Three Ways to Boost Your MBA Application

Check our MBA Admissions Resources! The MBA Tour recently swung through Los Angeles, and Linda Abraham and I were delighted to have a table there. We enjoyed meeting dozens of impressive and enthusiastic prospective MBA applicants, and thank the organizers for this great event – nearly 500 people registered and most attendees stayed all day. Clearly, applicants were soaking up information offered not only by the MBA programs represented, but also by consultants like us.

Frankly, we were amazed at the long lines of attendees waiting patiently to speak to us. We had offered brief, complimentary evaluations of resumes and MBA profiles, and we were swamped for more than five hours!

I found three issues came up repeatedly with the applicants we met:

1. How to present yourself to best advantage if you are a career-changer.
2. How to maximize the impact of your resume.
3. How to handle a low GPA and GMAT/GRE scores.

If your career change is major — say, from banking to entrepreneurship, or from engineering to new product development, be prepared to show the admissions committee the skills and knowledge you already have that are both valuable and transferable to your new field and function. Many people had not considered how important relevance is. If your new field and hoped-for job title demands sophistication in salesmanship and leadership, but you don’t have that in your professional background, how can you show you have these abilities or are working to get them? You might have some of those skills through experience with a community organization or other extracurricular activity. If not, join a group or take a class now that will help you build those strengths. B-schools will want to see that you have given thought to how you can transfer skills to your new field, and they will want to see that you understand what new skills and knowledge you will need. After all, you can’t learn absolutely everything you will need from B-school.

I also saw many weak resumes that did not do justice to the applicants’ true abilities. A very common pitfall was “generic-itis” – boring, non-specific bullet point items like this: “Led groups to align department goals and reach benchmarks.” Okay, I probably didn’t see one that awful, but I saw too many lines that were perilously close. Remember that adcom members will only look at your resume for about a minute or less on first glance. Bore them and they won’t even look that long.

How to cure generic-itis in resumes? Easy! Focus on and quantify achievements as much as possible: “Led group of 5 in weekly department meetings as part of campaign to increase sales by 10 percent; sales rose by 8 percent within 3 months.” See the difference? Specifics can include how many people you mentored or led, and how much sales grew in actual dollars or by a percentage. Did your company or department enjoy improved efficiencies, fewer customer complaints, a boost in re-orders? Quantify these achievements wherever possible and show what role you played in those achievements. And if you need to save space, use fewer bullet points to make room for more substantial and more specific achievements.

Here’s another way to strut your stuff in your resume: make sure to include any performance-linked bonus or fast-track promotion you earned. I was surprised to discover many people I spoke to had earned one or both of these professional recognitions, but hadn’t thought to include them on their resumes. This sort of information is resume gold! It presents the perfect marriage of quantified, concrete achievement and impressive career growth. For example: “Signed 4 new accounts worth $500,000, leading to promotion to Associate Product Development Manager.”

Finally, people who have low quant scores for their target schools have options to try to overcome this weakness. If you’re in this situation, you can retake the test – the best option if you think you can raise the score. Sometimes, people are just not good test-takers but are fully capable of b-school quant work; if that’s you, you still have to prove it in your applications. One way is to have A’s in courses such as economics, accounting or statistics for business. If your quant GPA is considerably lower than it should be for your target schools, take at least two of these courses before b-school starts, and note in your applications when and where you are enrolled for these courses if you haven’t completed them yet. You need to earn A’s in these classes.

Alternatively, you may already be able to prove your quant skills through quant-heavy work you are performing professionally. Highlight the quant demands of your job in your resume and job descriptions, and encourage your recommenders to write about your abilities in this area too.

The MBA applicants who stopped by our table were very appreciative of our advice and input. I hope you find this recap equally valuable. If you have questions, please post in a comment below.

Prepare for the next MBA Fair with our free special report- MBA Fairs: Advancing Your MBA Ambitions."

Judy Gruen By , MBA admissions consultant since 1996 and author (with Linda Abraham) of MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business SchoolsJudy advised applicants at The MBA Tour and would love to guide you to acceptance at your dream schools.

Upcoming MBA Tour Events in the U.S.

MBA Fairs Special ReportMBA events and receptions are excellent opportunities for those of you who don’t live close to your target schools to learn more about the programs, interact with school representatives — admission committee members, current students, and/or recent alumni — and get answers to your burning questions. Attending The MBA Tour near you should be a necessary part of the school research that is so vital to a successful MBA application effort.

MBA applicants – mark your calendars! The MBA Tour will be hosting MBA fairs on the following dates:

Thursday, July 18, 2013 – Chicago

Saturday, July 20, 2013 – New York

Monday, July 22, 2013 – Boston

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 – Washington, D.C.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 – Atlanta

Saturday, July 27, 2013 – San Francisco

Sunday, July 28, 2013 – Los Angeles

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 – Houston

Register here.

Important note for fair attendees in Los Angeles: Linda Abraham, founder & CEO will be at the LA MBA Tour event. Take this opportunity to talk to Linda and become eligible to win one of five copies of MBA Admission for Smarties.

Not in the U.S.? Don’t worry. The MBA Tour goes around the world.

Come to the fair prepared! Read our special report, MBA Fairs: Advancing Your MBA Ambitions, for FREE pre-fair preparation tips and advice on how to make the most of an MBA fair!

Upcoming MBA Tour Fairs

MBA Tour Fairs

“Take advantage.”

The MBA Tour will be hosting day-long MBA fairs next month in the following cities:

Monday, Feb. 4 Los Angeles
Thursday, Feb. 7 San Francisco
Saturday, Feb. 9 New York
Monday, Feb. 11 Washington, D.C.


Participating b-schools include IE, UCLA Anderson, Washington Olin, IESE, and many others.

For the above four events, the MBA Tour will be hosting an Attendee Tweet Giveaway during which participants will earn entries into a drawing by tweeting about their MBA Tour experience. Four lucky winners will win the indispensable MBA book, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools, written by Accepted’s own Linda Abraham and Judy Gruen.

Why should you attend an MBA fair? To apply successfully to business school, you need to know as much as possible about each of your potential programs and the opportunities they provide for people with your background, skills, and interests. This is known as the “fit factor,” and once you’ve determined what’s important to you, you’ll do a better job choosing programs, writing your essays, interviewing, and demonstrating fit throughout your application.

Make sure you take advantage of the MBA Tour’s FREE event near you and register today! ~ Helping You Write Your Best

How to Make the Most of MBA Fairs

MBA Fairs Special ReportThe MBA Tour will reach the four corners of the globe in the upcoming months, having separate tours in Asia and India in September, the Middle East and Istanbul in October, and Canada in November. The tour events provide you with great opportunities to meet with school representatives and learn more about the schools.  However, fairs also can devolve into mind-numbing circuits of big, crowded halls where you collect shiny brochures that will gather dust and nothing more.

How can you ensure that those few hours are beneficial?

I recently had the opportunity to interview Peter von Loesecke, CEO and Managing Director of The MBA Tour LLC, and am sharing inside tips Peter revealed for making the most of your MBA Fair experience.

  • How should applicants prepare for a fair so that they can get the most out of the event?

Applicants attending MBA Tour events should prepare themselves by researching MBA programs, by thinking about their career interests and goals, and by knowing how an MBA helps them achieve those goals and interests. Career interests may be described as something that rounds out an applicant’s education or satisfies a personal goal like improving leadership skills.

  • What are reasonable goals for spending a few hours at an MBA fair?

A reasonable goal for anyone attending an event is to make a lasting impression so that the representative will remember you.  My suggestion is to have your resume available and I recommend wearing business attire. Business casual is ok,  but most serious students, especially those outside the US, attend in business attire.  Make sure you ask questions that pertain to your personal situation and goals and avoid asking questions that can be answered off the school’s internet site.

  • What should applicants do while at the fair to get the most out of it?

Expand your horizons. Everyone comes to our events with first impressions of programs and where they want to go to school. Don’t let those first impressions influence who you speak with. Try and visit with as many schools as you can and have your visit recorded. That way a program has a record of your interest.

  • How much time should an applicant try to grab with a school representative at a fair?

Perhaps 3 to 5 minutes with each representative present. Schools reps local to the city in which the event is being held are usually very busy. Schools from out of town will have more time to spend with you. Use that availability to make an impression. If no one is competing for time than a student can take as long as he wants. However, I urge students not to monopolize a conversation because it demonstrates a level of insensitivity.

  • Is it appropriate to ask for a business card and to contact the representative after a fair?

Yes, absolutely and you should send them an email thanking them for the time they spent with you. You can even resend your resume too!

  • What are common mistakes applicants make when participating in MBA fairs?

Asking questions that are not relevant to his or her situation or not researching schools before talking with them. Here are some questions not to ask…

  • “What is your average GMAT score?”…research this online on Business Week or through other sources.
  • Tell me why I should apply to your school…” never ask this of an admission officer because it implies you think the school would be privileged to accept you.
  • Where is your school located?“…this question does not exhibit much prior research.
  • Asking a local program…”How strong is your career services in this city?” A better question is: “Does your career services center have connections into XYZ industry where I am looking for a position after graduation?” The second question is a fair question and should be asked. The first one will generate a predictable response of “Of course we are strong in job placement in this city”

The more your questions relate to your goals, situation and background the better they are to ask because asking penetrating questions allows the representative to get a lasting impression of you! Remember you are considering a big investment by going back to school. Schools want to get to know you as a person.

To register or for more information about scheduled fairs, check out the MBA Tour website.

How to Make the Most of MBA Fairs was excerpted from MBA Fairs: Advancing Your MBA Ambitions. To view the entire free special report, please click here.

mba-fair ~ Helping You Write Your Best

Participate in Upcoming US MBA Tour

The MBA Tour The MBA Tour will be setting up camp at a city near you this summer.

Date City
Thursday, July 19th Chicago
Saturday, July 21st Los Angeles
Sunday, July 22nd San Francisco
Tuesday, July 24th Houston
Thursday, July 26th Atlanta
Saturday, July 28th New York City
Sunday, July 29th Boston
Tuesday, July 31st Washington, D.C

Each event will last around 5.5 hours and will feature speakers and representatives from top business schools, including CMU Tepper, Cornell Johnson, Georgetown, IE, Indiana Kelley, MIT Sloan, Northwestern Kellogg, UCLA Anderson, Chicago Booth, Rochester Simon, Washington Olin, and many others.

There will also be representatives from various GMAT/GRE prep companies.

To intelligently choose the programs you want to apply to, you need to know the programs and the opportunities they are likely to present to you. Furthermore, a key factor in MBA applications and many MBA essays is showing fit with the program. To show that fit, you need to know about the programs. Attending and participating in an MBA fair is a great way to pursue that information. It is an extremely valuable tool and resource for anyone applying to business school. Make sure you take advantage of the MBA Tour’s FREE programming and register for an event near you today!

Linda Abraham recently interviewed Peter von Loesecke, CEO and Managing Director of the MBA Tour, for Admissions Straight Talk. He shares insight on trends in MBA education as well as experienced tips on how to make the most of MBA fairs. Attend and benefit. You’ll be glad you did. ~ Helping You Write Your Best


Admissions Straight Talk: Interview with Peter von Loesecke

Peter von LoeseckeWelcome to the fourth episode of Accepted Admissions Straight Talk, a biweekly podcast about what’s new, thought-provoking, and useful in the world of graduate admissions!

For advice, insight, and info, check out the full audio of our great conversation with Peter von Loesecke:

00:25:00  –   Meet Peter: CEO and Managing Director of The MBA Tour.

03:29:50  –   What’s new at The MBA Tour this year. (Ever been to Jakarta?)

05:29:00  –   How The MBA Tour addresses application moving parts: Admissions, financial aid, and visa issues.

09:44:00  –   Top tips on getting the most out of attending an MBA fair.

12:25:50  –   Appropriate ways to follow up with a school rep (hint: the answer doesn’t include the word “aggressive”).

15:14:50  –   The egregious mistakes: what not to do at an MBA fair.

19:38:50  –   Trends for applicants to be aware of.

22:51:50  –   Interest in specialized masters programs in business is increasing, and The MBA Tour is responding to that interest.

24:44:00  –  Insider’s advice from Peter for 2012 MBA applicants.

26:33:00  –  What to do if you’ll be applying in over a year.

28:31:51  –   Linda is jumping up and down and cheering!

Admissions Straight Talk Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk in iTunes so you don’t miss any segments! Stay in the admissions know. (And while you’re there, feel free to leave us a review.)

*Theme music is courtesy of

MBA Admissions: Interview with Nunzio Quacquarelli of QS World MBA Tour turned recently to Nunzio Quacquarelli, Managing Director, QS World MBA Tour for his perspective on the MBA scene. In addition to organizing the QS World MBA Tour, Nunzio, who earned his MBA from Wharton, authors TopMBA Jobs & Salary Trends Report and QS Global 200 Business Schools: The MBA Employer’s Choice. He writes and speaks extensively on trends in graduate business education. He has generously shared his thoughts in response to a few questions below:

What do you see as three of the most significant changes in the graduate business education market in the last ten years?

QS World MBA TourIn terms of MBA employment opportunities, the high growth has taken place the emerging markets over the past decade. I think that we’ll see the overall volume of MBA opportunities in Asia out-stripping the US quite soon. Some employers in China and India are literally employing thousands of MBAs every year. There are also multinationals operating, or planning to grow, in emerging markets that are looking to take MBAs from the west and employ them in those economies. So, there is more and more mobility of MBAs – not necessarily candidates from emerging markets coming to the west, but actually candidates from the west going to the emerging markets. What is happening now is quite a fundamental change in the flow of talent and, I think over the next decade, it will accelerate a lot.

Over the decade there has been a sharp increase in demand for MBAs with over six years of work experience, spawning a huge growth in the number of executive MBA programs on offer around the world and yielding far higher average salaries. MBAs are no longer viewed as a homogenous group. As business schools produce ever more pre-experience masters students, employers are increasingly paying premium salaries for more experienced MBA candidates with strength in the ‘soft’ skills, such as leadership, communication, interpersonal and strategic thinking. These skills are often considered a more important outcome of an MBA qualification by employers than say accounting or other traditional ‘hard’ MBA skills, according to QS Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2011/12, which surveyed over 12,000 employers worldwide.  Local employers will settle for MBAs with less than two years of experience, but they won’t pay much more than a pre-experience graduate. Multinational employers paying $100,000 salaries continue to prioritise MBAs with three to five years of experience, but executive MBA salaries can often be double this level.

Socially responsible careers and social entrepreneurship, in particular, have become a much more important and attractive career priorities for MBAs. The shock of the credit crunch and a loss of confidence amongst young people in the banking sector in particular, has inspired a new generation of MBA candidates to prioritise socially responsible careers, both within the corporate sector and as start ups. In QS Applicant Survey 2011, 33% of applicants specified an interest in starting their own business, compared to 23% a decade ago, whilst the numbers of applicants reporting a desire to specialise in finance is at an all time low. The Aspen Institute publishes ‘Beyond Grey Pinstripes’ ranking of business schools, based on the extent of their socially responsible course content.

Do you feel that the rise of European and Asian business schools could dethrone U.S. schools as leaders in graduate business education? What are they doing right?

Demand for MBA programs in Western Europe and several emerging markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore, and China continue to rise, as an inevitable result of the burgeoning demand for MBA graduates amongst local, regional and multinational employers.  

The US remains the most popular MBA study destination worldwide with over 60% of MBA applicants considering an US MBA, though this is down from over 80% a decade ago, according to the QS Applicant Survey. The QS survey also found 30% of full-time MBA applicants from the US are specifying an interest in taking an MBA outside the US, with Europe and Asia the most popular regions.

Attitudes to MBA study are definitely changing. People are placing greater emphasis on access to local alumni and employer networks, ahead of the long established global reputation of many US business schools.  Australian and European business schools have been particularly successful in building international recognition and reputation to compete with US institutions over the last decade, as well as creating strong alumni networks. Shorter courses, more international classes and ‘live’ consulting assignments are all part of the offerings of these upstart MBA programs. Asian business schools are perhaps a decade further behind in building the faculty and infrastructure required to maintain an international reputation, but few would bet against several Asian business schools developing world class status within the next ten years.

Do you feel that experiential learning is going to replace cases? Or do you feel that case study schools will still use primarily case study in the classroom, but also add experiential elements to their curricula?

MBA curricula are undergoing changes at business schools around the world. The majority of European business schools and many US business schools now include consulting assignments and experiential learning as part of their curricula, whilst retaining some case study delivery.

Where do you see graduate business education going in terms of geography and methodology in the next 5-10 years?

I would identify three trends: 1) Online delivery opens up many innovative opportunities for schools. 2) Recent market failures have placed greater emphasis on delivery of corporate social responsibility and business ethics at the heart of MBA programs. 3) Globalisation is placing greater emphasis on cross cultural learning, languages and leadership.

Business schools seem to be selecting combinations of these three trends when they revise their curricula. For example, recent curricula reform at The Wharton School has included:

  1. Strengthened teaching of the analytics
  2. An integrated focus on ethical and legal responsibility in business
  3. An increased focus on oral and written communication
  4. New methods of leadership development emphasizing self-analysis

How have MBA fairs changed in the last ten years? Are there any lessons for applicants?

Attending an MBA fair like our QS World MBA Tour in a nearby city is a way for a candidate to meet Admissions officers and alumni face-to-face. The format of the Tour has changed little over the last decade. We have typically 70 to 130 of the top business schools from around the world attending, with seminars on MBA admissions, GMAT, MBA Careers and other pertinent topics. The application process starts here, because strong candidates will develop a personal link to the Admissions officer who may ultimately be the person making the decision to admit, or not. Talking to alumni will make sure the cultural fit is right and confirm your school selection.( )

QS has innovated with our TopMBA Connect 121 events which are designed for candidates in the final stages of their MBA selection process. These events are open only to pre-selected qualifying candidates who have taken their required tests and are looking to complete applications and start their MBA in the near future. One-to-one interviews are arranged with admission officers to finally determine the suitability of the candidate and to fast track their application. (

Lessons for MBA applicants would include:

  • Lesson one: Consider your career goals from the start – think about why you want to take an MBA and how it can benefit your career? Are you seeking a career change, or career progression? Which industry and function interests you most? Do you want to stay and work in your home country or move overseas? How do you aspirations match up with market trends and opportunities? Even if you are unsure and feel you want to consider your options during your MBA, having clear career goals will help you put together a better application.
  • Lesson two: Conduct an honest self-assessment – Also consider your strengths and the weaknesses you want to develop as a result of your MBA. An honest self-assessment will save you a great deal of time and energy and help you make a more focused selection of schools.
  • Lesson three: Budget and feasibility – Do you have enough savings to be able to give up work and study full-time, or do you need an Executive part-time MBA or distance MBA, so you can carry on working?
  • Lesson four: Research and Selection – undertake a systematic, rational research exercise to narrow down your choice of schools – create your personalised ranking (see for example). Then pick no more than six schools you would seriously consider applying to: perhaps two elite schools which may be difficult to gain entry to but would be your dream, two highly rated schools which are perhaps just a bit more in reach, two high quality schools with lower entry criteria (to make sure you are accepted somewhere decent).
  • Lesson five: Don’t skip the opportunity to meet the Admissions Officers and Alumni face-to face at a fair. An MBA is a huge investment and you really do want to make sure there is a cultural fit and that your assumptions about the school are correct before you make your final decision.

The QS World MBA Tour will be in over 60 cities across North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia, India and the Middle East. Participate in an event near you to benefit from $1,200,000 of exclusive scholarships available for attendees, admissions strategy workshops, careers panel with MBA recruiters and alumni and more. Visit QS World MBA Tour in a city near you. ~ Helping You Write Your Best


Pick the MBA Fair That’s Right for You


I came across this excellent post about MBA Fairs by MBA Podcaster and asked permission to publish as a guest post on the Accepted Admissions Blog. MBA Podcaster said “yes” so here it is.

MBA Tour season is officially here. There are some fantastic events happening all around the world and online so there’s no excuse to not chat one-on-one with your top schools. Here’s a summary of the top tours happening now.

Why We Like It: You pick the schools you want to meet with, your resume will be pre-screened by the school and Access MBA and if you’re a fit you will be selected to sit down one-on-one with admission’s reps from the schools you pick. Very well represented by international schools.
Where: All across Europe, Middle East, Asia and South America
Cost: Free
When: September through December
Etc: Access MBA events also offer prospective MBA students personalized services such as one-to-one meetings and workshops with the world’s best MBA programs, interactive panel discussions with school representative, individual MBA consulting sessions and GMAT advising.

What: The Economist’s Which MBA? MBA Fair
Why We Like It: This is the best virtual MBA Fair available. The Economist has put together an interactive web platform that’s easy and fun to use and where you can virtually chat one-on-one with admission’s reps.
Where: At your nearest computer
Cost: Free
When: 48 hours from September 7th – 8th 2011
Etc: Talk to admissions officers one-on-one and in chat sessions, broaden your perspective and learn more about diverse MBA programs, gain insight into the MBA experience from webinars, videos and downloads. You could win a FREE iPad 2 when you log in and visit 5+ school booths

Why We Like It: Intended for women, this forum is a great way to network with high profilers from top schools and make an impression in a less crowded environment. Also, the events are well attended by alumnae who are now working at top companies across the country so it’s a chance to also make a connection for a summer internship.
Where: All across the United States plus London 
Cost: Free for pre-registrants
When: September 13 – October 4th, 2011
Etc: As a special offer to MBA Podcaster users, Forte Foundation is offering half-off Premium Membership to those who register for a Forum, a $25 value. Upon registering, you’ll be sent a link to sign up for discounted membership along with the promotion code.

Why We Like It: You’ll find the largest number of schools, and the most top ranked schools, in a traditional tour environment. Walk the floor, shake hands with the full time admission staff members present and discuss your questions or application. 
Where: All over the world, upcoming tours are in Latin America, Asia, India, Europe and Canada 
Cost: Free for pre-registrants
When: Now – ongoing
Etc: Schools include Columbia, Cornell, University of Chicago, INSEAD, HEC, IE, Kellogg, Michigan – Ross, University of Maryland, Schulich, McGill, UBC and many others.

Why We Like It: Kaplan has done an impressive job of breaking into the MBA touring world. They’ve put together an impressive list of schools including Stanford, Chicago Booth, Haas, Kellogg, Tuck, Duke Fuqua, IMD, INSEAD and many others.
Where: Across the United States 
Cost: Free for pre-registrants
When: Ends August 23, 2011
Etc: Events include breakout sessions for GMAT training, admissions strategy and happy hours hosted by various schools.

By MBA Podcaster, which delivers relevant information and advice through excellent biweekly audio and video segments for those planning to apply for a Master in Business Administration.

MBA Fairs: Free Special Report!

The MBA Tour is in California!


The MBA Tour will be in CaliforNI-AY this weekend! It will open in San Francisco on Saturday at the Hyatt Regency, and on Sunday it travels to downtown Los Angeles and the Wilshire Grand Hotel.

I don’t have any official role, booth, or table, but I intend to visit the LA event probably in the late morning or noon-time. If any of you recognize me (just add 5 years to the picture below.), please say “Hi!” I’d love to meet you.

As you know, I strongly recommend learning as much as you can about the schools. The MBA Tour brings the schools to you and allows you to network with school representatives. Registration is free. So Californians, if you are in driving distance of downtown LA or San Fran, it’s a great opportunity.

By Linda Abraham, Accepted’s founder and president.



MBA fair

Applying to MBA Programs This Fall?


Where do you begin?

The foundation of a successful MBA application is self-knowledge combined with school research.  If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ve seen that concept before.

To start learning about the different programs, begin at your computer.  Review the school web sites and  Accepted’s b-school zones.

After developing a list of schools that interest you, take advantage of MBA fairs and school receptions  to go into greater depth.  MBA fairs are a valuable source of information and offer a forum where you  can also interact with school representatives.

In fact, the upcoming MBA Tour events are a great opportunity for fall applicants to proceed with this initial research. The MBA Tour will start off in New York on July 23, travel through Washington DC, Boston, Atlanta, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and end in Houston on August 4.  If you’re not in the US, check out their events outside the US too.

Take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about top MBA programs, meet representatives, and get the information you need to distinguish between the different programs and focus your efforts. It is a great place to start! ~ Helping You Write Your Best


Disclosure: and The MBA Tour have a co-marketing agreement.