? (That will determine your opportunity cost if you are considering a full-time program.)
  2. What is the typical salary of MBA grads from your target program who found a job in your area of interest? (School averages are much less worthwhile.)
  3. Is there a non-financial benefit that you seek in addition to classic financial ROI? (Moving into a job you will enjoy, for example.)

While it is true that average salaries at different schools tend to decline as you go down the rankings, for the overwhelming majority of MBAs, ROI is positive and MBA alumni satisfaction per GMAC surveys is overwhelmingly high despite two recessions in the last ten years. And that data includes survey responses from non-Top 10 schools.

Don’t trust myths about rankings to determine where you invest your time and money. Don’t rely on fable and fantasy to make a major life decision. Do your homework, as the applicants at The MBA Tour were doing. Learn about the schools; don’t focus on their rankings.

Assess your needs. Determine your investment including opportunity cost. Evaluate probable return – both financial and non-financial – at schools that meet your needs.

Then, and only then, decide whether your MBA is worth the cost and which ones are right for you.

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.

Job Opportunities Increase for B-School Students

MBA Jobs

“Things are looking good!”

We recently posted an article on the current job market for 2012 business degree holders (see “Job Market Looking Good for Class of 2012 Business Grads”). Now we’ll offer some related information from a Poets & Quants article on a report released by the MBA Career Services Council on February 4th. Here are some highlights from the P&Q post:

  • In 2012, 45% of b-schools reported a boost in on-campus activity for full-time jobs. (That’s following a 70% increase in 2011.)
  • Last year, 58% of programs reported an increase in full-time job postings (on top of a 68% increase the year before).
  • 45% of schools also reported an increase in on-campus recruiting (the same as last year), compared to 15% that experienced an on-campus recruiting decrease.
  • For schools ranked in the top 20, 47% of programs reported an increase in on-campus, full-time opportunities; 13% reported a decline.
  • Among those schools ranked from 21st to 50th place, 40% reported increases and 20% reported decreases.
  • 60% of b-schools ranked 51st to 100th reported increases while 15% reported a decrease.
  • 30% of schools reported job increases in the following industries: consulting, consumer products, energy, financial services, healthcare products/pharmaceuticals/biotech, real estate, and technology.
  • 50% of b-schools reported an increase in on-campus internship recruiting.
  • 53% saw increases in internship job postings.
  • For internships, the industries with the largest increases were the technology and consulting industries.

Notice that a school’s ranking bears little to no bearing on its increases in job offers.

Things are looking good! ~ Helping You Write Your Best


Job Market Looking Good for Class of 2012 Business Grads

According to a recent GMAC press release, the job market is strong for 2012 business and management graduates. The report states that 92% of grads surveyed were employed within three months of graduating; in 2011, that percentage was 86%. GMAC surveyed 834 members of the class of 2012 among the 4,444 MBA and graduate business alumni who participated in the survey.

Here are some more highlights from the press release:

  • 77% of class of 2012 grads said that their starting salaries met or exceeded their expectations.
  • 76% of grads said they wouldn’t have been able to secure their jobs without their management/business degree.
  • Median salary for full-time two-year MBA grads was $85,000 last year; for full-time one-year MBA grads, that number was considerably less at $59,000.
  • Self-employment rates ranged depending on where grads operated their businesses. In the Middle East and Africa, that rate was at 20%, while in the U.S. it hit only 5%. Self-employment rates in Latin America were 13%, in Europe 11%, and 6% in Asia/Pacific Islands.
  • 95% of alumni value their business/management education as good to outstanding.

GMAC Alumni SurveyThe GMAC Alumni Survey certainly provides encouragement to those seeking a graduate management degree because of the incredibly high degree of alumni satisfaction combined with improving employment rates, but one should also note that there are other factors that improve salaries upon graduation:

  1. 2012 grads with at least three years of work experience at matriculation earned $25,000 more on average at graduation than those with less experience.
  2. Alumni who had an internship during their program saw an average $21,995 increase in salary at graduation compared to those who didn’t have an internship.

Take-aways for MBA Applicants from the GMAC Alumni Survey

  1. Reports of the MBA’s near-term demise are overblown. That doesn’t mean that inexorably rising tuition and fairly flat salaries will have no impact. If these trends continue, they definitely will. In fact, they are probably pushing the schools to experiment more with accelerated programs, as Kellogg is doing, and to offer more specialized, one-year masters degrees, as many programs are doing. However, in the short-term the threat to the traditional two-year, full-time MBA comes from alternatives not from lack of satisfaction with the degree or poor employment prospects.
  2. Early career applicants are going to find increasing difficulty making a case for themselves when applying. Employment is a big driver of admissions decisions. And average salaries are a major factor in school reputation and several rankings. If less experienced applicants don’t command similar salaries, two-year programs are going to prefer more experienced applicants.
  3. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You need to arrive on campus with a clear idea of what you want from your MBA. Then you’ll know which internships to aim for. Internship recruiting starts within weeks of schools opening, and you want to be ready. Landing a great internship can put you ahead when you seek your full-time job and pay off big time as you can see from #2 above. If you flounder due to lack of focus and direction, you reduce the likelihood of getting an internship at all, which can shrink the value of your entire MBA experience. Let your MBA goals guide you.

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.


The Importance of Being Employable

Good Goals

“Start with the end in mind.”

Being “employable” won’t just earn you a good job, but may also help you secure a seat in a top business school. A recent Wall Street Journal article talks about the increased emphasis b-school admissions boards are placing on job placement. In an uncertain job market, schools want to show that they can place their students in prime positions; the best way to do this, of course, is to admit highly employable applicants.

Admissions boards are inviting career services staff to weigh in on admissions decisions. In addition to matching up potential students with industry needs, career services representatives are also evaluating leadership potential and interview capabilities. In a way, by having the career services staff on the admissions board, adcoms learn to evaluate applicants as corporate recruiters might – they look for applicants who will have “the same traits a hiring manager might, such as the ability to assess a problem and self-edit their remarks.” Additionally, this “integrated” admissions approach helps the students set out on a clear career path early on in the game.


I’ve said it for years, and it is the premise of my book, MBA Admission for Smarties: Realistic, attainable professional goals are a must when you apply to business school. You need them to guide you in choosing schools and to show “fit.” You need them to hit the ground running and to dodge the flood of activities and internship recruiting when you arrive on campus.  And not surprisingly, you need them more and more simply to get in, just like the GMAT (or GRE) and an undergraduate transcript.

Too many applicants try to shoe-horn or manufacture a goal based on what they imagine the schools will want to hear. That’s backwards. Figure out first what you want to do post-MBA. Then research the schools that will help you do it.

Good goals are the foundation of employability, but there clearly is much more to it than one’s aspirations, as the article points out. EQ, leadership, communication, and a host of personal qualities are also critical to employability. Make sure you show them not only in your essays, but in all interactions with school representatives.

Obviously an appropriate goal and even employability are not sufficient to guarantee acceptance; you also need to be competitive. But by starting with the end in mind and showing that you, with your professional experience, academic credentials and personal qualities PLUS the MBA experience at Top Choice U are employable, you are enhancing your chances of acceptance and of that plum position upon graduation.

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.