MBA school selection

People typically pursue an MBA because they are looking to improve their career opportunities. MBA programs can be compared based on attributes such as rankings, starting salaries, recruitment/ job placement opportunities, and net costs. In addition, there are other factors that potential candidates focus on such as predominant teaching methods, size of classes and location. These are all important considerations; however, you are investing time and money when you complete an MBA program. Therefore, as you start the process, focus on your objectives for getting an MBA.

Where do you begin?

Research extensively the schools you are interested in. Look at the entire two–year experience and determine if the program will give you the skills you are looking to acquire, the resources you need, and the network you want to develop.  Take a look at such attributes as quality of student life, teaching methodology, faculty orientation (research versus teaching), and size of program. Location should also be a consideration because as can be expected, schools in the financial centers can easily attract guest lecturers in the financial services while other areas may offer expertise in areas such as healthcare or luxury brand management.

Understand your profile. Many facts are considered in the admission process, including academic background, professional experience and progression, achievements, leadership potential, awards, hobbies, and test scores.  Your performance in your prior academic program and test scores help shed light on how you will thrive in the program. Another key area that is considered will be your stated goals and how you expect the program to help you achieve them.  Understanding all these areas is the starting point for developing a personal branding strategy and help you stand out among other MBA prospects.

Finally, apply to a wide range of schools. Apply to schools that have higher GPA or GMAT results – “reaches” -as well as ones that have lower ones.  The process is highly subjective and you never know what combination of attributes gets you admitted.

Jumet

 

 

 

Should I apply early?

As the cherry blossoms, apple blossoms and almost all other blossoms have gone with the wind that stirs up all-too-soon warmth in the air, it becomes inevitable that summer is upon us whether we are prepared or not. So are graduate school application deadlines. The heat is being turned up.

As someone who has applied to US graduate schools as an international student and someone who has both evaluated and consulted numerous applicants, I would venture that three or so months would be a legitimate period of time to prepare your application. That puts the next three summer months at the front line for beating the first round of application deadlines of at least most top business schools.

So, are you mentally prepared to submit your application to your dream schools in September or October? Why do admissions keep pushing their deadlines ahead? What are the pros and cons of applying early, say, first round?

According to my experience, Admissions tend to perceive first or early round applicants as typically more put together, more proactive and more focused. Admission rates are usually higher for first round than later rounds. As a result, it should be no surprise that they would want to compete for those applicants and push their early deadlines to stay ahead of the game.

So clearly there are advantages to applying early. The question becomes whether you would like to get ready, to rise up to the challenge.

Obstacles to applying early can seem insurmountable. Summer is your craziest time at work. Your employer is yet to announce its pick for sponsorship. Family events all happen in this season. Your TOEFL and other scores just aren’t there. Therefore, you need those heated months to get over all the above, and you secretly place your hopes on those last two holiday weeks of the year to catapult you to the second round in early January, to compete in a much bigger pool of applicants.

Understood and understood. Yet the fact of the matter is, if you do not prepare yourself early, if you do not aim for early round, chances are you might not ultimately prepare yourself in the most optimal way regardless of rounds. Or shall we say, if you do not prepare, how would you know whether you are prepared? You do not want your second round to be your test round, do you?

There will always be obligations and obstacles. The only time to lay the foundation of your application to your dream schools is nevertheless now, when things just start to heat up. Reflect on and summarize your experiences and accomplishments, clarify and broaden your professional and personal goals, research and connect with the schools and people, get your resume ready and write and rewrite your essays. And in case all those things are under control, start preparing for your interview! The saying is: it is never too early to start.

Mengdan

Where to apply?

Reach

Where to Apply? Choosing which schools to apply to in your home country can be difficult enough, but doing so in another can be even harder. How can you choose a good balance of safety, likely, and reach schools that would all be a good fit for you and your goals? Here are some things to consider:

  1. Minimum requirements vs class profile. Reaching the minimum requirements for admission is a great start, but it’s worth checking out the class profile to see how you’ll compare to your classmates. If your TOEFL is lower, will you be able to participate fully in discussions? If you have much more work experience, what will your new network provide you?
  2. Location. Outside of class, what will your life look like? What opportunities can the school offer based on its location? For example, schools near Washington DC can offer more government-focused opportunities.
  3. Specialisations and concentrations. In addition to the core courses, how can this school help you focus on your area of interest? You can consider any internships or field work experience offered in addition to official concentrations offered. Some schools also allow you to design your own specialisation from their many courses.
  4.  Employment stats. If you’re self-sponsored and looking for a job after graduation, careers services and access to employers may be more important to you than for a sponsored candidate returning to a guaranteed job. Cost and scholarship options should also factor into your decision.

Posted by Faye

 

 

 

MBA School Selection: Examining Teaching Styles

People typically pursue an MBA because they are looking to improve their career opportunities. MBA programs can be compared based on attributes such as rankings, starting salaries, recruitment/ job placement opportunities, and net costs. While these attributes are valuable pieces of information, when narrowing down the school list, it is best not to focus on just the top few programs.  It is important to remain pragmatic and consider those schools that best meets your expectations and particular profile.

One attribute that is often overlooked in making school selection is teaching styles.  I would advise students to research the teaching styles of the different programs. There is the case study method, the experiential/action based learning method, and team-based focus of learning. Some schools will emphasize one method whereas many employ a combination of these methods.  It is important to find a program where the teaching method allows you to learn and thrive.

The case study method, often associated with Harvard, allows students to analyze and debate actual management challenges and make recommendations on actions that can be taken. This method relies on class discussions on a host of different views and tends to appeals to students who tend to be more outspoken and gregarious.

In recent years, schools have been added to experiential elements to the curriculum with increasing emphasis on hands-on activities such as industry-focused immersion experiences and conferences. Programs that favor this approach include Michigan Ross and Vanderbilt Olin. This approach may be favored by those who enjoy working in groups and want to see how businesses are managed in real-time.

Lastly, there is the traditional lecture method.  All MBA programs use this method but certain schools standout for their greater use. Lectures are often the most efficient method for teaching business concepts and theories with case-study and experiential learning both being more time consuming. Nevertheless, an academic environment where there is higher percentage of lectures may be more comfortable for some students.

MBA programs will incorporate all these methods when teaching the curriculum but there are significant variations between schools.  Consider your personal style and preferences as you begin the school selection process.

Posted by Jumet

MBA Applications: Deciding between Round 1 and 2 for International Candidates

One of the challenges with the MBA application is choosing which round or deadline to apply.  Generally, US MBA programs have up to four application rounds.  However, these rounds are mostly applicable for US applicants.  For international candidates, a different approach is necessary because there is a visa requirement that they must adhere.  Given this, most international candidates are encouraged to apply to either Round 1 or 2.

Regarding choosing between Round 1 and 2, the best advice is to self-assess one’s own background and application progress; then, select the round in which he feels most comfortable applying.  Since candidates only have one application opportunity per school each year, they should ensure that their application is at its highest potential before submitting.

To distinguish the advantages and disadvantages between these two rounds, use the following descriptions as guidance.

Round 1 Analysis

Benefit:  Since Round 1 applications are early, one of the benefits of applying in this round is that an applicant will get his results early as well.  This will provide him with the flexibility to apply to additional MBA programs in Round 2 if his results are not satisfactory.  As such, those who apply in Round 1 with unfavourable results will be able to reassess their application, strengthen any areas of weakness, and develop a stronger application for Round 2.  In essence, they will be able to pace their applications better.   Another benefit is that generally in Round 1, there are fewer people who apply.  Given this, the opportunity to stand out is stronger.

Challenge:   Conversely, the main challenge with Round 1 is that it is an early deadline.  Therefore, depending on when an candidate started his application, he may have less time to develop his goals and essays, strengthen his test scores, and request letters of recommendation.  Also, since most international MBA information sessions and events happen later in the year, this might present a dilemma for the candidate in terms of researching about a school and figuring out his “fit.”

Suggestion:  An international candidate should only apply for this round if he has strong test scores (GMAT/GRE and TOEFL), a clear sense of his goals and aspirations, and sufficient time to research about a school beforehand.    This round is also recommended for re-applicants as it will show their dedication to the school.

Round 2 Analysis

Benefit:   The main benefit of Round 2 is that an applicant is given more time to strengthen his MBA application.  This entails more time to develop his MBA goals and essays, to improve his test scores, to request letters of recommendation, and to research schools.    This extra time may be critical for many candidates as it helps to develop their competitive advantage.

Challenge:  The primary challenge with this round is that most MBA applicants (both domestic and international) will apply during this time.  Therefore, the competition is intense.  Also, given that most schools do not encourage Round 3 for international candidates, this means that applicants who apply solely in Round 2 may need to apply to more schools to increase their chances of admittance.   As such, the pacing of these various applications may be challenging.

Suggestion:  Besides having a strong application (i.e. test scores, letters of recommendation, etc.), an applicant needs to develop stories that help differentiate him from the rest of the MBA applicant pool.  This requires self-analysis and reflection.  Thus, personal branding becomes a critical part of the application even more so than in Round 1.

Posted by Lee Moua

Public Policy or Public Affairs?

Whats in a name

Looking at the many available course options for Master of Public Policy (MPP) and Master of Public Administration (MPA) degrees, it’s understandable that you may be confused. Deciding which one is right for you starts with understanding the differences and clarifying what type of career you intend to pursue. With this in mind, here are 3 points to help you make your decision….

  1. In general, the MPP tends to be more research heavy, with a focus on technical skills such as economic and statistical analysis, enabling graduates to research, for example, the social and financial impact of policy, and thus create new, improved policy. The MPA tends to focus more on developing people management, financial management, and leadership skills, enabling graduates to implement policy and ensure it is being followed.
  2. Most MPP and MPA programmes have a wide variety of concentrations and specializations. Some programmes allow you to cross register with other departments and even other universities, meaning that you have the opportunity to tailor your studies to your individual goals. Understanding what you really want from graduate study will help you identify the best match for you. It’s also worth remembering that there is no standard definition for these programmes, so ensure you do your research on each school in detail!
  3. Most MPP and MPA programmes require some work experience, but only some require relevant work experience. Considering your potential network, think about how this will affect your experience.

Overall, both the MPP and MPA degrees are well-respected, professional options for those seeking careers in Public Service. Having helped many students gain acceptance into the top programmes, I recommend clarifying your goals and skill gaps, identifying exactly what you need from a graduate degree, and then researching each programme to find the best fit.

 

Posted by Faye

Questions to consider when developing an MBA resume

An HR professional or Admissions Officer will spend no more than 60 seconds looking through your resume. It is therefore important that your resume be strategically and structurally composed to showcase your skills and maximize impact to the reader.

Think of the resume as a marketing tool for your personal brand that is used to entice AND engage the reader and a means for differentiating you from the competition.

To distinguish yourself, start by asking yourself and thinking through the following:

1. What one or two words best describe you?

2. What kind of leadership skills have you demonstrated and how were they measured?

3. Are you a good listener? Are you articulate? Are you comfortable expressing your opinion in a group setting?

4. What makes you different from the competition? Do you have bi-lingual capabilities? What certifications do you have?

These are just some questions to help you get going.  Please visit the following for more tips on building an effective resume.

http://www.topmba.com/blog/how-create-standout-mba-resume

http://www.vinceprep.com/blog/resumes

Posted by Jumet

大学院の必要性と卒業後の目標について

Why I need MPP-

 

みなさんこんにちは。
今回から、大学院出願で多くの学校が皆さんに質問する事項である、公共政策大学院卒業後の目標についてシリーズでお話しします。

第1回目はアプリケーションの中で最もよく聞かれる質問を題材にしたいと思います。

Please elaborate on why you have chosen to apply to the MIA/MPA program. How will this program enable you to achieve your career goals? Describe your academic and research interests and career objectives.

your career goalsとは何を指すのでしょうか?
国連で国際的な仕事がしたい、日本以外のフィールドで活躍したい?もしくは、国際舞台で活躍できる人材になる!という目標を掲げている方もいらっしゃるかもしれません。
または、具体的な目標を大学院に行って見つけたい という方もいるかもしれません。

しかし、これではこの問いに十分に応えているとは言えません。
なぜ学校がこのような質問を入試の段階で行うのでしょうか?
それは、公共政策大学院はプロフェッショナルスクールであり、卒業後にパブリックセクターに関連した職業人を輩出することを目的としているからです。
※印プロフェッショナルスクールとは、卒業後、専門家として活躍する人材を目指すためのプログラムを指します。

その表れとして、授業の中に、体験学習が組み込まれているプログラムが多くあります。
HKS Spring exercise
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GwK-8Zrg5c

こういったプログラムが用意されているのは、学生が就職活動での実績につながる経験を大学院で積んでもらうためです。
入学して半年後には、こういったプロジェクトで具体的なポジションをもって活躍することが求められているのです。
あなたはチームメンバーに対して何ができますか?貢献できますか?これを大学院が知りたがっています。

1年目からのこういった機会でみなさんが能力を発揮するために、入試の段階から、具体的な卒業後の目標を聞いているのです。

次回は卒業後の就職活動という観点でアドバイスをしたいと思います。

Posted by Chizuko Okada

Developing a Personal Brand in MBA Applications

In the competitive world of MBA applications, it is now more important than ever to stand out among other exceptional candidates. Top grades, GMAT scores and strong career growth are no longer sufficient.  Nor is being an engineer with excellent technical skills enough. Now applicants must think beyond their skills and qualifications and develop an application that reflects their personal brand. This personal brand is the key factor that differentiates them from others.

To understand what a personal brand entails, it requires a definition. To many people, a personal brand is an image a person exudes to others. In the context of the MBA application, it is the impression a person leaves with the reader. This impression is critical, as it will impact the result. Since most readers take roughly between 15 to 20 minutes to read through one application, the applicant has a short time to make a lasting impact.

Given this, for many people, the task of creating a personal brand is challenging. To ease this process, the following tips are useful.

1. Reflection

To create a strong personal brand, a person should reflect on his/her professional and personal life and identify reoccurring themes. These themes can be used to contextualize the applicant’s impression to others. For example, even though an applicant worked as an analyst, his area of focus may have been mainly in medical technology. As such, framing the application within the area of medical technology helps the reader visualize the applicant’s background and personal brand.

2. Strategy

Since people are always changing and growing from their experiences, their personal brand can change as well. Given this, it is necessary to be strategic in choosing a personal brand. This process involves an applicant to think beyond his/her own comfort zone and bubble. For example, for most system engineers, their work often requires concentration and singular execution. This profession can be isolating and individualistic. To balance out such an image, an applicant may want to choose a story in his/her MBA essay that connotes strong communication and collaboration skills.   This balanced application creates the personal brand of a well-rounded applicant.

3. Marketing

In MBA applications, marketing one’s personal brand requires tact and lexical awareness. When developing an image to the reader, the applicant should carefully construct the resume, essays, and application using vocabulary that is reflective of the personal brand he/she wants to convey. For example, if the person wants to present an image of a leader, using vocabulary such as directed, managed, and oversaw paints the picture of the brand to the reader. This tactic is important to shape and construct a meaningful personal brand.

Posted by Lee Moua

Before you apply….

MPP, MPA, MIA, MIR, MTop 3 resourcesSFS, MALD….Where to start? Which degree do you need? What do people  with these degrees do? Applying to Grad school can be daunting, but here are 3 resources to make it less so…..

  1. Careers in International Affairs. Published by Georgetown University Press, this book provides an overview of the wide variety of careers available under the very big umbrella of international affairs. From governments to multinational corporations to media, this book provides insights on the jobs available, and how to get them. http://press.georgetown.edu/book/georgetown/careers-international-affairs#_ga=1.29401209.754665725.1442231035
  2. APSIA. Featuring profiles of over 60 member schools, admissions events, and career resources, APSIA is a great first step on your admissions journey. http://www.apsia.org
  3. NAASPA. A great search tool that uses your potential specialisation and interests to suggest schools. http://www.naspaa.org

Posted by Faye