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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.

June 30, 2008

Secrets of the MBA admission process revealed at last!

Secrets of the MBA admission process revealed at last!

Actually not. I have to admit I am always suspicious of anyone who writes or says that they have MBA or graduate admission secrets. Such secrets always seem to have the same level of seriousness as much of the spam email I receive. The use of the word "secrets" strikes me as the worst sort of marketing designed to attract the badly informed and the desperate.

I suppose the holders of such secrets might know something, but is it really a secret? Often the information provided will be focused on getting you an insiders perspective on the admissions process. Yet such perspectives are easy to learn about through contact with admissions officers, reading guides like Montauk's How To Get Into the Top MBA Programs, and in any event are not too hard to imagine. Just because someone is not aware of something does not make it a secret, it simply makes learning that thing new information.

I suppose some might consider it a secret that admissions committees are subject to pressure from administrative entities within a university, but that is just a failure to treat universities as organizations. A holistic admissions process is one when every factor is taken into consideration. That does not just mean you as an individual applicant are judged only in terms of who you are, but you are also judged in relationship to the whole applicant pool, and to the institutional interests of the school. It certainly is not a secret that admissions committees judge applicants based on multiple factors and I have yet to meet a single applicant to a "Top 20" MBA program who did not think they were in competition to get admitted. The same is true of those applying for Ph.D.s and any degree program that is competitive to enter.

Perhaps the secrets are about techniques for admission? Well I have yet to see such a technique. I provide lots of advice, but I have never thought that any of it was a secret. If I said it was, my mentor who helped me get into graduate school would, no doubt, laugh in my face. I would hope that my fellow admission consultants would also refrain talking of secrets, but there is always someone who will claim a special gimmick.

I am a great believer in creating an effective admissions strategy and utilizing specific tactics to do so, but I would never say that such strategies or tactics are secrets, rather they are methods. Some are writing methods, others relate to interviews, while still others relate to goal setting. I consider myself to be a methodological pluralist: The are many ways to peel an onion. My recent series of posts on ranking reflect that pluralism as does the way I analyze essay questions. If you review my Harvard Law School LL.M. and/or Harvard Business School MBA essay analysis for Fall 2009 admission as well as the schools I covered for Fall 2008, you will see that I have a variety ways to I analyze questions for the purpose of assisting applicants. These methods of analysis, while not secrets, are based on my clients' results.

In July, I will be analyzing the essay questions for Stanford GSB, Kellogg, Columbia (My J-Term analysis is up already, but the questions may change for September 2009), and some other programs. Look for a series of posts on recommendations, hopefully some more interviews with students, and perhaps a surprise or two.
Stay cool.

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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