We should trademark this phrase! It’s so useful in capturing a key objective in how you present yourself in your MBA essays — the resume too, for that matter. So what in heck do we mean by this? Obviously what you want to be presenting in your essays especially is evidence of impact. “Impact” and…
(Trigger Warning: We’re talking about ETHICS again today. If that just turns your stomach, click away now.) We’ve walked through our stance on ethics and applying in a school’s binding Early Decision round plenty o’ times before on the blahg. (Which isn’t really “our stance.” It’s more like, “This is how a person of honor…
We last blahgged about bschool deans and changes of leadership back in January 2015 when we talked about Geoffrey Garrett taking over at Wharton in July 2014, Matthew Slaughter taking over at Tuck in July 2015, and Scott Beardsley taking over at Darden in August 2015.
Since then, there has been another round of transitions in the top position at these schools:re
- Stanford’s embattled and scandal-weary Garth Saloner stepped aside and insider Jonathan Levin took over September 2016 (dang was it really that long ago?!)
- Michigan Ross’s dean Alison Davis-Blake resigned and they promoted from within by appointing professor Scott DeRue into the post in June 2016 (ditto the long-ago exclamation!)
- NYU’s well-regarded Peter Henry handed the reins over to Raghu Sundaram in January
- Berkeley-Haas’s beloved Rich Lyons will be stepping down in June and as far as we know, no replacement has been announced.
- Kellogg’s Dean Sally Blount has also announced she’s stepping down at the end of this academic year.
- Cornell Johnson is experiencing some turmoil. They underwent some radical transformation (for an academic institution) in 2016 where they merged three of their graduate schools under the umbrella of one. The Johnson School, where you would go if you were getting an MBA, joined with their world-renowned hospitality school and the Dyson School (economics) under a newly-named College of Business. Their Johnson School dean Soumitra Dutta took over as dean for this merged College of Business entity. But then Dean Dutta suddenly resigned at the end of January. They appointed an interim dean (Joe Thomas), but now it looks like they have promoted the Johnson School (MBA) dean (Mark Nelson) to permanently lead the merged College of Business… but we’ve honestly lost track of the plot.
So to discuss the question posed at the top of this post:
Does the dean matter?
In light of that convoluted web of Cornell confusion we just tried to summarize for you, we’ll have to say, yes it does.
But only to an extent.
We have yet to learn the circumstances around Dean Dutta’s sudden departure from the dean position at Cornell (supposedly he’s still on the faculty, but he’s never taught a class, so it sounds like a case of a golden parachute to us). We do know that the merger into the College of Business was not sold well to internal stakeholders and there were many protests and lots of dissension when it happened. We heard that the hospitality folks especially were unhappy. So as outsiders going on these two datapoints alone, all we can say is that there were issues with the way leadership has been done there. Is that enough to stop you from applying to Cornell? No, it shouldn’t be — but you DEFINITELY should travel to Ithaca and learn what you can from current students and ask direct questions of admissions folks to discover what type of impact there might be. There will still be professors showing up to teach classes and you still will be able to earn an MBA there. But innovate? No, that’s not going to happen. This place is going to be stalled out for the foreseeable future until they get their house in order…. and obviously when a school that’s supposed to be teaching you leadership demonstrates such an epic #leadershipfail then it does call some basic assumptions into question.
So that’s a cautionary tale, and we acknowledge that we don’t have all of the data, mostly because the school itself is playing very hush-hush. If we hear back from our on-the-ground sources we will update this post (or if any of you have actual knowledge of the situation — not more rumors and gossip but concrete facts — then we’d love to hear them!).
On the opposite end of the examples-of-leadership spectrum, we have a separate case:
We just learned yesterday that rockstar dean Ted Snyder will be stepping down from his leadership of Yale SOM next year. Our understanding is that he’s on sabbatical this year, so is already not on campus, and he’ll return to the deanship next year but thereafter will move back to teaching, which is what many deans do when they leave their deanship. Traditionally, deans were academics who started off as PhDs doing research and teaching classes, and eventually took on more and more administrative responsibilities in running their school before getting the top spot. Those people often are academics at heart and they may long to go back to their roots. Stepping down from the leadership position often means staying at the same institution and just moving out of the spotlight to resume a faculty role. Sometimes a dean “stepping down” means that they are resigning from the workforce entirely, or that they’re going to leave that school completely and go somewhere else, but often it means that they’re sticking around and just will no longer be the dean at their campus.
We’re going to make a wild prediction: Dean Snyder may initially take up a faculty role at the SOM but there’s a school that REALLY is overdue for some new blood in the high office and we’re going to place a bet that Ted Snyder eventually ends up at Columbia. This is total guesswork in looking at the graduate school landscape from a complete outsider’s perspective. If there were a school that could benefit from a makeover right now then Columbia is it, and if there were a dean who could do it then Ted Snyder is your man. Columbia’s Glenn Hubbard has been serving as dean since 2004 which by our count makes him the longest-serving dean at any top school. If it ain’t broke, then why fix it, but…….
So does the dean matter?
If you’re Chicago Booth in the first decade of the 21st Century, or Yale SOM in the second, the answer to that is h3ll yeah.
Ted Snyder made Booth into the school that it is (we keep waiting for current leadership to do more) and then after that, Ted Snyder worked his brand of magic again at Yale. Chicago and Yale were both excellent schools before he arrived but his tenure at each respectively made them more than excellent.
MIT and HBS are the other schools with a long-running dean. At MIT, Dean Schmittlein has been quietly creating a success story since 2008. Across the river, Nitin Nohria has been running the show since 2010. Duke’s Dean Boulding has been there since 2013 and was just reappointed to another five-year term. All of those schools seem to be doing fine (not necessarily seeing bold innovations of late from the latter two, but they’re both in good shape — no scandals!! — and no threats to their relative positions in the rankings, and MIT is doing just fine, thank you). We don’t expect big changes at any one but who knows. If Ted Snyder isn’t ready to retire yet (he’s only like 65 right now) then perhaps Harvard might try to lure him. But we doubt it. If he lands at another top bschool then we’re just wildly flapping our gums and crystal-balling that it would be at Columbia.
This has grown long. We have more to say. We will pick up with it again on the morrow (which is now posted HERE).
Short answer: Much less than what your peers graduating with MBAs into consulting and finance are making.
Scary answer: Maybe not any more than you’re making today???
Here’s some information captured in a tiny-ass footnote towards the end of the Chicago Booth Class of 2016 Employment Report :
Accepted offers in these functions include graduates working at start-ups: Analytics/Data Science (1), Business Development (4), Finance, Other (1), General Management (3), Sales (1), and Operations: Production/Supply Chain Management/Logistics (3). In total, 2.6% of accepted offers for the class of 2016 were with start-ups. For base salary, the minimum was $85,000, the maximum was $144,383, and the median was $119,000.
That comes at the end of the table that reports a whopping $215k salary for a 2016 grad who went into investment management. We don’t think that the Booth Career Services peeps were trying to bury that info; in fact, they’re probably quite proud of the fact that so many of their grads went to startups, given how, you know, startups are a thing these days. It’s definitely how Booth is trying to position itself. (That and McKinsey. They also sent 26 grads to McKinsey last year. Yeah, that.)
This footnote is really just trying to help you understand why salaries were so low in some of those categories. It’s not making excuses; it’s actually a bragworthy bit o’ detail.
It’s also notable to catch the footnote on the following page, which lists the internships that the Class of 2017 landed:
Accepted offers in these functions include students doing summer internships at start-ups: Business Development (12), Consulting (4), Corporate Strategy/Strategic Planning (1), Company Finance (Analysis/Treasury) (1), Venture Capital (3), Finance, Other (1), General Management (1), Brand/Product Management (3), Marketing, Other (1), Operations: Production/Supply Chain Management/Logistics (1), and Product Management (Tech) (3). In total, 5.4% of accepted offers for the class of 2017 were with start-ups. For monthly base salary, the minimum was $1,000, the maximum was $8,333, and the median was $4,000.
The trend appears to be, “Do a startup during the summer, but then get a real job when I graduate.” We’ll have to see what happens to those 31 kids next year. It’s certainly a low-risk way to find out if the startup life is for you.
If you’re planning on joining a startup post-MBA, we do hope that you’ve been doing your research.
Take a look at the numbers.
What salary can you actually expect?
(Note: Facebook is not a startup.)
Be sure you’re doing your research, o nobly born. Know what you’re walking your brave heart into.
The median is still nothing to sneeze at for that startup cohort – but it may not be what your starry-eyed self had in mind.
Update June 2017: Here’s some research that says graduating MBAs take $15,000 less in first salary than those taking more traditional post-MBA jobs.
In some ways, the Chicago Booth essay question is super simple: View this collection of shared Booth moments. Choose the moment that best resonates with you and tell us why. In other ways… man oh man, that one is not easy! Obviously we go into great detail in the Chicago Booth SnarkStrategies Guide but just…
If you’ve been talking to certain Executive MBA admissions people just recently and you’re early in the process of applying, then it’s possible that they may have suggested that you take the new Executive Assessment instead of the GMAT or the GRE.
Oooh how appealing! You don’t have to take the GMAT?!?? That sounds GREAT!
And it might be – provided you’re interested in a specific (very specific) type of MBA.
What is the Executive Assessment and how is it different?
The Executive Assessment is just as it sounds: It’s a standardized test that’s very similar to the GMAT but – just like an executive summary is a condensed version of an entire lengthy report that captures only the essence of a topic, the Executive Assessment is a much shorter version. Here’s the introduction to the Executive Assessment on mba.com . This is the breakdown of the Executive Assessment compared to the GMAT that you all know and (ahem) love.
|Integrated Reasoning||12 questions
|Analytical Writing Assessment||1 topic
Whoo-wee, only like a third of the quant questions? SIGN ME UP!
The Executive Assessment is 90 minutes long, compared to the 3-hour GMAT.
Before you get too excited there’s two very significant limitations (besides the fact that the Executive Assessment is also a bit more expensive than the GMAT, but we assume that’s not a dealbreaker for anyone):
- The Executive Assessment is only accepted by Executive MBA programs. For most of you, this will never serve as substitute for the GMAT. We’ve not heard of any “regular” MBA, whether full-time or accelerated, that has even expressed interest in accepting it, and we doubt we ever will. You’ll need to make friends with the GMAT (or GRE) if you’re interested in any of these standard (read: competitive) MBA tracks.
- As of this writing (October 2016) the Executive Assessment is only accepted by a small number of schools. It’s in limited deployment to a short list that includes Columbia EMBA, Booth EMBA, Darden EMBA, and some international programs like INSEAD and LBS – but not every EMBA adcom is taking it yet. That will undoubtedly change, however if you’re applying for an EMBA this year, then you need to be very very thoughtful before going the Exec Assmt route. (UPDATE JUNE 2017: In the US, UCLA Anderson, Berkeley-Haas and Vanderbilt now also take the EA for their EMBA programs. UPDATE AUGUST 2071: MIT Sloan Fellows now also accepts it.)
Why? Because you’re by definition limiting your options. If you take it for School X but later decide to apply to School B, then you would need to start over with the GMAT.
Say you currently live in the New York area. You’re looking around for an MBA program that allows you to stay at your job while you go to school. There are only a small handful of choices in the region.
|F/T MBA||P/T MBA||EMBA|
Admission to each of those programs entails varying degrees of difficulty based on their respective competitiveness factors. It may be very tempting to just say that Columbia is your first choice and do the Executive Assessment – and Columbia has some excellent EMBA options, including various formats which can accommodate different schedules based on how much flexibility your employer is granting you.
Columbia EMBA is not the most competitive program around but we have seen people apply there (before meeting us) and get turned away. So it’s not like you can just waltz in and expect to be accepted. That’s even more so the case for Wharton EMBA. It’s nearly as difficult to get into that program as it is for Wharton full-time. (Well, not quite, but it’s nothing like admissions to some other top schools’ EMBA tracks.)
Presumably NYU Stern will begin accepting the Executive Assessment in the future but for the current admissions season, EssaySnark’s understanding is that that’s not going to happen. If you’re applying now – in 2016 or early 2017 – then it’s a short list of EMBAs where the Executive Assessment will play .
If you’re at the start of the process of applying for an MBA and you are a fit to an executive format MBA in other ways – mostly based on your seniority and level of work experience – then double-check the schools that you’re interested in. If it’s only one school, and one program, and they’ve been pushing the Executive Assessment on you, then sure, it may be a good choice.
But if you’re just looking at Columbia EMBA because a) it’s Columbia (yeah, we know, that whole Ivy League allure) and b) it’s a part-time format that lets you keep your job and c) you’ve heard it’s easier to get in… Those are all legit reasons, but we have met more than one BSer for whom we were convinced a full-time MBA was actually a much better opportunity. If that type of BSer dives head first into the Executive Assessment without doing proper research and understanding the landscape then they will be limiting themselves to a very narrow set of options.
We’ve seen this happen before. Sometimes people start their school research by focusing on the EMBA based on doubts about their profile or because they only want to go part time, and then later realize that no, they actually are more interested in the full-time MBA. And boy that would suck if you already went through the trouble and cost of doing the Executive Assessment and can’t use it on your apps.
The EMBA admissions people at the schools that take the Executive Assessment are actively promoting this option, because it’s truly a positive for many. The GMAT is a significant hurdle for lots of candidates who are thinking about trying for an MBA, and it deters plenty of the more senior applicants especially from ever applying. Kellogg does not even require the GMAT for their EMBA applicants which is a fairly extreme position to take (basically if you have a pulse and you do a decent job on your essays you’ll be able to find a home in the Kellogg EMBA family – yes we’re exaggerating but not by much).
If you’re in the Midwest and looking at an EMBA, then you may have a bit more wriggle room in going for the Executive Assessment as your test strategy. That’s because of what we just stated:
- Kellogg EMBA does not even require the GMAT (usually)
- Neither does Michigan Ross (again, usually; sometimes they ask for it)
- Chicago Booth EMBA accepts the Executive Assessment (along with the GMAT and GRE)
So, if you take the Executive Assessment for Booth, and you’re also applying to an EMBA program that does not require the GMAT of all applicants, you may be able to use the Exec Assmt to your benefit. This is an untested theory but we are guessing that you might be able to get away with submitting your unofficial Executive Assessment report to the adcom in support of your candidacy to Kellogg or Ross EMBA, even though they’re not technically partners with the GMAC on this pilot.
Mostly what all of this boils down to is: Test your theories.
If you’re interested in the EMBA, then ask yourself: WHY? Is it based only on the flexible format? Is it because you’ve heard that it’s easier to get in? Or is it because you are truly a fit, given that you’re, uh, an executive?
Don’t choose an MBA program based only on its test requirements (or lack thereof). Do your due diligence. School fit is important – not just “can I get in?”
In the future, we’re certain that the Executive Assessment will be a better option for more people, but this year, choose wisely before committing.
As with all things in life, just because it’s easier does not mean it’s better.
More on the theme of interviewing (which is of course also widely covered in the ‘Snarchives), which today we’ll cover through some firsthand reports from BSers Who’ve Gone Before. From last year: Had my interview at Booth today and… Oof! Got a bunch of really off the wall questions from the 2nd year student from…
We got a request for a freebie essay review the other day and the sender-inner sent a career goals essay, which is something that many of you are tackling, so we figured, why not? We also appreciate that this came in when we’re not up to our ears in reviewing essays for paying clients. Thank…
Things are really happening! As essay questions have come out, we’ve been silently updating the respective MBA essay questions pages but we haven’t made a big deal on announcing them here on the front page of the blahg. The bschool index page indicates which schools have questions out, and you can always find a snapshot commentary on any school’s essays from that dropdown menu (with far greater details and discussion available in their respective MBA essay questions guides when those come out). Today we’re going to recap which schools have done what with their apps so far this year.
So far, essay questions have been announced for:
- Columbia – no big changes
- Harvard – no big changes
- Stanford – no changes at all
- Michigan Ross – no big changes
- Berkeley Haas – no big changes
Are you sensing a pattern?
Given how the schools were wallowing in applications last season, it makes sense that they may not feel motivated to be switching things up too much this year. The whole “If it ain’t broke” thing, right? The most we’ve seen are variations in wording by schools like Columbia and Haas, and a clarification of what they’re looking for in the essay instructions offered by schools like Stanford and Berkeley.
What does that mean for you, particularly if the school you’re interested in has not issued a peep yet of what its requirements will be?
Well, for starters, you can expect that other schools probably also won’t be making wholesale changes to their apps. One reason for this is simply the herd mentality – particularly the “follow HBS” mindset that seems quite prevalent at other admissions offices. Harvard has long been the innovator in this space. They were the first one to start whacking essays from their app, first reducing their original 4-essay set down to 2, and then taking it down to 1. They also led the charge in reducing essay length limits even before then. There have been other ways that Harvard has introduced important changes to the application process that many of you will go through this year, including many that other schools have adopted, including much-shorter cycles (the time from app submit to final decision is shorter now at many schools) and the mid-cycle “release” where applicants who won’t be asked to interview will now be set free at a much earlier stage. Wharton and Booth also do this now, following in Harvard’s footsteps.
When Harvard does not make major changes to its application, then that means the follower schools are given permission to keep things the same, too.
That does not mean that none of the remaining schools will change things up. We actually are looking to Wharton to potentially make some modifications to its application this year (we have no inside information on this, it’s just a sense that a switch-up there is overdue). We’re also quite torn about the Chicago Booth presentation; last year they introduced a novel approach where applicants were asked to respond to one of an assortment of photos from the Booth community. The way they set up the prompt for that assignment was a bit convoluted and it resulted in some rather cumbersome responses. We like the idea of the photos but we’re not sure it was all that conducive to gathering useful content from applicants. So we’re unsure where Booth will go with it this year. They’re undoubtedly going to stick with the “presentation or essay” format (Pro Tip: A presentation is always better!!) but hopefully they’ll modify how they’re setting up the exercise for all of you up-and-coming Brave Supplicants.
Here’s where we expect certain other schools to go:
- NYU Stern – likely to keep same questions
- Duke – likely to keep same questions
- Cornell – likely to keep same questions
- Tuck – likely to keep (nearly) the same questions
- Yale – we expect at least a tweak of the question
- Kellogg – we expect at least a tweak of the questions
- UCLA – we expect they will tweak the question
- MIT Sloan – tough call; at least a tweak of the question but possibly a whole new one
- Wharton – as above; they’re overdue for some changes, and their current question could be improved
Obviously we’ve been surprised by what schools have done in the past – some years our predictions are pretty close (this year we were on the nose with Harvard) and in other years, we’ve been totally off.
In terms of app volumes, we’re not going to make projections there. Apps to many schools for the Class of 2018 were up – and they were up at some schools the year before that, too. That means there’s going to be a lot of spillover: Many BSers are still on the treadmill and will be reapplying this year. In the past, we’d assumed that too many up years in a row meant that a down year was coming, but we were wrong then, and we cannot tell what’s happening in the world to cause so many more apps to be flowing through the door at all of these schools. (Well, yes, we do: A lot of them are international applicants.)
The main takeaway from the fact that already five schools are maintaining status quo this year is that you can rely on past posts here on the EssaySnark blahg to study up on their requirements and preferences and learn proper strategies for positioning yourself in your essays. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin, the Complete Essay Package is an excellent way to get started – and now is absolutely the right time to be doing so.
If you missed the GMAT data presented yesterday, you may want to go back and check that out first.
In a EMBA admissions posting recently, the Wharton team mentioned strategies about when to apply in Round 1 versus Round 2, saying that sometimes it’s better to delay in order to have time to retake the GMAT.
We’ll say that again:
They gave advice that some applicants would benefit from applying later in order to retake the GMAT.
OK, in case you’re not picking up what we’re laying down:
As a general rule, EMBA programs are simply not as competitive as the full-time MBA. There aren’t as many applicants, and the adcoms are less choosey. Not completely un-choosey, but less so.
They still need to see some quality elements to a profile – decent grades from college, a passable GMAT score. But the averages for both are not in the same realm as their F/T counterparts. In most cases, the EMBA adcoms are focusing instead on your professional experience. It’s MUCH more important at most of these places that you’re a fit to their program based on career. They want to see that you’re at an appropriate place in your professional development to benefit from what they offer, and to contribute to the class.
Wharton is saying here that sometimes a higher GMAT score is worth delaying your app till later in their cycle – which is the kind of advice you more often hear from the adcoms for the competitive F/T programs. The GMAT score matters at any school but it matters a lot less at an EMBA, simply because they don’t get nearly as many applications and so there aren’t as many top-scoring candidates fighting for prominence. Here, Wharton is signalling that yes, the GMAT matters in their evaluation and selection process, and a higher score can help, and that it may be worth the effort to take the test again. At other schools, the GMAT is not exactly just a check-the-box thing, in terms of making sure you have one and it doesn’t matter what it is. But it’s not like this.
Now, we’re not trying to claim that you can waltz into the Columbia or the Haas EMBA programs with a 500 GMAT. That score is low if we’re talking any program at any top school. But, when a BSer talks to the admissions folks at any EMBA program they very rarely emphasize the GMAT issue quite so much.
In fact, Kellogg’s EMBA does not even require a GMAT for most applicants. Yeah. That.
Chicago Booth will waive the GMAT requirement for some of their most senior applicants who can demonstrate sufficient quant proficiency through their job. That being said, the waiver sounds atypical. You apparently have to actually qualify for it. As proof, here’s what Chicago Booth EMBA folks tell their candidates:
Candidate: “I don’t have time to study for and take the GMAT.”
Booth: “Then you don’t have time to be a Chicago Booth student.”
Judging an EMBA program on its GMAT policies is painting with a broad brush, but it’s a helpful way to crack open some of these issues of selectivity and competitiveness – and it helps you to appreciate what types of students you’ll be in the classroom with. Did they even have to take the GMAT? Or if they did, did they have to bust butt and get a good score? Or did they just have to take it so that they could say that they took it? How much do they really want to be there?
You may curse the barriers to entry that the top bschools present with things like GMAT scores especially, but generally speaking, they do serve as a useful filtering mechanism.
When someone works really hard to get accepted to a program, then we’re betting they’re going to be more engaged and involved all the way through.