There were a number of application changes among the top business schools in the 2018-2019 MBA application season. MIT required an organizational chart; other top programs such as Wharton, Booth and Cornell also changed some of their essay prompts towards behavioral questions. These types of questions prompt applicants to demonstrate self-reflection, which serves to clarify why the next chapter in your life (which is the MBA experience) is so important.
Wharton asks the question – “Describe an impactful experience or accomplishment that is not reflected elsewhere in your application. How will you use what you learned through that experience to contribute to the Wharton community?”
Booth’s application in the past have often included an unorthodox question like pick a picture out of six and explain why it resonates with you. This year’s essay set included the prompt – “Chicago Booth immerses you in a choice-rich environment. How have your interests, leadership experiences, and other passions influenced the choices in your life?”
Cornell Johnson’s new “Back of Your Resume” essay emphasizes that the Admission Committee wants to know you beyond your track record. In fact, Cornell states, “The front page of your resume has given us a sense of your professional experience and accomplishments as well as your academic summary and extracurricular involvement. If the back page reflects “the rest of your story,” please help us get to know you better by sharing the experiences that will give us insight into your character, values, and interests.”
In posing these questions, the Admissions Committee provides opportunities for the applicant to reveal and share more than just his or her job. It provides an opportunity to articulate the events and experiences that have shaped your decisions and identity and how you will impact the community you hope to join. It is difficult to predict what to expect in the 2019-2020 MBA application essay sets but emphasis on self-reflection, on articulating why the MBA chapter is important is likely to continue.
One thing MBA applicants (rightly) hear again and again is how important it is to really get to know your business school, but which ones do the best job of getting to know you as a prospective student? Every year, the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC) surveys MBA applicants on their experiences during the admissions process. Here are the most recent findings:
Its worth keeping this information in mind as you determine your fit with your prospective schools, and also as you consider what you want them to know about you. What are your unique skills and experiences? What value will you add to the class? What makes you stand out among the crowd?
As you narrow down your list of schools, this is a good time to get on the mailing lists to keep up to date with any webinars, coffee chats in your city, or admissions events. The next step would be to reach out to current students and alumni to hear their first-hand experience of the programmes. Finally, if time and finances allow, visiting the school will give you insight into its culture and opportunities.
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