($) Discrimination in admissions, cont’d

Yes it’s true, we have more to discuss about Asians and college admissions (Part 1; Part 2; Part 3). Here’s the thing: When someone claims that they were discriminated against, they’re saying that something happened to them because they are in the minority group. If someone claims that they didn’t get into bschool BECAUSE they’re…

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Just a quick update to the leaderboard

We may have one final quiz coming in the next few days so look out for it!

High Scorer: 10 Points out of 15

Glass5 retains their #1 spot – but they’ve got some competition breathing down their neck!

Putting On the Heat: 9 Points


Still in the running: 8 Points



Bringing Up the Rear of the Front-Runners: 7 Points


And honorable mention goes out to these first-time players who scored 3 out of 3 points!

James M.

If you missed any of the quizzes – you can still catch up!

($) Do bschools have quotas in admissions?

Hope you enjoyed your House of Cards binge this weekend. In our series on “discrimination” in university admissions (Part 1; Part 2) and how it might apply to you, given your own personal demographics, we’ll tackle the most common myth today: Do schools have quotas? No. We’ve never heard of any school to have strict…

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Success Story! Application Musings Part 2 – “Fit, Frame & Faith”

Here’s the wrap-up post containing very practical advice offered by a successful Brave Supplicant – you can catch up with Part 1 on “Fundamentals” if you missed it.

Attending business school is a big decision that deserves a fair amount of primary research. Rankings and guides are a fine place to start, but to really get a feel for a school’s culture, talk to current students and alumni. Evaluate how responsive they are, how enthusiastic they are about the school, and if there’s a broad commonality they share. These are the people that you’re going to be studying with, learning from, traveling with, pounding shots at 2am with, and relying upon in your network for the rest of your career. It pays to get an idea of what they might be like, and what they thought of their MBA experience.

Visiting campus is another effective way to evaluate a school, and one that I’ll admit I didn’t appreciate. For the school I ended up choosing, I participated in a campus tour immediately prior to my on-campus interview partially just to avoid the negative signaling of not doing so (like, who interviews on campus and doesn’t do a tour?). However, the experience was much more compelling than I expected. The campus was impressive. I got a sense of what kind of applicants the school was attracting, and what kind were getting interviews. The most powerful part of the visit though, was experiencing first-hand the personalities and warmth of current students who had volunteered to make the on-campus programming possible. I felt as if I’d found “my people,” and left with a stronger sense that this school was the right fit for me.

In terms of your candidacy, the more data points you gather on school fit and can effectively weave into your application, the better your chances of impressing the adcom. Applicants who are competitive at top MBA programs have very impressive stats, and members of admissions committees have seas of 720+ GMAT scorers at brand-name employers and significant community contributions to wade through. If you can effectively show that you understand what their school’s about, and that you contribute to that mission, they will be that much more likely to give you a shot. In the interests of protecting their yield rates, adcoms also like to see serious applicants who’ve done their homework on the school (and are more likely to matriculate if admitted).

This is an area where a good admissions consultant can be additive. Each school may have a preference for what types of content appear in applicant essays. For example, one school may want mostly hardcore professional achievements, while another school may be more open to your sharing of personal interests. These nuances are not immediately obvious (or very obvious at all), and a good consultant can steer you in the right direction. Showcasing fit can also factor into merit scholarship awards.

Applying to business school is an incredibly stressful experience. For the typical MBA applicant who’s used to driving success and accomplishment through sheer force of will, it can be frightening to undergo a process with such opacity and uncertainty. I mean, you’re submitting a bunch of words to a group of strangers who will judge you and decide if you’re “good enough” to interview or to “reject” you. The lack of control and transparency is very frustrating. Compounding this stress is the fact that a lot of us have fairly demanding jobs and other commitments. I drank a lot of whisky.

It’s important to maintain a healthy attitude and perspective during these trying times. In order to be competitive for a top MBA program, you already have an impressive list of achievements and would do fine even without an MBA. Don’t neglect your health – exercise, eat well, and don’t forget proper sleep hygiene. Build in some buffer in your application timeline so that you can afford to take a weekend or two completely off to maintain your sanity. Don’t forget to express your appreciation to your partner for putting up with the nervous wreck that is you. Reflect on all the hard work you’ve done in order to get to where you are. Don’t forget to be grateful to those who’ve helped you out along the way.

Everything will work out. Yes, I got into a top school…but I was also rejected by three others along the way. (Granted, I didn’t beat myself up too badly about it – these were some of the best programs in the world, all finance-heavy schools on the East Coast. This does drive home a point though: you must diversify your application set – there are no guarantees when it comes to elite MBA admissions.) I was not in a happy place as I stared down the barrel of possibly having to crank out Round 2 apps over Christmas.

Remember that an admit is just one potential step in your journey, and not the endgame. You have accomplished much to get to this point, and will continue to do so. The cream always rises to the top.

Amen brother (or, uh, sister…) – you said it as good as we ever could! Now in hopes that this message will get across to the huddled masses of yearning Brave Supplicants coming across tumultuous seas in a journey towards the promised land this year… :-D

Thanks again for the great advice, and once more, CONGRATULATIONS – not just on the admit but the happy granting of bschool dollars, too! Those will come in handy. You clearly ended up exactly where you should be!!!!

($) Asians and admissions continued

Back to our question that we first posed yesterday: Are Asians discriminated against in college and bschool admissions? We would not phrase it that way, but we certainly understand the perspective. We have no idea of the numbers, but if, say, 30% of your applicant pool (we’re just tossing that figure out there – again,…

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($) Are Asians discriminated against in admissions?

“Discrimination” is a very big word and we have titled this post this way intentionally. From the perspective of an Asian candidate, we totally appreciate that this is how it may seem. That’s the gist of this article in the LA Times recently, about college admissions and how darned competitive it is from certain demographics…

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More GMAT advice

We’ll continue with some GMAT test advice again today. This stuff is important, and we hope you’ll listen.

Very often, we see people coming to us in September, ready to submit their app to a Top 10 school, and they share their profile with us and they took the GMAT back in the Spring and the score was kinda meh. And they had all this time ahead of them but they just settled. And we’re like, “Doh!” And we think to ourselves, “What is UP with that???”

So here we are today, telling you now that settling is NOT a good approach to life.

Not for a girlfriend.

(Or boyfriend.)

Not for a job or apartment.

Definitely not for a GMAT score.

You don’t want to make us say “Doh!” six months from now when you present your essays to us to be decimated and we open up those drafts and sigh (‘cuz everyone’s first drafts suck) and then we look at your entire pitch and your profile and we see that GMAT score from March that’s in the so-so range – a score that, sure, COULD get you in – maybe. But you did it in MARCH and then you crossed that task of the list and totally sat on your duff for the next five months before a spark finally got lit beneath you and you lifted your head off the drool-stained pillow and wiped the lastnightbeerfog out of your eyes and you say, “Hey, maybe I should start writing some essays!”

If you know you could do better on the GMAT then, um, why aren’t you doing better?

And if you’re struggling with the GMAT – we sympathize!! Like, totally! and every other Valley Girl emphatic that we can offer to you.

It is so worth it to spend more time on this task. We get it. Studying is not as fun as watching House of Cards. It’s not as fun as drinking beer. It maybe isn’t even as fun as doing that spreadsheet you have to finish for that important project at work. Studying is for YOU – nobody else. Nobody else is going to force you to study. That’s one reason why it’s hard. You need to come up with your own internal motivation. It’s like eating your broccoli – at first, it’s all yucky with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. But then over time, after you’ve forced yourself to eat it on an (ir)regular basis, eventually you may even start to develop a taste for it.

When you have a routine with studying, it is SOOOOO much easier. When you are inconsistent and sporadic about it, then it is always a massive chore to get yourself motivated to start.

Just like going for a run: The hardest part is putting on your running shoes. Once that’s done, you’re committed. You’re going.

Find a way to “put on your running shoes” with the GMAT prep. If that means signing up for a course, then do that – it’s often a very productive way to get yourself in gear. After all, if you’re PAYING for it, then you’re more likely to follow through on it, right?

Then dive in with it. Embrace the suck, as a wise bschool student once said .

Make it a game.

How high of a score can you get?

Not because there’s some magic admissions success that’s guaranteed to go along with it (though higher scores always help). But because it’s a challenge.

Do well on the GMAT because it’s hard.

Don’t settle for less-than and use “it’s hard” as an excuse.

It’s all about mindset, people.

Are you going to win this or what?