With regard to the GMAT, raw intellectual horsepower helps, but it is not everything. In this blog series, Manhattan Prep’s Stacey Koprince teaches you how to perform at your best on test day by using some common sense.
If you have only recently started studying for the GMAT (or even if you have been studying for a while!), you are likely annoyed by Data Sufficiency (DS). What is this weird question type, and why do they ask it? More importantly, how do we handle it?
What is Data Sufficiency?
The GMAT really is not a math test. (Neither is the GRE—we will look at a weird GRE quant question type next week.) These tests are actually trying to test us on our “executive reasoning” skills—that is, how well we make decisions and prioritize when faced with too many things to do in too little time.
So, DS questions are really about quickly analyzing a collective set of data and trying to figure out which pieces you need to do the job. Imagine your boss dumping a bunch of stuff on you and saying, “Hey, our client wants to know whether they should raise the price on this product. Can you answer that question from this data? If so, which pieces do we need to prove the case?”
We do, of course, have to do some math—and sometimes that math is quite annoying. We usually do not, however, have to do as much as we usually do on regular “problem solving” questions (the normal Quant questions).
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Many MBA candidates do not thoroughly consider and revise their resumes for their applications, often dismissing this element because an existing version may already be saved on their computer. We strongly caution you not to underestimate the value of this document—the admissions committees, in fact, review applicants’ resumes carefully, because they serve as a road map of each candidate’s career.
In the past, we have highlighted that your resume is not the place to “stuff” all of your life experiences. Somewhere between the two extremes—cramming your resume with information and ignoring it altogether—lies the ideal: a clear, easily scannable, action-/results-oriented resume, one that tells a story that will capture the attention of an admissions officer who has reviewed hundreds of similar files.
One of the most common errors that candidates make is leaving their resume in an industry-specific format, filled with jargon and acronyms recognizable only to an expert in their field. Remember, the admissions committee is not hiring you for a task, but is trying to understand your progress, your accomplishments, and even your character. Each bullet point in your resume needs to highlight achievement more than positional expertise.
As you prepare your resume to be included in your application, think about your audience and recognize that your resume can be a strategic tool to reinforce certain characteristics that are important to you—characteristics that may complement information provided in other parts of your application. For example, if you aspire to a career that is international in nature, you may place more emphasis on your international experience in your resume. Or, if you come from a field that is not known for its management orientation—you were a teacher who administered a school’s $50,000 student activities budget, for example—you may use your resume to emphasize disciplines that are important to an MBA admissions audience.
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For incoming first-year students at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business who want to get a head start on building friendships within their class or make use of some time off before school begins, the M-Trek program may be just the answer. M-Treks, which were first offered in 1999, are small-group, multiday, outdoor adventure trips that take place before the academic year begins. Organized in locations around the world, the trips are entirely student led (by second-year MBA students) and are designed to provide a team-based environment similar to that found at Ross and to promote leadership in a team setting. M-Treks look to be as inclusive as possible—trips are available to suit a wide variety of interests and thus range from hard-core adventure to relaxing sightseeing excursions.
2016 treks included “Not Your Basic Beaches,” during which participants explored private beaches and the countryside of France and Spain, and “Guate Get Down,” which took place in the historic areas of Belize and Guatemala. In 2015, treks ranged from “Edward Fjord-y-Hands,” which featured hiking, kayaking, and mountain biking in Sweden and Norway, to “Best Friends Pho Ever,” where participants boarded a train and explored local food and culture in Vietnam. Other treks in previous years included “Bal-Kan You Handle This!?” (during which students hiked peaks in Montenegro and biked through the Lustica peninsula), “Czech Yoself Before You Wreck Yoself” (an exploration of Vienna and Prague), and “A Taste of Turkey.”
So, whether you are interested in hiking and rafting in Iceland or beaching and snorkeling in Mexico, M-Treks provide a chance to build friendships and develop leadership skills while having a great time.
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MBA applicants can get carried away with rankings. In this series, we profile amazing programs at business schools that are typically ranked outside the top 15.
Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School offers a full-time, 49-credit MBA curriculum that can be completed in just 16 months (August to December) or customized for an extended period of time. Although the core curriculum is very rigid, with foundational management courses spanning the entirety of the program, Mays also offers the option of pursuing certificates and career specializations beyond the 16-month core.
But what really stands out about the Mays program is its dedication to maintaining a strong sense of community. The school’s two cohorts of approximately 40 students each facilitate an intimate classroom setting and personalized attention from faculty and staff.
When you select an MBA program, you are not just choosing your learning environment but are also committing to becoming part of a community. Each Thursday, we offer a window into life “beyond the MBA classroom” at a top business school.
Every spring and fall, students at the University of Virginia (UVA) Darden School of Business take a day to partner with area contractors and builders to help people in the community. Each April, 250–300 volunteers take part in the project and rehabilitate a dozen or more houses in the Charlottesville area for low-income, disabled, and elderly homeowners. And in the fall, 50–80 volunteers help area organizations such as children’s camps and learning centers.
The preparations for “build days” take months. Students involved with the Building Goodness Foundation select the projects, coordinate the suppliers and volunteers, collect the necessary funds, and apply for permits. Since the program’s inception in 1991, Darden students have volunteered thousands of hours of their time, in addition to investing more than $1M in improvements in the area. Each year, the organization hosts a fundraiser auction for the event, where students offer such items up for grabs as a home-cooked meal and a private plane ride to Oktoberfest.
A first year commented in an April 2014 Charlottesville Newsplex article, “A day like today, we all come out in force and do as much as we can to help out [with] little projects around the house,” adding, “To meet some of the people in the community and do something for someone else, it’s a good feeling.”
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In this new addition to our blog, “MBA Career News,” our Career Coaches will offer invaluable advice and industry-related news to help you actively manage your career. Topics include building your network, learning from mistakes and setbacks, perfecting your written communication, and mastering even the toughest interviews. To sign up for a free consultation with one of our mbaMission Career Coaches, click here.
The reasons why many professionals choose to live within or near big cities are evident—New York and San Francisco, for example, are the centers of a plethora of industries, making the career opportunities within grasp endless. However, the steep cost of living and the high level of stress in metropolises make some workers consider leaving them behind for good. How does one’s career sustain such a drastic move? A recent article by Forbes examined the process of moving out of a big city while still maintaining a healthy career, taking into account steps including making compromises, practicing self-reliance, and adjusting one’s priorities.
One couple who chose to relocate to a quieter area ended up reducing their monthly housing costs by 40% by leaving the Bay Area behind. “On the plus side, life is easy here [in Folsom, California],” Nicole Foster, the wife in the aforementioned couple, commented to Forbes. “No traffic or angry drivers, no sad stories of hardworking people struggling to survive in impossible circumstances. […] People are happy!” Indeed, recent studies suggested that those living outside major metropolitan areas are generally happier than those living in big cities.
Many MBA applicants feel that they are purchasing a brand when they choose a business school. However, the educational experience you will have is what is crucial to your future, and no one will affect your education more than your professors. Each Wednesday, we profile a standout professor as identified by students. Today, we profile Barry Nalebuff from the Yale School of Management (SOM).
Perhaps best known as one of the founders of Honest Tea, Barry Nalebuff is the Milton Steinbach Professor of Management at the Yale SOM. An expert in game theory and strategy, Nalebuff has been a professor at the SOM since 1989. A second year told mbaMission that in the classroom, Nalebuff “is a favorite for his sharp wit and insights.” Nalebuff is also an accomplished author with more than 300,000 copies in print. His book The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist’s Guide to Success in Business and Life (W.W. Norton & Co., 2008), for example, explores how almost all interactions—business and personal alike—have a game theory component.
Nalebuff and Adam Brandenburger, a professor of business economics and strategy at NYU’s Stern School of Business, developed the concept of a new business strategy called “co-opetition,” which they write about in a book of the same name: Co-Opetition: A Revolutionary Mindset That Combines Competition and Cooperation: The Game Theory Strategy That’s Changing the Game of Business (Crown Business, 1997). The book’s listing on Amazon.com describes co-opetition as “a business strategy that goes beyond the old rules of competition and cooperation to combine the advantages of both. Co-opetition is a pioneering, high profit means of leveraging business relationships.”
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Mission Admission is a series of MBA admission tips; a new one is posted each Tuesday.
As most business schools have recently released their deadlines for the 2016–2017 season, we thought we would share a piece of advice that might help alleviate some deadline-related stress. After you have completed (but not yet submitted!) your application(s), find one individual you trust—whether a professional consultant or someone with insight into the application process—to read your essays one last time and give you last-minute feedback. However, we strongly suggest that you limit yourself to requesting feedback from just one or two individuals.
Because the application process is subjective, you will discover that as you add readers, you will also add new and different opinions. Soon, a multitude of alternatives might appear, and although none of these varying ideas will necessarily be “right” or “wrong”—considering that a single candidate’s stories can be marketed in almost countless ways—they can create unnecessary uncertainty.
We are not suggesting that you ignore critical feedback, but rather that you not complicate your final days and create doubt where it may not be due. If one or two readers support your ideas and emphasize that your application needs minimal work, you are probably best off ending your feedback loop there and submitting your application.
When you are writing a compelling story, conflict can be a very important element. Of course, we mean conflict in the literary rather than the physical or emotional sense (no one wants to hear about how you hotheadedly instigated a confrontation). In literary terms, conflict occurs at the moment an oppositional force helps shape the central story. So, a narrative that presents you—the candidate and hero of the story—experiencing an effortless ride toward victory would not typically be as interesting or exciting as one in which you suffered some bumps and bruises along the way.
For example, most people would find the story of a rookie challenger beating an experienced marathon runner at the finish line a lot more compelling than the story of a runner who leads the race by a wide margin from beginning to end and never experiences any competition. Although you might not have an anecdote like this in your arsenal, our point is that whether you are telling the story of refining a supply chain, getting a deal done, marketing a new product, or accomplishing any other facet of business, you should identify and share the hurdles you overcame in doing so, because describing a time when you enjoyed a smooth and easy path to success may not allow you to shine as brightly.
Dave Finocchio, Co-Founder of Bleacher Report
Today, many aspiring MBAs and MBA graduates want to join start-ups or launch such companies themselves. Is entrepreneurship as exciting as it seems? Is it really for you? mbaMission Founder Jeremy Shinewald has teamed up with Venture for America and CBS Interactive to launch Smart People Should Build Things: The Venture for America Podcast. Each week, Shinewald interviews another entrepreneur so you can hear the gritty stories of their ups and downs on the road to success.
Launching a company while still in college is nothing new. However, doing so and eventually selling the company for $215M is a pretty rare occurrence! In this podcast episode, Dave Finocchio, the CEO and one of four co-founders of Bleacher Report, shares how he and his college friends struck gold by noticing a lack of interesting and quickly moving sports media coverage. Finocchio’s inspiring story features many fascinating details of his journey to entrepreneurial success, including these:
- How Bleacher Report grew from a wild idea to one of the most notable sports media outlets in the country
- What made Finocchio leave the company for a year to travel, only to return and become its CEO
- Why the process of evolving from a platform to a company forced Bleacher Report to cut its number of writers from 25,000 to a few hundred
Subscribe to the podcast series to be among the first to hear the most intriguing entrepreneurship stories!