Go to a better blog!

You can find a better version of my blog at http://www.adammarkus.com/blog/.

Be sure to read my Key Posts on the admissions process. Topics include essay analysis, resumes, recommendations, rankings, and more.

March 24, 2008

Winning the Graduate Admissions Game Presentation

On April 6, 2008 at 6:30pm, I made a presentation, “Winning the Graduate Admissions Game,” at Good Day Books in Ebisu, Tokyo.
My presentation focused on how MBA applicants should develop a winning strategy for playing the graduate admissions game on their own terms. I want to thank everyone who came.
-Adam Markus

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March 21, 2008

School Selection: Paying for It

This is the third in series of posts on school selection for both those in the process of selecting where to apply to and those deciding where to attend. The first post is here. The second post is here.

How I can pay for tuition and all related costs? Except for the rich, the cost of education is always a consideration. You will need to figure this out for any school you attend, so look carefully to see what you will actually need, what you can borrow, and what kind of scholarships might be available. Don't be afraid to ask admissions questions about this because it is too important a topic to guess about.

For those who have now been accepted to one or more schools, it is time to start paying! If you are making a decision about which program to attend, finances are likely a critical consideration for you. Now is the time to figure out exactly how you will really pay for your graduate degree. Of course, you should have already figured this out before you applied, but you have not, you need do it now. Where you eventually decide to go may very well be the result of the calculations you make.

For those who are deciding where to apply to, you need to have a clear plan for how you will finance your education. Many applications will require that you state this, so you might as well do your homework at the initial stage. If you will be coming to the US as an international student, you will need to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds in order for the school to issue you an I-20 (the document you need to get a student visa). While much of your plan will likely be a function of your finances and those of your family, your plan might also rely upon support from the school or from loans.

What scholarships are available to me and how likely is it that I can get one? Depending on your background, financial need, academics, and GMAT, and the program you are applying to, schools have very different levels of funding available. If you are expecting to get scholarships, look closely at their availability when selecting schools.

The availability of part-time work, research assistantships, and teaching assistantships is another consideration. If you are an international student, your ability to work will greatly vary depending on where you go. The US has very stringent rules on part-time work for those on international student visas, so don't count on being able to work. For those pursuing Ph.D.s one primary source of funding would be a research or teaching assistantship, but the availability of such positions varies widely.

Loans: MBA programs often have great programs for all admitted applicants to obtain loans, but this is less often case with other types of degrees. Look at what will be available to you before you apply. If you are international student, depending on your situation, you may need to obtain loans in your country, so look into this before you apply.

ROI: Return on Investment. Simply calculating costs is not enough, you have to look at the return you can expect as well. It may very well make good financial sense to leave school with $100,000 in debt if the return justifies it. Regardless of what type of program you attend, you really do need to do some cost calculations so that you have a sense of what your graduate degree will be costing you and what kind of potential return you can expect from it. It is an investment of time, energy, and money, so make your decisions carefully. For more about ROI, see the Businessweek ROI calculator.

Questions? Write comments or contact me directly at adammarkus@gmail.com. Please see my FAQ regarding the types of questions I will respond to. If you are planning to apply for an MBA, LL.M., Ph.D., or a Masters and would like to learn more about my consulting services, please visit http://adammarkus.com/. I offer a free initial consultation.
-Adam Markus
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March 19, 2008

School Selection: Location Matters!

This is the second in series of posts on school selection for both those in the process of selecting where to apply to and those deciding where to attend. The first post is here. The third post is here.

LOCATION really does matter. Be sure that you will be able to thrive in whatever kind of place you will be studying in. Some people really do need less distracting (rural) environments, others need warm locations, and students with school age children really do need to think about this issue as well. I certainly would not say location is necessarily the most important factor, but if you are thinking of being somewhere for a year or more, it should certainly be taken into consideration. For those who don't want to relocate, location obviously is a primary factor, but what follows are for those who are planning on doing so.

Some questions to think about:

1. Will the location help or hinder my studies? For some people, going to school in a small town would be a great way to stay focused, but for other people it would be torture. For some the distractions of a big city would be fatal to their studies, while for others it would only facilitate them. If your studies are highly dependent on or will be greatly enhanced by access to location specific specific resources, think carefully about this issue.

2. Is the school located in a safe place? Everyone has different conceptions of what a safe place is. For US schools, see College and University Campus Crime Statistics. Also take a look at the crime rates in the city that your school will be located in. Given the recent horrible tragedies to hit US schools, I know that some applicants will be looking closely at this issue, especially because of pressure from parents. For a Wharton student's perspective on crime in Philadelphia, see here.

3. What is the availability, cost, and quality of housing?
Related to location, really think about what kind of place you need/want to live in. There is such huge variation on this and it is unlikely to be fully revealed by the estimated cost of housing that schools will provide you with. I strongly suggest asking students once you are admitted. In addition to the school's housing office, craigslist is one great resource for finding housing.

4. The transportation infrastructure: (public transportation and availability of parking). Invariably campus parking is a pain, but that said, if you are going to be doing a commute to get to school, you should at least look into this. For those who don't know how or don't want to drive (For the record, I fit into both categories), you should really consider this issue.

5. If the school is not located in a major city, how easy is it to get access to a major airport? Easy airport access is quite important if you will need to travel for job interviews, academic conferences, or just to get away from your little college town.

6. Does the school's location support my personal or family's needs? For some individuals, such as Orthodox Jews and observant Muslims, having easy access to appropriate places of worship as well as acceptable food are critical. For others, it will be access to good schools for their kids. Whatever your personal or family needs are, you should consider them when applying to a school. It is best to do your homework on this issue first and take nothing for granted, especially if you are applying to school located in a small town.

Questions? Write comments or contact me directly at adammarkus@gmail.com. Please see my FAQ regarding the types of questions I will respond to. If you are planning to apply for an MBA, LL.M., Ph.D., or a Masters and would like to learn more about my consulting services, please visit http://adammarkus.com/. I offer a free initial consultation.

-Adam Markus
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March 18, 2008

MIT Sloan MBA 1st-Year Student Interview


First-year MIT Sloan MBA student and blogger, Kaz, was kind enough to answer a series of questions. Before coming to MIT Sloan, Kaz worked for one of Japan's large trading firms for nine years. He spent three years in the Tokyo headquarters doing work in the oil and gas infrastructure business and six years in the New York office focused on IT and telecom sectors. Kaz moved to Boston with his wife and two sons last August. As some of the Japanese readers of his blog know, he is my former client.

Adam: What was the First Semester Core like? What did you learn? How hard was it?

Kaz: The core classes are basic subjects such as Statistics, Micro Economics, Accounting, Communication, Organizational Processes, and Finance Theory (Links are to Kaz's blog entries). As an E&I student, I had an extra class, Introduction to Entrepreneurship, and a study trip to the West Coast.

I felt that the learning in the Core was important, but very basic at the time. For example, the Accounting and Communication classes were relatively easy for me because I have a background in those areas based on my career. Some other people might have felt those two courses were tough. On the other hand, finance was tough for me because I did not have any knowledge prior to coming Sloan. Other people might have felt it was easy. In sum, I think the Core is important because the students, no matter what background they have, will gain knowledge for the electives taken in later terms.

Time management in the Core term was very tough. It is not because the class assignments were too hard. As I said, most of the work required in the Core is reasonable level. What made my time management tough was the fact that there were a lot of things to do outside the class. As a Sloan student, you have numbers of exciting events literally everyday: Speaker sessions featuring famous CEOs and CFOs, Socialization events, Career related events, etc. After starting my life here, I was so excited that I attended as many events as possible. But soon I found myself extremely exhausted, and there was no time to study! Then in December, I started to reduce involvement in outside class activities in order to concentrate on the classes. Here there are a number of incredible opportunities outside class, so my advice is still “go and take as many as possible,” but at the same time, I feel now that it is important to find the right balance.

Adam: What are you studying now?

Kaz: From the second term, classes are 100% elective. You can choose what you study. I decided to focus on Finance related skill development in this term, so most of the classes I am taking are related to Finance. Here is the list of the classes:
Finance Theory II
Financial Statement Analysis
Strategy Management
Marketing Management
Applied Macro & International Economics
While the Core classes were mainly lecture style (they dealt with cases only once in a week or so), the elective classes that I am taking now are mostly case discussion. So it became far more interesting than the Core classes. But still, I believe Core is valuable because it gave foundation of each subject. With the theoretical background, I think the case study became more profound and interesting.

Adam: Can you tell us about the C-Function?

Kaz: C-Function is a monthly night event for Sloan students and their families. Every month a group of students from different part of the world organize the event with cultural and entertaining activities. Some examples are “Latin C-Function” “China C-Function” “Euro C-Function”, etc. It is not only fun, but also a great opportunity to know the other Sloan students in the outside class setting. “C” stands for “Culture,” but also means “Consumption,” since we consume a lot of food and beer at the event.

“Japan C-Function” is the biggest among all C-Functions. Last fall, we had over 1,000 attendees in our event. “Japan C-Function” is also recognized as one of the most organized of all the Sloan events. While 2nd year Japanese students organized the event overall, the 1st year students, including me, performed a 30 minutes dance and comedy show. We started practice for the show two months before.
Yes, I performed in a dance and comedy show with my colleagues. Can you imagine an over 30 years-old somewhat conservative Japanese businessman dancing and doing comedy in front of 1,000 foreigners? I would say that it would never have happened if I did not come here and became a student again. “C-Function” was truly back-to Gakuen-sai (School Festival) experience.

Adam: What general advice do you have for those considering application to MIT?

Kaz: Generally, I think MIT Sloan will fit perfectly to the people who has eagerness to try, and who has action-oriented mind. The reason for it is because a lot of the opportunities are available at MIT Sloan, but you have to be proactive to get the real fruit out of it. A class project in one of the Core classes, Organizational Processes, is a good example. In this project the students are requested to identify and negotiate an outside organization (company, non-profit, public sector, etc) to cooperate. The student team (consists of 5-7) interviews and analyzes its organizational structure and present it in the class. This is not typical learning by sitting and listening to a professor. It deal with the real organization and real people, so you have to think in a way that a real business person think. Also, you have to be proactive to learn something, because it is really open-ended assignment.

MIT heavily emphasizes the value of Teamwork. So if you are comfortable with teamwork situation (or try to enhance your teamwork skills), MIT Sloan is the place for you.

In fact, I did not know before coming here, but I would say that teamwork for Sloan is leadership for HBS. It’s that important for Sloan. That is why every activity involves elements of teamwork. You need to form a team in most of the classes. For example, 4 out of 6 classes I currently have requires team formation. Numbers of people in one team varies, but in total, I am teaming up with 11 people now (3 Americans, 3 Latinos, 2 Europeans, and 3 Asians). Team members regularly have meetings to discuss the class assignments. In busy days, meetings are sometimes held on weekends.

Overall, I can say that MIT Sloan is definitely one of the best MBA schools that you can attend. There are a lot of opportunities available inside and outside classes, and the curriculum is very flexible. But most importantly, the fellow students are outstanding people. They are very smart and mature. I feel that the major part of learning in the MBA education attributes to the fellow students. So in general, the top ranked schools are better not only for branding, but also the quality of learning since you will have better chance to work with smart people.

One of the frequently asked questions is “The curriculum at MIT Sloan has rigorous mathematical element?” The answer is definitely no. While MIT is famous for its excellent engineering school, but Sloan is a business school. Quantitative skills are required, but no more or less than the other top schools. So don’t worry.

Adam: You have been actively doing a blog (MIT MBA留学日記 〜 二度学ぶブログ) in Japanese since you started at MIT. What has motivated you to do that?

Kaz: I started it as my personal diary to remember what I learned in MBA. I choose blog as the media because I am a typical Mikka-bozu [Someone who stops doing something easily] person. I hoped to force myself to continue keeping diary by revealing it to public. It fortunately worked somehow and I wrote more than 100 entries now. It started in that way, but now communication through my blog is another motivation. I occasionally receive personal questions about MBA, MIT, and Boston from somebody who knew me through my blog. Those people contacted me because they read my blog and shared my view. Sometimes they share what they think to me personally. It is a great feeling to have such interaction. It is an unexpected, but valuable learning opportunity for me
I want to thank Kaz for taking time to answer my questions.

Questions? Write comments or contact me directly at adammarkus@gmail.com. Please see my FAQ regarding the types of questions I will respond to.

-Adam Markus
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School Selection: Where to apply? Where to go?

Updated on March 21, 201-.

This is the first in series of posts on school selection for both those in the process of selecting where to apply to and those deciding where to attend. See my other related posts on academic fit,
ranking, location, financing your education, and prestige.

From my perspective, when deciding where you are going to spend one, two, or in the case of PhD, three to five or more years of your life, it is worth going through a formal process of analyzing your options.

I view school selection as the foundation for a successful admissions strategy. Honestly, there are times, when I, as an admissions consultant, have basically been put in the position of helping a client try to execute a school selection strategy that I have had serious doubts about. I have always expressed these doubts, but I have respected the decisions of my clients to make their own choices.

For those doing initial school selection, I have tried in this post to provide you with a core strategy for selecting schools.

For admitted applicants what follows in this post really applies only if you are not happy with where you have been admitted to. For admits making the happy choice between programs they like, please see the rest of the posts in this series.

You need to be both ambitious and realistic about your application strategy. Being ambitious means applying to where you really want to go, while being realistic means defining for yourself how much risk of total rejection you want to take. For example, if you apply to the “only school you really want to go to,” you meet the admissions criteria, and it happens to have a 15% chance of admission and you are wiling to take on an 85% chance of rejection, you are being both realistic and ambitious. If your GPA and/or test scores are below the average, if you don’t exactly meet the typical criteria for admission, or there is some other factor that on objective level makes you look weaker than the statistical average, assume your chances for admissions are less than 15%. In the latter situation, I still think it may be worth applying, but just be aware of what your chances are.

Related to my first point, I think you should objectively evaluate your chances of admission against a program’s stated quantitative and qualitative criteria to determine whether it is worth applying. Admissions offices generally have a holistic approach to the process of selecting candidates, so you should have a holistic approach to selecting schools.

I don’t believe in the utility of applying to any school that you would not want to attend unless you simply must get in; in other words, I don’t like the concept of backup schools. Clearly those who are company-sponsored often must get in somewhere, but for most other people this is not the case. If you will be unhappy going to a school, unless you have no other options, why do so? You should define your overall minimum requirements and apply only to programs that meet or exceed that standard. For some applicants that might mean only applying to the top programs in their field, but for others it might mean applying to a very wide range of programs

I think you need to build a portfolio of options for yourself so that your chances of admission are maximized. Depending on the degree and the schools you are applying to, there maybe very good information on rates of admission or perhaps none at all. For MBA applicants to US schools, the admissions data is easy to obtain. For non-US schools, the actual rates of acceptance and yield (percentage of admitted applicants who attend may not be reported. For LL.M. admissions numbers, see my previous post. Regardless of the type of graduate degree program you are applying to, if you can’t find any information on admissions rates, but you seem to meet the criteria for admission, assume your chances are about 10%-15% for a top ten program in your field, 15%-25% for a top 25 program, 25%-50% for a top 50, and 50% for a top 100. This is only an approximation and no perfect substitute for real numbers, but is a good indicator of why the safety strategy involves a mixed portfolio of schools. I have worked with applicants who have applied to only 1 school and some have applied to 10 or more. Both strategies are viable and, under the right conditions, reasonable.

You should be able to have a “Plan B”
in event that you are not admitted anywhere. There a few reasons to do this. First, it is simply a practical consideration. Second, it is a useful mental exercise that will help you really understand what your minimum school requirements are. Third, it is simply a viable strategy to be ready to make reapplication.

"Reapplication" is not a dirty word
. If time is on your side, knowing that you may fail initially is really nothing to worry about. For many top MBA programs, re-applicants typically have higher rates of admission than the overall pool of admits. Therefore, if initial failure is option that you can live with, you might initially aim high to see how it goes. Finding some school to go to is usually never the issue, going where you want to often is. For more about reapplication, see here.

Finally, no matter whether you are deciding where to apply to or where to attend, you have to make comparisons.
All the questions in the posts in this series should ultimately be looked at in that context. Using the criteria in the posts that follow, identify which criteria matter to you and make your decisions accordingly.

Questions? Write comments or contact me directly at adammarkus@gmail.com. Please see my FAQ regarding the types of questions I will respond to. If you are planning to apply for an MBA, LL.M., Ph.D., or a Masters and would like to learn more about my consulting services, please visit http://adammarkus.com/. I offer a free initial consultation.

-Adam Markus
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March 15, 2008

AIGAC in the News

As some readers of my blog know, I am a member of AIGAC, a professional association of graduate admissions counselors. AIGAC just received very favorable coverage in INSIDE HIGHER ED, the single best source for serious journalism on higher education. Here are some excerpts:
Should a private admissions counselor also be able to work for a school or college?
To many who work in college admissions, the obvious answer is No, while others say that the practice is more commonplace and less (or more) dangerous than others assume. The practice came to light because of a controversy over a University of Pennsylvania admissions officer’s various private counseling roles — and the realization that the main organizations of college admissions officers and private counselors didn’t have a specific ban on the practice. Partly as a result, the National Association for College Admission Counseling now has a special working group considering whether tougher standards on conflicts of interest are needed for the field.

It turns out, however, that there is one, relatively new association of private counselors — focused on professional school admissions — that does ban double dipping.

The Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants
started accepting members only last year and has about 40 of them. But the association, whose members are private counselors, many of them focused on business school admissions, specifically bans them from simultaneously working for an institution of higher education...
Linda Abraham, president of the association and also of a private counseling business called Accepted.com, said that the group wants to be very clear about the philosophy behind its ban. “You can’t have two masters when their interests may be in conflict,” she said. “As an adviser to applicants, we have to try to have one employer, the applicant.”

As a member of AIGAC, I am proud to be a part of an organization that advocates purely on behalf of applicants. I wish that others operated with the same level of ethical clarity that we do.

Clearly there is significant work to be done to make educational institutions ethically accountable and transparent in their operations. PENN's administration, in particular, should be required to take a long hard look at itself and make the necessary changes to its admissions staff and/or policies. Given that Wharton has professors of business ethics on staff, one would hope that an internal ethical audit would be conducted.

While it is fine for professional associations like mine to set high standards, this would not even be an issue if the major national higher education associations like GMAC did so. All applicants should have their applications read by staff who do not have potential conflicts of interest and it is the responsibility of the universities themselves as well as GMAC and other similar authorities to guarantee that.

Questions? Write comments or contact me directly at adammarkus@gmail.com. Please see my FAQ regarding the types of questions I will respond to.

-Adam Markus
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March 11, 2008

Q&A with McCombs MBA Student Adcom Member & Blogger

Tatsuya Ishihara, who will be graduating from the MBA program at McCombs this spring, was kind enough to answer my questions regarding his experience. I have previously mentioned Tatsuya’s blog, which is a great source of information on his experience in Austin.

After graduating from Shimonoseki City University (he also studied as an exchange student at the University of Queensland, Australia), Tatsuya Ishihara worked for NEC Corporation as a strategist in its mobile phone division for four years. He started his MBA program at McCombs School of Business in University of Texas at Austin from Fall 2006 as a Rotary’s International Ambassadorial Scholar. He is a student member of the McCombs Admissions Committee.


Adam: What have you learned from studying at McCombs?

Tatsuya: Among a tremendous amount of learning at McCombs, I want to raise three major aspects below:
1. Solid financial literacy: As many of you may have already known, McCombs is one of the top Accounting schools in US. Not only accounting, but we also have great core/elective finance courses and real-world finance workshops taught by ex Wall Street investment bankers. During my internship period in summer 2007, I literally used many of those financial modeling techniques that I have learned through those courses, which differentiated me from other top MBAs and helped me getting the full-time offer. I had no background regarding accounting or finance prior to MBA. However, after one and half year of my concentration in learning Accounting and Finance here at McCombs, I strongly feel that I have a solid foundation to aim at a CFO/COO position in my mid-term future career.
2. Real-world international team leading skills: I served as a president in the International MBA Student Association (IMBASA) at McCombs. Again, I haven’t had an experience to lead an internationally diverse team using English. We formed 8 member officers group from different cultural backgrounds and organized several international events, including “International Night” which invited over 700 people living in Austin. This experience helped me understand which culture has what kind characteristics regarding how they approach businesses. Now, I am a much better leader who can plan a business/event, package each task so that each member can maximize her/his skills, and share the great feeling of the accomplishment with those diverse team members.
3. Work-life balance: Austin, where McCombs is located, is a great mid-sized city mixing the big-city-like convenience and small-city-like friendliness. Many of the students in UT-Austin, including me, have quite an influence from such a unique environment. I used to have one-sided view about how to live my life, just working and becoming smart. However, after I met really cool people here in Austin I really broadened my view about what kind of life I want to live and I literally imported some of their great personalities. I truly feel that I became a better person and now I have a clear vision of my future in 5-10 years. This is something that I could never have done without my experience at McCombs.

Adam: Can you compare yourself before attending McCombs and now? How have you changed?

Tatsuya: Firstly, before coming to McCombs I didn’t know what’s important in my life and wasted a lot of my time wondering what I really want to do. One of the most painful realities about preparing for and studying at the MBA program for me is that I had to sharpen up my life. It was all about compromising what it’s important to my life for what it’s REALLY important to my life. In fact, I have lost some of my good old friends and even my girl friend along the way. However, throughout the whole process, I could prioritize what is important in my life and spend less time on wondering what to do. Now I feel like I am 100% concentrating on what I want to do. Another less important thing, I have received a full-time offer as a financial analyst and could double my annual salary from that of previous job, being the top 5% of the total working population in Japan at my age of 28. That’ll give me some economic benefits. This is, however, something that does not guarantee my career after MBA.

Adam: I know you already have obtained a job from the company you interned at in the summer. What kind of internship did you do? What kind of job will you be doing?

Tatsuya: I worked at Eli Lilly Japan in Kobe as a summer finance intern. I was assigned a very ambiguous project, which was called “long-term investment optimization.” Not only myself, but also the other interns were assigned a very broad topic and Lilly’s management seemed to be watching the intern’s ability to break down the vague problems and make a significant tangible contribution to the organization within a limited time. Communication with the managers across different divisions was one of the key success factors during the internship.

I will be analyzing the company’s entire income statement, communicating the situation with headquarters in Indianapolis, creating a strategic framework, and implementing projects to increase the value of the firm from the financial side.


Adam: I know you have served as student adcom member. Can you please explain how you were selected and what you do?

Tatsuya: I had to write a one page summary of why I want to become the adcom member and what I can bring to the McCombs Admission Committee (MAC) . I also had a brief interview with the 2nd year MAC member and one of the adcom members. MAC consists with the admission members and around 40 McCombs full-time MBA students to represent our MBA program. We were involved in the process of reading and evaluating the applications. We also assist campus visitors to attend our classes, have lunch with us together, and chat about our MBA program.

Adam: McCombs has a very unique to asking about leadership in the application: “The Texas MBA is built around four key pillars of leadership. Describe an experience that you have had that clearly demonstrates your leadership as it relates to one of our
Four pillars:
1) Responsibility/Integrity
2) Knowledge/Understanding
3) Collaborative/Communication
Or 4) Worldview of Business and Society”
How would you answer that question for each pillar based on your experience at McCombs?

1) Responsibility/Integrity; As one of the Japanese MBA students and MAC member, I was voluntarily involved with more than 10 campus visits from Japan. Even when I was extremely busy with my own school workload, I organized several dinner sessions with the current Japanese students.
2) Knowledge/Understanding; As a Rotary’s ambassadorial scholar, I have presented several times in the Rotary’s meetings to enhance our cultural understanding. I have communicated with the coordinator to prepare the best material for the event to transfer my knowledge, and had great feedback in every occasion.
3) Collaborative/Communication; Also, during the summer internship, I think I could show my collaborative leadership to proceed the project that I was assigned. I communicated with more than 50 employees to incorporate as many aspects as possible to implement the projects.
4) Worldview of Business and Society; As a president of IMBASA, our team organized “International Night” to enhance our worldview of Business and Society. We had to communicate with the sponsors of the event, faculty members, over 100 student volunteers for their food stands, and with 10 performance groups in the event. The event ended up great by attracting more than 700 participants.

Adam: I was wondering if you could explain a little bit about the role of the pillars in your education at McCombs.

Tatsuya: These are actually the concepts that have developed under the leadership of Dean Hirst from 2006. The faculty tried to re-identify our core values to further develop the Texas MBA programs. The four pillars now act like a compass in our MBA program. For instance, our 1) strict policy on cheating, 2) market-driven specializations, 3) cohort system, and 4) international study opportunities clearly shows towards which direction the school is going.

Adam: Lots of schools have contribution questions, but it always seemed to me that there was more of a sense of reality to it at McCombs (“At the McCombs School of Business, you will be part of an active and diverse community. Referencing your personal strengths and unique experience, how will you enrich the McCombs community during your two years in the program?”) because the application was actually being read by students. Care to comment on that?

Tatsuya: You’re right. First and foremost, we hate smart liars. Those applicants, who write great things in her/his contribution essay, but actually cram themselves for better grades, get a good job, and do nothing for our school and classmates will not fit our culture. Letting such people in our school will destroy our great collaborative environment. We just try to avoid such a thing.

Adam: What general advice do you have for those considering application to McCombs?

Tatsuya: I think they should definitely do a campus visit, ideally before sending the application. But, even visiting after being admitted will still be worthwhile. I was also one of them who would say “Where do I have such time as I’m busy with GMAT!?” However, there is so much information or feeling that we cannot really imagine without meeting the current MBA students and visiting the city. Most likely, the applicants have higher expectations than the reality is. It is important to fill the gap at least before actually getting into the MBA program.

Adam: Do you have any specific advice for Japanese and/or other international applicants?

Tatsuya: Related to the above question, there is so much information or feeling that we cannot really imagine without campus visits. Fit is an essential factor for choosing YOUR MBA program. For example, I was also attracted by the Georgetown’s MBA program, because of its “international” environment. I have nothing bad to say about the program, and Georgetown was a great school. But, it was not my fit. The school provides a great environment for International students to be comfortable with the program. The rate of international students is also high, and the school seemed to be very used to such environment. However, I felt I cannot really develop myself in that kind of environment. In contrast, to be honest, McCombs has less care to the international students. I mean this in a good way. For instance, in our study groups, there’s no discrimination or mercy for international students. We’re supposed to do the same quality of work as American students. Some people would say that’s too harsh. However, I felt this kind of surviving environment will really help me grow into a truly global business leader. Anyway, such decision processes could not have been developed if I was biased only by the general school information.


Adam: I know you are a Rotary Scholar. Would you care to comment on how you obtained the scholarship?

Tatsuya: I knew that I cannot afford to the MBA tuition without getting some financial assistance. My family has slightly less household budget than the Japanese average, but has three kids including me, all of whom graduated bachelors/masters degree. My little brother was going to university at that time as well. So, at the very early stage of my application process (Dec-Jan 2004), I searched for several scholarship programs, and found Rotary’s would be the best option for me. The application process was similar to the MBA application process except for that you don’t need GMAT score. You need to have a reasonable TOEFL score, write essays both in English and Japanese, transcripts, and two recommendation letters (it was okay to have them from previous college professors). I went through one English test in both oral and written, and two interviews before being admitted. I remember there were around 80 applicants at the fist screening, and 4 of us were eventually selected as the scholars. I heard the process depends on which district they apply for, but it shouldn’t be that much different.

Adam: What kind of activities do you engage in as a Rotary Scholar?

Tatsuya: I’m engaged in attending and making presentation at the local Rotary Club meetings for a couple of times in a semester. Also, for a couple of times, I have been invited to do some volunteer work for local activities, such as making spaghetti for the high school football game in the same district. After graduating, I’ll be contributing the local club activities, including making presentations and doing volunteer works in the Yokohama 2590 District (http://rfd2590.blog48.fc2.com/). It’ll be my life-long fantastic opportunity/responsibility to give something back to the sponsor organization and local communities.


Adam: You have been actively doing a blog in Japanese since you started at McCombs. What has motivated you to do that?

Tatsuya: Because I had hard time deciding my best fit school. I eventually went to the campus visiting after being admitted. I think I made a right decision visit campus, but still I hoped that I could have more visual images and real-life information about the MBA programs. Also, I just thought it’s a huge mistake if an applicant chooses her/his MBA program just based on the ranking or on biased information. I hoped my simple real-life pictures and messages will help the applicants have a clearer view about the Texas MBA life. Also, I am financing the MBA cost by myself, and have a couple of financial supporters including Rotary club. I wanted to keep them informed about how I am doing in US.

Adam: What is your favorite MBA application Japanese language blog?

Tatsuya: “こうすれば受かるMBA 2007.” Actually, Kousurebaukaru website has information from 2000. I referred to the information a lot for my own application and motivated myself with those “old mans’ words.” This was the only web resource for me to collect the information about MBA. There are other dodgy websites related to MBA, but thought they are not much reliable and found some of them had wrong/misleading information. However, this website is all about the applicant’s real-life experience, and more than 50 people wrote their experiences. I think we can learn a quite a bit from their stories.

I want to thank Tatsuya for taking the time to answer my questions. I hope you found his perspective useful.

Questions? Write comments or contact me directly at adammarkus@gmail.com. Please see my FAQ regarding the types of questions I will respond to.

-Adam Markus
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ビジネススクール MBA留学

March 07, 2008

Georgetown University McDonough MBA Interviews

I reviewed the reports of Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business' MBA Full-Time Program
interviews found at accepted.com. These reports reveal that there are five key things to consider when preparing for Georgetown interviews:

1. You need to know your resume completely as you will likely be asked about content in it. Review it carefully and consider what your interviewer might ask you to explain more thoroughly. If it is on your resume, it is fair game.

2. You need to be prepared to answer routine MBA questions. Most reported interviews simply consist of them. See my previous post on interviewing.

3. If you are interviewed by students, assume that they will ask you what you are passionate about and how you will contribute to the program.

4. Interviewers (students, adcom, or alum) are friendly and consistently try to create a very relaxed interview atmosphere. This is an interview about fit and your own potential, so make sure you can explain in depth why you want to attend Georgetown, how you will contribute to it, and what you intend to do afterwords. Previous contact with alum, visits to campus, and/or intensive school research are all great ways to prepare.

5. Interviews are scheduled for 30 minutes and usually last 30-45 minutes.

-Adam Markus

I am a graduate admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. If you would like to arrange an initial consultation, please complete my intake form. Please don't email me any essays, other admissions consultant's intake forms, your life story, or any long email asking for a written profile assessment. The only profiles I assess are those with people who I offer initial consultations to. Please note that initial consultations are not offered when I have reached full capacity or when I determine that I am not a good fit with an applicant.

March 04, 2008

Waitlisted? Now what?

You can find an updated version of this post here.

This seems to be a very tough year to get admitted. I think we can assume next year will be even worse because more Americans will be applying to graduate school in lieu of being unemployed or underemployed. When the US economy goes bad, applications rise and the reverse is also true. Like every year, applicants find themselves getting waitlisted. While this post will focus on MBA, it also applies in general to other kinds of graduate programs. Here are my suggestions for how to proceed if you are waitlisted at B-School:

1. Don't panic or become depressed. The reason you were waitlisted is because there were too many qualified applicants and adcom likes, but don't know that they love you yet. Now is the time to think clearly and act effectively.

2. There are many reasons for getting waitlisted, but one I would like to immediately mention is yield control. That is to say, waitlisting highly qualified candidates who are applying to other top schools, is one way to further maximize yield (the percentage of admitted applicants who attend). Adcom directors want higher yield rates, not lower ones. After all, a higher yield indicates that more admits are choosing their school over other schools the applicants were admitted to. Consider the following yield rates ("Admitted applicants who enrolled in the newest class") taken from Businessweek:
HBS 89%
Stanford GSB 80%
CBS 77%
Wharton 67%
NYU 57%
Chicago GSB ?????

What does this tell you? As we could expect HBS and Stanford have very high rates, probably with double admits declining one for the other. Columbia which typically loses admits to HBS and Stanford, comes next, but as I stated in an earlier post, their numbers are somewhat inflated because of Early Decision. Wharton is next and it loses to HBS and Stanford consistently, and sometimes to Columbia (LOCATION!). NYU is next and it clearly loses to the rest of these schools as well as some others I did not list. Chicago GSB does not indicate what their yield is. Do they have something to hide? In my experience, they do because they consistently lose to HBS, Stanford, Wharton, Columbia, and perhaps MIT as well. The University of Chicago, for all of its association with free markets, does not seem to believe that MBA applicants should be able to make purchasing decisions on the basis of good data.

Waitlisting is a highly reasonable tactic for admissions to take to see who really wants to attend after the 2nd round decisions come out. Therefore you may have been waitlisted because they think you will go elsewhere and they can afford to bet on it.

Keeping yield control in mind, one clear objective of communicating with adcom after you get waitlisted is to show your strong commitment to attend.

3. For those waitlisted from 1st round, you should, of course, know that adcom likes you, but they really wanted to see the main pool of applicants, before making any decisions. You might be waiting for a quite a while longer, but be patient.

4. Be proactive, but not aggressively annoying, with admissions. Adcom will let you know what additional materials they will accept and you should most certainly provide them. That said, the worst thing you can do is send a continuous stream of correspondence or otherwise annoy the admissions office. If you turn yourself into an annoying freak, you can assume you will not get admitted.

5. GMAT & TOEFL: If you can take it again, do it, if your score goes up report it. Higher scores always help.

6. Additional recommendation: If they will take one, provide it. Think very strategically about your selection. You don't want a recommendation that will not add something substantially different from what your previous recommendations stated. Try to use a recommender who will do one more of the following:
(a) A recommender who will provide support for any areas of professional weakness in your background.
(b) A recommender who will provide a perspective on different part of your background.
(c) A recommender who will provide support for earlier or more recent period of your life.
(d) If academic recommendations are acceptable and your GPA is not great, consider getting an academic recommendation if you can get a strong one.
(e) If your English ability maybe the issue, consider getting a recommendation from someone who can speak positively about your English communication skills.

Additionally, many schools will also take informal recommendations from alums, so if you can get one from someone who knows you, it can't hurt.

7. Waitlist essay. Write one! The typical components:
-Additional reasons why you want to attend to show your real commitment and passion for the school. Think classes, school's culture, or any other reason that would make the school ideal for you.
-Discussion of changes that have taken place in your professional career after your applied. If anything new and great has happened, you should most certainly write about it.
- New content that was not emphasized in your application. Use some combination of the following possible topics:
(a) If you did not sufficiently discuss your leadership or teamwork abilities, you should most certainly do so.
(b) Write about contributions you can make to the school based on your experience, background, personality, and network.
(c) If your academic potential was not obvious, you should try to demonstrate that.
(d) If you have SUBSTANTIAL personal or professional accomplishments that you did not discuss, you should do so.
(e) If you did not focus very much on non-professional content in your application, focus on it here.

If the length is not stated, I would try to keep it to between 500 and 1000 words. More is not inherently better, quality is, so don't write about everything you can think of. This essay is quite important, so make sure that the content is at least as good as that of your original application.

8. If you can visit the school, do so.

9. Get a fresh perspective on your application by rereading it now. By doing so, you will probably have a good idea about what kind of recommendation to get and waitlist essay to write.

10. Consider seeking the advice of an admissions consultant. If you have already worked with one, you can go back to that person if you are otherwise pleased with their work. They know you and they could help you put something together that caught admissions' eye. On the other hand, you might want to pay for a fresh perspective. I offer both waitlist and reapplication counseling in addition to interview and comprehensive consulting services.

11. Do you need a PLAN B? If you are waitlisted and/or dinged everywhere you applied, it is now time to start thinking about whether you are going to apply for more schools for Fall 2008, reapply for 2009, or give up. Whichever the case, you need Plan B in place. See my earlier post on getting dinged first round for some suggestions on how to proceed as what I wrote there applies to your situation.

Best of luck and may your wait be short and culminate in admission!

Questions? Write comments or contact me directly at adammarkus@gmail.com. Please see my FAQ regarding the types of questions I will respond to.

-Adam Markus
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ビジネススクール カウンセリング コンサルティング 大学院 合格対策 MBA留学
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