MBA Admissions Advice: Getting the Behind the Scenes Info

cramming

Now that I’ve narrowed down my school selection (see: The Decision) I’ve decided to shift my focus to generating essay ideas while I continue to study for the oh so lovely GMAT. Common themes that I’ve noticed schools ask you to write about have been: short term and long term goals, and most importantly how an MBA from a given program help achieve those goals. An important tip for tackling this type of essay question is using information that goes beyond the school website so my goal for the rest of this month is to gather as much information as I can about the programs I’m applying to and in August start contacting current students and alumni as well as looking for information sessions to attend. If you’re not sure of the essays required for your target schools, GrantMeAdmission has a great comprehensive post for most ranked programs as well as analyses by top consulting firms.

Alumni

Alumni, in my opinion, are the best resource for finding out all that a MBA program has to offer in terms of achieving post MBA career goals. There’s no better advice than from people who have been where you’re trying to get to. I would consider myself to be a rather outgoing and confident person, but in situations like this, at times, I can feel intimidated about expressing my thoughts and ideas to a total stranger because I don’t want to seem dumb or like I’m wasting their time. But I know I would only be hurting myself if I didn’t reach out.

Alumni working in your target post-MBA industry can be especially useful. Websites like LinkedIn are a great place to start in stalking these people. Picking their brains about how a school’s courses, clubs, and career services helped direct them to their desired professional choice is essential essay material as well as noteworthy for conducting your own path to your short term and eventually long term goals.

Current Students

People currently enrolled in a given program are another vital resource for gaining information as they can provide the freshest picture about what’s going on in the program and will more than likely be excited to elaborate on academic and extra curricular experiences they’ve encountered thus far and plan to in the future. Current students, especially those going into their 2nd year this fall, can provide insight of what to expect when attending business school and can offer tips on things they would’ve done differently in the application process and even during their first year. They can also easily be found on LinkedIn, as well as MBA students blogs and the contact page information for leaders of clubs and programs you’re interested in.

Attending On Campus or Off Campus Visits, Coffee Meet and Greets, and MBA Tours

These events are great for being able to speak with adcoms, alumni, current and prospective students all at once. They’re also a great opportunity to tour the campus and surrounding areas and sit in on classes if you are fortunate enough to visit while school is in session. To make the most of these events, it’s important to:

1. Research Research Research
– Don’t you just hate the person that asks the question in class that the teacher LITERALLY just stated the answer to 3 seconds ago.. Yeah don’t be that person. Know as much accessible information about a program beforehand so when the opportunity arises to ask questions, you can focus on the ones relevant to your goals and interests rather than information that can be easily found on the school’s website. It also never hurts to look like an overachiever and express your keen interest in attending a given program. The more excited you are, the more excited people will be in sharing information with you.

2. Know your goals
– This kind of goes in line with #1. Being able to express what you hope to achieve from a certain program will get you feedback on steps of how to get there and show your seriousness and maturity in being ready to apply for the upcoming MBA application season.

3. Bring your business card and updated resume
– Means for being contacted later and you might even be able to receive some immediate feedback on your competitiveness as well as areas of strengths and where improvements are needed

4. Dress to Impress
– No description necessary.

This list is certainly not the end all be all. If you have other tips or recommendations for preparing for information sessions, please share in the comments. In the meantime, I plan on gathering as much information as possible for the rest of July and starting in August, going full stalker mode and emailing the following people like crazy:

– Those working/interning in the pharma/biotech industry
– MBAs with a healthcare concentration
– MBA/MPH (Master of Public Health) dual degree students/alumni
– Younger applicants
– Younger applicants in the healthcare concentration
– Those who applied through the Consortium
– Duke and Texas alum who found opportunities in California

I’ll be sure to share the feedback I receive with you guys.

Also, I came across two pieces of information on Clear Admit’s website called “School Guides” and “School Selection Guides”. The “School Guides” are downloadable comprehensive profiles for each MBA program and the “School Selection Guides” analyze school specific opportunities for gaining experience in certain career tracks. Has anyone purchased these guides, or anything similar? I’m all for knowing as much as possible, but I couldn’t find any reviews of how useful the products are. I’m moreso interested in purchasing the Healthcare school selection guide. Thoughts anyone?

With deadlines coming up, I hope I can start posting more frequently. It’s amazing how much more organized my brain gets after writing one of these. Ciao for now.

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Posted on July 19, 2014, in MBA Admissions Advice and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. This is really good advice. I just spoke to an alumna who gave me behind-the-scenes info on Sloan. I realized that it wasn’t going to be the best fit for me, as a result.
    Talking to alumni/students really makes a difference. They either reinforce you impressions or dispel them. Either way, it’s helpful.

    • That’s great you were able to find that out before spending money on visiting and applying and such!! But I’m sorry Sloan’s not going to be a good fit for you. What didn’t you like if you dont mind me asking??

      But yes, everything you just said reinforces why I want to make sure I talk to as many alumni/students as possible. They can tell you so much more than words on a website can. Thanks!

  2. Hi there. Great summary! I bought one of the Clear Admit guides when I had my interview at Wharton (so slightly different to the ones you described). It was OK but by that stage there was very little I didn’t already know about the school, programme or interview process. Still, it’s only a few bucks, right? So buy one and see what you think. I also remember that the guides are sometimes offered free for a special day or something. Maybe you can email them and say you want to review the guides on your blog? What have you got to lose!? 🙂

    • Did not ever think of that last idea! Very clever 😀

    • Wow I never even considered that. Great tip! Thanks.

      Yeah I may buy one and see how much more information it offers that can’t be found on school websites or through talking to students or alumni. I think they’re about $30 a piece which isn’t bad at all. But buying 5 plus all the other expenses I’ll be incurring in the next few months, I wanted to make sure its worth it. The career track one definitely intrigues me though so that might be my first purchase regardless.

    • Clear Admit let me download one of their guide for free when I offered to do a review on my blog. I would definitely reach out to them. Overall, I thought they were pretty good, but like topdogmba said, by the time you get to the interview stage, as long as you have done your homework, they probably won’t be much in there you don’t already know. That being said, it was still a pretty good resource. mbaMission also has school guides, but I would say they on par with Clear Admit. I did think mbaMission’s comprehensive application guide was worth the money.

      • Yes. Clear Admit actually reached out to me shortly after this post about reviewing one of their guides on my blog so I’m excited to look it over and share my thoughts.

        I’ll check out mbaMission as well. Thanks!!

  3. Great tips! Also, I’ve heard that talking to 2nd year students is always best, because the 1st years haven’t had a chance to focus on their core areas of interest yet. I met with a Booth alum from the healthcare industry yesterday! It’s a pity you’re not applying there, because I could have definitely given you her contact information. Good luck with this though!

    • Ahh yeah that would’ve been awesome. If only I wasn’t a baby and could stand the brutal Chicago weather. Thanks anyway though. Is Booth on your list now?

      And yes you’re right! I was referring the 2nd years when I said “current students” but I’ll go back and state it. Thanks for catching that 🙂

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