Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Preparing to Apply to B-School? Learn The 7 Steps to MBA Acceptance

Register for the Webinar: 7 Steps to MBA Acceptance

Every year, we speak with applicants who’ve started too late in the application process and shortchanged themselves (starting your essays a week before the deadline is not usually a recipe for success). An MBA is a serious investment in your future – and approaching the process seriously and strategically can mean the difference between an acceptance at your top-choice program and either facing an expensive and stressful reapplication process or, worse, settling for a program that isn’t right for you.

We believe in starting the application process well-informed and with a strategic mindset. That’s why we’ve created a free one-hour webinar, 7 Steps to MBA Acceptance in 2019. In this webinar, Accepted’s founder, Linda Abraham, will guide you through an action plan for the next few months – before applications come out. What can you be doing now to improve your application next fall?

The webinar is free, but you must reserve your space.

Register Now:


Accepted | Helping applicants like you apply confidently and successfully for over 20 years. <<Get Accepted!>>


The post Preparing to Apply to B-School? Learn The 7 Steps to MBA Acceptance appeared first on Accepted Admissions Blog.

from Accepted Admissions Blog

Optimize Your Graduate School Application: Grades, Scores, Essays, Resume, Activity History, and More [Episode 247]

Podcast Episode with Linda Abraham on How to Optimize Your Graduate School Application

This show was triggered by a question asked on a recent webinar that I gave when a member of the audience, Glenn, asked “Are there any podcasts or resources that focus specifically on rounding out the application – recommendations, extra-curriculars, etc.”

There aren’t. I decided to create one, and this is it. We’re going to discuss different elements, why they are important in graduate admissions, and what you can do to make sure you provide admissions committees with what they want.

Grades [2:13]

A school’s class profile gives a good idea of averages and what schools would like to see. If your grades are above the average, great! If they are below the average, you will need to work harder to gain admission.

Grades are important because past performance predicts future performance. This is a fundamental premise of admissions. Schools want to know you have the ability and self-discipline to excel in a demanding academic environment. If you want to go to a top program with great grades and you excelled in a tough program in the past, you are providing evidence that you can thrive in a new environment. If your grades don’t provide that confidence, you need to provide context as to why your grades don’t reflect your ability, or you need to take classes now, get strong grades now, and show that you now have the discipline and raw intelligence to perform. I go into much more detail in Podcast 137, 5 A’s for Your Low GPA.

Test Scores [4:02]

Test scores provide a common standard – everyone takes the same test – whereas individual schools’ grading standards can vary enormously. While test scores don’t show the ability to apply oneself in a demanding academic environment, they do measure raw aptitude and are highly predictive of success in specific graduate programs. In addition, test scores have some secondary purposes. When published, they impress alumni, applicants, and recruiters — and US News. Because of these non-official purposes, they can tend to take on outsize importance.

Essays [6:00]

The primary purpose of the essays is threefold, and you can think of it in terms of the acronym PAD:

P: Provide a window into the real you. They want to meet you, see that you would fit in, that there isn’t a jerk factor, and that you share their values and mission.

A: Add value to the other elements of the application. Your grades, resume, test scores, recommendations, etc., are all parts of the puzzle that portray an image of you. The job of the personal statement is to show you as a human being. You don’t want to duplicate what you do in other parts of the application. And if possible you want to steer clear of technical examples. Rather for most graduate degrees, but not all, focus more on motivation, interpersonal or leadership examples, and the impact you intend to have once you earn your degree.

D: Demonstrate your communications ability. Schools, especially business schools, are more and more are asking for videos – I think this will become increasingly common. For most programs, though, writing is the only way to gauge how well you communicate until they invite you for an interview.

Your writing needs to be clear, well written, correct, and not full of sloppy or silly errors, because otherwise they will believe you will be muddled, unclear, and sloppy.

The essays also allow you to show fit with the school. Programs have different flavors, and while programs offering the same degree are similar on some level, there are going to be nuances, strengths, and weaknesses, and the essays are a great place for you to show fit with the school’s strengths and culture.

Resume/CV [9:45]

The resume provides a summary of your career to date and a snapshot of your career progression, which is critical for MBAs or any post-experience program.

Medical schools will want to see if you took a gap year(s), and what you did during that time. Research is nice to have for med school but not required unless you are applying to a research-oriented program or want an MD/PhD. Clinical exposure is a must. Teamwork is important.

If you are a non-traditional applicant perhaps coming from another career, you will want to highlight aspects of your career that are particularly relevant for medicine. For example, if you are a computer developer, you presumably have learned how to think very logically while troubleshooting and diagnosing computer problems. You can use those skills and transfer them to medicine. If you are a teacher you can explain complex concepts to students, and you can transfer that skill to explaining complex concepts to patients. Essays and written portions of the application or interviews are great places to make the connection between what you’ve done in the past and what you want to do in the future if it’s not obvious.

For academic research programs, research is mandatory, as it’s part of the job.

In any field, schools want to see you have a realistic expectation of what the work in the program and beyond the program involves. This expectation is a good thing – it’s a safety mechanism to protect you from spending tens of thousands of dollars and years of your life on a mistake.

The basic idea is that your resume and past experience should show affinity for your chosen career and field of study, and the admissions committee should be able to look at what you have done in the past, combine it with the education they are going to provide you and see how the combination will help you achieve your goals.

Letters of Recommendation [12:56]

Almost all programs require them, some two, some one, some three or more. Letters of recommendation are important because the school you are applying to gets a third party opinion on your candidacy. This third party perspective is what they are looking for. It can be problematic if a recommender says they are swamped and want you to write the letter, because it means the school isn’t getting a truly valid letter of recommendation. Sometimes admissions committee readers can tell if a letter has been written by the applicant because of the writing style. And they know they are not getting that new perspective.

To prevent this from happening to you, I suggest that 6-8 weeks before you want the letter written you present your recommender with a 1-2 page summary of things you have done that they should be aware of and the characteristics/values of the particular program you are applying to.

Community service AKA extra-curriculars [15:06]

Community service and extra-curricular activities can show a lot of different qualities. For medicine, it shows a commitment to service, which is something med schools really value since the essence of medicine is service. For business, leadership opportunities may not exist early in one’s professional career, so a volunteer role may provide that. For all areas, it can show an affinity with the field you’re entering. For example, if you’ve worked at a legal clinic and are applying to law school, it’s great experience. If you are applying for a Master of Accounting and have worked in tax prep, you know what you’re getting into.

Community service also reveals a multi-dimensionality that enriches the educational environment and complements expertise in your area of study. For example, if you are applying to med school and volunteered at a soup kitchen, as a doctor you will most likely again work with underserved populations, so that experience will help you know what you’re getting into. For business, extra-curriculars demonstrate a commitment to community, and that you’re not just buried in investment banking or in a management consulting firms working with elites. You care about society and outreach to society. Your experience will enrich the classroom environment, whatever degree you are going after.

If you don’t have any community service experience, start as soon as possible. Even a few months of community service is better than none, and you never know, you might have to reapply and then the time becomes 1-2 years, so the experience is richer and the commitment stronger.

Addenda/Optional Essays [18:54]

These are used frequently to address employment gaps or weaknesses like a dip in grades one semester. Take advantage of these – don’t let the admissions committee try and guess why a negative happened. Tell them. Some optional essays allow you not just to explain weaknesses but to add something you’d like the admissions committee to know. Use it if you have something worthwhile to add, like an experience that helps you show fit. Again, refer to episode 137 for ideas on providing context for a dip in grades.

Video [20:06]

These are becoming more common on MBA applications and I feel they will become more common with other graduate applications as well. They exist to assess presence and poise (before issuing an interview invitation), as well as your ability to think on your feet. For business schools, videos also help schools to understand how you will present yourself to recruiters, who are increasingly using videos as a screening tool.

I’ve hit the high points of most applications. If there are other elements of the application that you want me to address, please ask in the comments at accepted.com/247.

I hope you now see that your grad school application is like a jigsaw puzzle where all pieces should interlock, and when assembled, present an impressive picture of you. Each element has a role to play, a piece to add to the puzzle that is you.  

And Glenn, wherever you are, I hope I’ve answered your question.

Click here to listen to the show!

Related Links:

Fitting In & Standing Out: The Paradox at the Heart of Admissions, a free guide
Round 3 vs Next Year: When should You Apply?, a recorded webinar
10 Tips for Writing Letters of Recommendation
What if the President of the United States Wrote Your Letter of Recommendation?
Create a Winning AMCAS Application , a recorded webinar

Related Shows:

Your Past Doesn’t Define You
5 A’s for Your Low GPA
Focus on Fit
Stand Out! A Critical Goal for Your Application


Listen to Stitcher    Subscribe on Android

Download our free report: GET YOUR GAME ON: Preparing for Your Grad School Application

The post Optimize Your Graduate School Application: Grades, Scores, Essays, Resume, Activity History, and More [Episode 247] appeared first on Accepted Admissions Blog.

from Accepted Admissions Blog

5 Items That Make Any Hotel Room Feel Like Home

Monday, February 19, 2018

A PA’s Positive Outlook: If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again

PA Jazmine Kwong Western University of Health Sciences

PA Jazmine Kwong Western University of Health Sciences

This interview is the latest in an Accepted blog series featuring interviews with medical school applicants and students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top medical schools and the med school application process. And now, introducing Jazmine Kwong…

Accepted: We’d like to get to know you! Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? When did you graduate?

Jazmine: I’m from Southern California and went to USC (University of Southern California) in LA. I graduated in 2014 with a Neuroscience degree.

Accepted: Where are you currently attending PA school? What year are you?

Jazmine: I’m attending PA school at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, CA. I’m a first-year PA student!

Accepted: Why PA school? Did you always want to be in the medical field?

Jazmine: I was pre-med up until my third year in college and I switched to PA when I shadowed an Ortho PA. I shadowed MDs and NPs after that and felt the PA profession fit me best!

Accepted: Did you experience any challenges on your journey to PA acceptance? How did you overcome them?

Jazmine: I applied three times and it was very hard to handle rejection. I had to remind myself how much I wanted to become a PA and that everything happens for a reason. I have a great support system and had to constantly remind myself that it’s not a matter of IF I’ll get into PA school, it’s a matter of WHEN I’ll get there!

Accepted: What has been the biggest challenge for you in PA school thus far?

Jazmine: Getting into the groove of things and figuring out what works for me. I was told that what worked for you in undergrad, would not work for you in graduate school. I had anxiety trying to figure out my study methods and what worked for me. Ultimately, I learn and study the same way I did in undergrad!

Accepted: What inspired you to want to share your journey with others? Has this helped you find some balance in your life?

Jazmine: I know what it feels like to be rejected time and time again and I understand the emotional roller coaster this process inflicts on an applicant. It was difficult for me to find resources when I was applying and I wanted more help and insight. I want to be that person for applicants now, or at least steer them in the right direction! Sharing my experience has made me very grateful for where I am today. I constantly reflect on what I did three to two years ago. When I’m not studying, I’m replying back to current pre-PAs and updating my Instagram with helpful tips and tricks. It definitely creates balance in my life!

Accepted: If you could tell PA applicants anything, what would you tell them?

Jazmine: Keep going and do your best. Reach out for guidance and ask questions. Let the fire inside you burn brighter than the fire around you. You got this!

Accepted: Lastly, what are your dreams for yourself and your career after PA school?

Jazmine: I hope to be established in a hospital or a private clinic! As of right now, I love surgery and more specifically, neurosurgery. I cannot wait for rotations next year to see what I’ll enjoy!

You can continue following Jazmine’s story on Instagram (@jazminek_pa) and on her blog www.jazminek-pa.com. Thank you Jazmine for sharing your story with us, we wish you much success!

For one-on-one guidance on your med school applications, check out our catalog of med school admissions services.

Do you want to be featured in Accepted’s blog? If you want to share your med school journey with the world (or at least with our readers), email us at bloggers@accepted.com.

10 Tips for Acceptance to a PA program - download your cheat sheet today!

Accepted | Helping applicants like you apply confidently and successfully for over 20 years. <<Get Accepted!>>


Related Resources:

The Quick Guide to Admissions Resumes, a free guide
Andrea Benedict: Life as a Physician Assistant, a podcast episode
• 5 More Tips to Help You Become a Physician Assistant

The post A PA’s Positive Outlook: If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again appeared first on Accepted Admissions Blog.

from Accepted Admissions Blog

Ace the EMBA: Expert Advice for the Rising Executive #1 The Expanded Executive MBA Profile

Ace the EMBA: Expert Advice For The Rising Executive - #1 The Expanded Executive MBA Profile

This is the first post in our Ace the EMBA series on how to apply successfully to a top executive MBA program. 

The Executive MBA profile has changed over the past decade. Allen, a hypothetical candidate described below, represents the traditional EMBA candidate, which is still highly desirable to EMBA programs. Lucia, another hypothetical candidate, also described below, represents a profile that is not uncommon now, as does hypothetical Kareem.  Most important, no longer does Allen reflect the “choice” candidate. Today’s EMBA programs actively seek a wide range of applicants – not just diverse geographic, functional, and industry backgrounds, but also diverse organizational cultures and career pathways (e.g.: Serial entrepreneur? Engaged in public-private partnerships? From industry to consulting or vice versa?). The remaining common denominator is extensive management experience and/or imminent advancement into senior management. Even the meaning of “management experience” may vary now – for example, in matrix organizations and project-oriented careers, the conventional “direct report” concept may be irrelevant.

1. At thirty-five years old, Allen has worked professionally for thirteen years, the last eight as a marketing manager in increasingly strategic positions. He is now Director of Marketing and Strategy for his Fortune 1000 company’s new product line. His record of advancement is impressive for someone in his industry, pharmaceuticals, where people of his age are usually a few rungs lower and where some of his peers have MBAs. Allen’s next move will be to a senior management role, and he feels that without a sophisticated management skill set, he will be unable to contribute to his maximum ability as an executive. Knowing that this skill set is exactly what EMBA programs are created to provide, he discusses pursuing an EMBA with his boss. Allen’s company, eager to retain him and groom him for a senior position, will sponsor the time requirement of his Executive MBA studies, and one-third of the cost.

2. After working for a year after college as a technology consultant, Lucia started consulting independently. Initially she provided IT guidance to her local school district as part of a community volunteer program. During this initiative she realized that the public education sector offered unique opportunities as well as challenges in mastering the complex bureaucratic, budgeting, and political maze, and she decided to develop a part-time independent business providing IT consulting to the public education sector, on top of her “day job.” It turned out to be a lucrative and interesting niche, and within one more year, Lucia had enough business to leave her employer and set up her own consulting business full time. Eight years later, she has seven employees, grosses over $12M in sales annually, and has broadened her service to private schools. At this level, she can barely manage the business. To grow further, Lucia needs to streamline and stabilize her organizational infrastructure while developing a solid five-year growth strategy. She is more than willing to pay for her EMBA at a top program, viewing it as a necessary investment for growth.

3. Kareem has been an architect of some of the top products at a global technology firm. He has led numerous high-profile project teams and interacted with senior technologists and executives at Fortune 100 customers – even participated in some key product decisions. Increasingly he has felt that becoming a senior manager would allow him to best utilize the combined market and technology know-how he has accrued, and his employer and does not want to lose one of its stars. Hence, the company has agreed that Kareem will transition to the business side to manage a new product line he has championed, a role that will include P&L responsibility. Kareem decides to pursue an EMBA as the best way to prepare for his imminent senior management role. He will pay the tuition, and his company will accommodate the schedule.

These three candidates now face the challenge of applying to EMBA programs. First, they must select the programs they want to target from an increasingly large and multifaceted selection. Then, although they are all strong applicants, they still must distinguish themselves through their application essays. In this series, we will explore the changing EMBA options and how to choose among them, and then address the roll-up-the-shirtsleeves part of the process: developing effective essays.

Do you need help applying to your target Executive MBA programs, efficiently and successfully? Work one-on-one with an EMBA admissions expert for comprehensive application assistance. It’s time to get you ACCEPTED! View our EMBA services here.

Ace the EMBA - Download today!

Cindy Tokumitsu has advised hundreds of successful applicants, helping them gain acceptance to top MBA and EMBA programs in her 15+ years with Accepted. She would love to help you too. Want Cindy to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!


Related Resources:

Top Executive MBA Essay Questions: How to Answer Them Right, a free guide
Excellent Executive MBA Admissions Advice, a podcast episode
• The MBA Family Tree: A Roundup & Overview of Different MBA/EMBA Options

The post Ace the EMBA: Expert Advice for the Rising Executive #1 The Expanded Executive MBA Profile appeared first on Accepted Admissions Blog.

from Accepted Admissions Blog

USC Marshall MBA Application Essay Tips & Deadlines

USC Marshall 2017-18 MBA Application Essay Tips & Deadlines

Along with academic excellence, the USC Marshall MBA program is characterized by a powerful global network with special emphasis on the Pacific Rim, a close-knit and passionate community, and a strong regional presence. Your essays should show how you will both fit in and contribute in this dynamic environment, and the questions provide interesting opportunities to do so. Taken together, the questions indicate that the adcom wants to see a clear, practical career focus, and also wants to get to know the person behind those goals.


Essay #1 (Required): What is your specific, immediate short-term career goal upon completion of your MBA? Please include an intended position, function, and industry in your response. (100 word maximum)

The question specifies the information to include in the essay. Although only 100 words, it is deemed an “essay” by the adcom, and that means you should do more than provide facts. An essay moves – it goes somewhere, it has a starting point and ending point. And you will have room for a little more than the bare facts, so compose your answer in a way that includes some motivation or vision for your short-term career goal; clarify what animates it. It may be just a sentence, even a phrase. But it can make all the difference. It will make this short piece of writing an essay – and will engage the reader.

Essay #2 (Required): Please respond to ONLY ONE of the following essay topics. (500 word maximum)

1. Please describe the contributions you expect to make to your classmates outside of the classroom during your time at USC.

2. You have been asked to design a course to be taught at the Marshall School of Business. Please provide a title and description for the course.

3. What has been the most interesting day or moment in your life and why?

4. You have been hired by the Marshall MBA Admissions Committee to create an essay question for next year’s application. Please state the question and answer it.

Which question should you choose? They all require you to reveal and share something of yourself – your perspective, what you value. Three of the four questions directly engage your understanding of Marshall’s program and/or culture. That fact doesn’t mean that question 3, which lacks direct mention of Marshall, is therefore a less desirable selection, but it does imply that the adcom really cares about your sense of engagement with the program. Therefore, you might find a way to weave that in if you choose question 3.

On one hand, question 3 is the easiest to answer, because you could simply narrate the story behind the interesting day/moment and conclude with a brief reflection about why it was “most interesting.” The question literally asks for a story. If you choose one of the other questions, you’ll have to work a little harder to bring in your experiences – but I strongly suggest using your experience as the basis for any of these essays.

For essay 1, the contributions should be based on actual experiences and the insights or perspective gained from them. For question 2, use some aspect of your experiences to inform the topic and/or design of your proposed course. For question 4, similarly, use your experience as the basis for the question and answer.

Why do I repeatedly recommend using your experience? Presenting concrete anecdotes and examples will allow the adcom to get to know you, and real life lends credibility to whatever you say. After all, anybody can just “talk,” but it takes a mature, confident, focused individual to derive meaning from their experience and express it effectively to the target audience.

Essay #3 (Optional): Please provide any additional information that will enhance our understanding of your candidacy for the program. (250 word maximum)

This question allows you to both discuss points that will enhance your application and explain anything that needs explaining (e.g., gap in employment, choice of recommender, a dip in grades). For the former, if you ask the adcom to read additional material, make sure that it truly illuminates and is germane to your candidacy.

If you would like professional guidance with your USC Marshall application, consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the USC Marshall application.

USC Marshall 2018 Remaining MBA Application Deadlines:

USC Marshall 2018 Application Deadlines

** USC Marshall will continue to accept applications after April 15, 2018. Applications received after this date will be considered on a first-come, first-served and space-available basis.

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

Top MBA Program Essay Questions: How to Answer them right!

Cindy Tokumitsu has advised hundreds of successful applicants, helping them gain acceptance to top MBA and EMBA programs in her 15+ years with Accepted. She would love to help you too. Want Cindy to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!


Related Resources:

Why MBA, a free guide
3 Tips for Showing Strengths in Your Application Essays
Optional Essays: When and How to Write Them

The post USC Marshall MBA Application Essay Tips & Deadlines appeared first on Accepted Admissions Blog.

from Accepted Admissions Blog

Sunday, February 18, 2018

What Makes 401(k) Loans Risky?

Congress has decreed that people should have more time to pay back their 401(k) loans if they lose or leave their jobs. That extension isn’t enough to make 401(k) loans safe, though. You’re still risking your retirement security every time you take money out of your plan. Loans from 401(k)s are certainly popular. People can...

from NerdWallet