mbaMission Senior Consultants are often featured in the press as experts on the MBA application process.
Here is a selection of articles that feature members of the mbaMission team.
Typically, top MBA programs start to release their essay questions on or around May 1, and that is when the proverbial starting gun is fired for a marathon with thousands of hopeful “runners” all striving to get into their dream schools. What are some of the key factors that will shape the 2016—2017 admissions race?
In this article on Poets & Quants, mbaMission President and Founder Jeremy Shinewald identifies six key factors that will impact MBA admissions in 2016—2017.
Harvard Business School (HBS) has announced that it has a new essay question for those aspiring to be part of its Class of 2018 and that writing an essay is now mandatory. Apparently, though, no one considered last year’s essay option, because HBS Director of Admissions Dee Leopold reported in a recent blog post that every single applicant submitted one.
In this article on Poets & Quants, mbaMission President and Founder Jeremy Shinewald shares mbaMission's top five tips for what to do when approaching this question.
With more emerging MBAs eyeing careers in Silicon Valley, with digital start-ups, and at tech giants, Harvard Business School (HBS) may not be able to rely simply on the prestige of its brand to remain a top program choice. An article in the Wall Street Journal [Note: Subscription required to view entire article.] asks whether HBS may be too traditional in its approach.
Many faculty, students, and administrators at HBS worry that the program’s curriculum no longer adequately prepares its graduates for a rapidly changing business landscape that values tech-savvy managers. According to the article, prospective MBAs with an interest in tech are turning to such other top-ranked schools as the Stanford Graduate School of Business and MIT Sloan, which in recent years have staked a claim as “pre-eminent tech-industry feeders.”
The WSJ asked mbaMission President and Founder Jeremy Shinewald for his thoughts on the trend. “As more M.B.A.s seek careers in tech, applicants with such aspirations are now thinking Silicon Valley rather than Boston,” Shinewald commented. “Of the small number of people who win admission to both HBS and Stanford, tech-minded candidates generally opt for Stanford.”
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article—which quotes mbaMission’s own Founder/President Jeremy Shinewald—MBA program applicants from China and India have been attaining higher scores on the GMAT than test takers from the United States.
The article, titled “On B-School Test, Americans Fail to Measure Up,” explains that Asia-Pacific MBA hopefuls have exhibited advanced proficiency as of late on the Quantitative section of the GMAT—causing median scores to rise and Americans’ results to appear less than stellar by comparison. For this reason, admissions officers for various programs are now seeking new methods by which to judge applicant strength. According to Shinewald, U.S. candidates are “banging their heads the wall” and test score inadequacy is “causing a ton of student anxiety.”
Highlighting the “shadow budget” of additional travel expenses that can often accompany an already expensive business degree, the New York Times asked mbaMission President/Founder Jeremy Shinewald just how much MBA students should expect to invest in “lifestyle experiences.” Bonding with classmates on international excursions and keeping active with the seemingly limitless social functions of MBA student life have become increasingly vital to one’s induction into the business school network. Many students say that socioeconomics can play a decisive role in how much time they spend with one another.
“My father went to business school a generation ago as a married 25-year-old, and I can assure you he has no stories of jetting off to Vegas for the weekend,” says Shinewald in the article, noting that bars, parties and trips now occupy a significant portion of the average MBA student’s schedule. “I would say that $5,000 total for two years is a low to moderate budget, but is one that would still allow a student to experience significant social and academic opportunities.” The high-end budget for such expenses, Shinewald explains, can run as much as $20,000 to $30,000 for two years. Still, many students see the investment in social and travel opportunities as part and parcel of buying into an invaluable business network.
The Wall Street Journal offers insight into the rising popularity of the GRE among business school applicants, suggesting that the exam may help business schools attract students from outside disciplines. While the GMAT has historically reigned supreme among MBA entrance exams, many schools are seeing a spike in the number of applicants who are submitting GRE scores. Although only 10% of all exam-taking MBA hopefuls sat for the GRE last year, this figure represents a 10% increase over the same period the year prior, according to data from the Educational Testing Service. The jump in GRE-takers may reflect “the GMAT’s loosening stronghold on the industry,” in addition to “applicants’ anxiety about that assessment’s ‘integrated reasoning’ section.’”
Nonetheless, many applicants remain ambivalent toward the GRE. mbaMission President and Founder Jeremy Shinewald is cited in the article, explaining that applicants may have difficulty discerning how seriously they should take the GRE and how to size up their scores. “It’s maddening. You can say it until you’re blue in the face, and for whatever reason, some people will never believe that the GRE is equal [to the GMAT].”
With a 12% drop in application volume over the last four years (a 5.8% drop in the past year alone), is the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School losing its luster? A Wall Street Journal article quotes mbaMission founder and president, Jeremy Shinewald, speaking to the apparent decline in Wharton applicants: “We’re hearing [applicants say] Stanford, Harvard or nothing. It used to be Stanford or Wharton.” Following the financial crisis, some experts claim that Wharton—often pigeonholed as a finance school—“didn’t react aggressively enough when the spigot of finance jobs was turned off.” Others have cited the frequent turnover of admissions directors at the school and questioned whether adding a group discussion component to the application process has intimidated would-be applicants. In defense, Ankur Kumar, Wharton’s director of MBA admissions and financial aid, says, “Our focus is on the quality of our applicant population, and that remains as high as ever.” Wharton has responded to the downslide by scaling up its efforts to appeal to applicants interested in industries beyond finance, such as entrepreneurship, retail, and real estate. Despite receiving fewer applications, Wharton’s average GMAT score actually rose to a record 725 this year—perhaps suggesting that, even if the school has lost some of its luster, its selectivity remains intact.
An article in The Financial Times asks a question that will no doubt weigh on anyone feeling daunted by the business school application process: “Do admissions consultants give applicants an edge, or is it better to save the money and go it alone?” In answering this, one must remember that not all consulting firms are equal.
While Dan Bauer at MBA Exchange estimates between 20 and 25 MBA admissions consulting firms globally, the article cites mbaMission’s own president and founder, Jeremy Shinewald, as counting just five or six “true firms,” capable of delivering real value for the investment. Many consultants can claim experience and credentials with regard to their understanding of the admissions process, but as the article notes, consultants must also stay current with admissions trends. For this reason, the expertise offered by mbaMission is supported by an annual consultant training conference, weekly team meetings, and full-time team members dedicated to finding the latest insights and information each admissions season.
To help interpret the changes to the 2013-2014 Harvard Business School application essays, the Wall Street Journal asked mbaMission founder and president Jeremy Shinewald to weigh in on possible motivations. While eliminating the essay may lighten the load for applicants, Shinewald says that these changes could also make the process easier on the admissions end of things: “By cutting a few hundred words from a few thousand applications, schools can evaluate candidates more quickly. … It may also be a sign that schools are adapting to the way applicants communicate these days, relying more on Tweets, emails and blog posts than on long correspondence.”
mbaMission’s own Senior Consultant Rachel Beck was featured prominently in an article published in the Chicago Tribune. Titled “Make It Your Business to Save Money,” the article weighed the costs and possible career benefits of investing in an MBA program, identifying important variables that applicants ought to examine carefully. Beck emphasizes the importance of finding the right school to fit your career goals, rather than focusing too narrowly on rankings. “A lot of MBA applicants don’t look at the whole picture. There are all these other factors that should go into your decision making,” Beck notes, adding that location, add-on opportunities and associated costs (such as studying abroad) and opportunities to socialize within a robust student and alumni network should all fall within an applicant’s range of considerations.
mbaMission founder and president Jeremy Shinewald was quoted in a Wall Street Journal article, discussing the evolution of the admissions process at top MBA programs. As admissions officers strive to see the unvarnished applicant—through impromptu post-interview reflections at Harvard Business School (HBS) or team-based discussions at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School—are they hurting those who are naturally polished? HBS, in particular, has gone to great lengths to communicate that it wants candidates’ post-interview reflections to be “raw.” As Shinewald told the Wall Street Journal, “HBS may ironically have people rewriting to make their reflections ‘better’ by being ‘worse.’”
Certainly, nothing is wrong with the quest for the unvarnished applicant, but applicants also should not fear putting their best forward. mbaMission’s group mock interview simulation, which was mentioned in the article and developed to help applicants manage the Wharton Team-Based Discussion, was not designed to give participants the “right” answers. Although participants receive feedback to identify any red flags, the primary purpose of the simulation is to help candidates feel more at ease when the real thing comes to pass. One can still be him/herself and be prepared.
Ever since the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School introduced a new team-based discussion component to its MBA admissions process, many applicants have been uncertain about what to expect should they have the opportunity to interview at the school. Poets & Quants featured mbaMission’s offerings in its examination of options for candidates hoping to assuage their anxieties about this stressful element of the application process. mbaMission gives applicants the opportunity to participate anonymously with three to five others in a simulation moderated by two of our professional MBA admissions consultants. All participants then get individualized feedback on their performance.
mbaMission’s own Angela Guido is quoted in the article, showcasing the value that clients have found in being able to run through a practice discussion: “Across the board, people have said it boosted my confidence and comfort in the real thing. A lot of people have also told us that what it helped them to do is think about their role in the group so that they went in with at least a few ideas of how they would orient themselves to the group. It’s not about the information. It’s about how they communicate their ideas and what happens in the 39 minutes after the introduction when they are thrown in the deep water and have to swim. Having a plan of how to help move the groups forward while not stepping on people’s toes gave them a greater sense of security.”
mbaMission Founder and President Jeremy Shinewald sat down with Keith Vaughn, assistant dean of MBA admissions at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, Dawna Levenson, associate director of admissions at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and Amanda Carlson, assistant dean of admissions at Columbia Business School, for a roundtable discussion with the Wall Street Journal. This quartet of admissions experts discussed what business schools are really looking for in candidates, specifically exploring how the applicant pool has changed, how nontraditional candidates can stand out and how business schools and admissions consultants interact. It was particularly gratifying to hear Levenson’s comment, “I see you [Mr. Shinewald] as an advocate for us.”
Have you used an admissions consultant to help you with your MBA application? Seems like a relatively harmless question, right? Well, that depends on who asks it. Jeremy Shinewald, president and founder of mbaMission, tells Poets & Quants that he believes the number of applicants who report to business schools that they used an admissions consultant for help with their application is because they fear that doing so would negatively affect the school’s admission decision. Schools that ask the question, such as Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, have said that the answer would not be factored into the admissions process and that they only use the question for data purposes.
Jeremy Shinewald, president and founder of mbaMission, talks to the Wall Street Journal about the MBA application process, addressing the value of application essays, the reasons top schools stand out, the most common concerns applicants face and the fact that the GMAT is only one aspect of the larger application process.
Harvard Business School’s incoming Class of 2013 will have a higher percentage of students with manufacturing and technology backgrounds, and fewer students with finance backgrounds. mbaMission Founder and President Jeremy Shinewald told the Wall Street Journal that some candidates erroneously try to “game” the admissions system. “You’re going to see guys who worked on one private-equity deal with an auto manufacturer try to play up their auto experience and look ridiculous,” he says. “Candidates buy into stereotypes for their target schools and become things they think the school wants.” As candidates examine the stats, they should keep in mind that they can only be who they are and that they cannot go back in time and change careers. So, they are best creating an authentic picture of themselves in an attempt to set themselves apart from all others (not just those in their field).
Crafting an intricate admissions essay is perhaps the most daunting part of applying to business school. Applicants should not sit down to write without direction, so U.S. News asked Jeremy Shinewald, founder and president of the business school admissions consulting firm mbaMission and graduate of the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, to offer insight on how to write a piece that will set you apart from the competition.
MBA admissions counseling has become so common that there are now as many as 300 firms around the world with more than 500 consultants helping applicants get into the best business schools. This article lists six of the leading players, including mbaMission, which together employ a total of some 120 consultants.
Business schools are becoming more accepting of MBA admissions consultants, like mbaMission. Poets & Quants estimates that one-quarter to one-third of applicants to the top ten business schools now use consulting services. Open dialogue helped reinvent the relationship, but so did consultants’ extensive reach on the Internet. According to a survey by AIGAC last year, consultants’ sites now rank third behind school Web sites and the Bloomberg Businessweek rankings as a source of information for MBA aspirants. “[Schools] can use us as a marketing tool to reach more people than they would going out on the road,” says mbaMission founder Jeremy Shinewald. “We’re part of the communication channel for them in a way that’s very cheap and easy.” mbaMission serves up “exclusive” interviews with admissions directors from the country’s top schools, and its joint newsletter with Manhattan GMAT reaches tens of thousands of inboxes.
As a prospective MBA student, getting denied by your business school of choice can be a disheartening experience. Now what do you do? Reapplying to the same school the following year is a waste of time, right?
Wrong, says Jeremy Shinewald, founder and president of mbaMission, a business school admissions consulting service. People who reapply to MBA programs actually have a similar admittance rate to first-time applicants.
Shinewald points out that MBA admissions committees are driven by self-interest and are looking for the best pool of applicants. Getting rejected simply means that your application did not fit into the top percentile of candidates in that given year.
"If the schools were not willing to let in a re-applicant, they would not waste their time and resources reviewing the applications," said Shinewald.
MBA admissions committee members and admissions consultants will tell you business schools are looking for applicants to participate in activities about which they are truly passionate. This could be anything from playing the guitar in a garage band to running marathons. Your extracurricular activities bring another dimension to your application, says Jeremy Shinewald, president and founder of mbaMission, who adds that those with the best stories to share come by them naturally. People with outrageous activities, such as Shinewald‘s client who took care of exotic animals that had been confiscated while authorities found homes for them in zoos, usually fall into that category. “You can‘t fudge a story like that,” says Shinewald. “That’s why it’s so good.”
The key to finding the right activity for business school—and just for yourself—is simple, really. “Do what you love,” says Shinewald. “And the story will follow.”
Graduate programs typically see an enrollment boost during economic downturns. As Wall Street firms shed tens of thousands of jobs, graduate programs at local schools like NYU and Columbia University have seen a flood of applications.
However, some warn that the credit crisis could make paying for graduate school more difficult as the availability of private loans at low interest rates has shrunk. “Graduate students finance education via the sale of a house or liquidation of investments,” said Jeremy Shinewald, founder of education consultancy mbaMission. “Many people will be reluctant to do so if they are under water. This is going to mean more students will look for loans.”
When you come from an overrepresented group, but you cannot change who you are, how do you make your application stand out in the crowd? Admissions consultant Jeremy Shinewald, the founder of mbaMission, is straightforward with some of his clients, warning them that they are in a “high-risk group that faces strong competition—either because of ethnicity, country of origin, or work history. To demonstrate individuality, Shinewald recommends writing their essay out of chronological order by skipping the traditional introduction and getting right into a unique story that veers away from an all-too-familiar background. “A lot of people can write, ‘When I started as an analyst at Morgan Stanley,’” says Shinewald. “If you were to say ‘Arriving in Minneapolis, I rushed to meet the CFO of Best Buy,’ it‘s a much more gripping way of introducing yourself.”
Jeremy Shinewald’s admissions consulting business can help make your business school application stand out. But beware: his service does not come cheaply—and not all MBA administrators are sold on the idea. “Where we add the most value is in the creative process,” says Shinewald. “A lot of people just aren’t aware of their own stories and what is compelling about their own professional experiences and lives.” In the end, no amount of fancy footwork will get you in the door. “You need to have achieved in all aspects of your life—academic, professional, community and personal—in order to be a strong candidate,” he says. “If you haven’t done that, you can’t get there through creative writing.”
With the stakes so high, it is no wonder that candidates are seeking aid to find the nuggets that make their application distinctive. Because applicants often have similar academic qualifications, consultants emphasize the essay as the best shot at making an impression. “Many candidates don’t understand the depth of stories and experience they possess,” says Jeremy Shinewald, founder of mbaMission. “Brainstorming with us is a way to help them become more aware—but we don’t do the actual writing for them.”