If you’re going for a part-time MBA, today’s post is not for you. Many part-time MBA programs REQUIRE students to be working while completing the MBA. Today we’re talking about the “why MBA” essay where you toss out the idea that you’ll do an internship during the school year. This brilliant idea gained a foothold…
This was in a draft we reviewed sometime last season:
It will be and always has been very important for me to contribute as much as possible to the School Community I am studying at, being fully aware that as a part time student the opportunity to do so is limited. As mentioned in my CV, in my former school community I have been active in various functions.
Don’t force the reader to pick up the resume. They have asked you this question for a reason and they expect you to lay out your answer here, not tell them to go look somewhere else. They will already be referencing the resume in conjunction with your application so it’s not useful to make such comments like this. “As mentioned elsewhere” stuff is both distracting (“Hmmm, you mentioned it? I don’t remember.” It sets the reader off thinking about something else), plus extraneous (they already have everything so telling them that they have it seems redundant) and even a tiny bit bossy or scolding (“Are you telling me I should stop what I’m doing and go back? Or are you chastising me for not remembering what you already said, or do you think I should have your background memorized?”). None of these are reactions your reader will consciously have; instead, they’ll just cruise past those words without really stopping. BUT! If there are words your reader will cruise past, then that’s a prime indication that they’re not needed.
Also: “various functions”?
Finally to the point that this person is saying they’re going for a part-time track and so “opportunity to get involved is limited.” Well….. We totally get the sentiment there, and yes it’s true, some schools have fewer opportunities for the part-time students to participate in the full-time student activities, just based on limited time that they’re on campus, and the fact that a lot of the full-time events and meetings are scheduled during the day. That’s a logistical challenge and a drawback of going for a part-time MBA while you’re holding down a full-time job at the same time.
But look at how that’s phrased. It’s almost like the BSer is saying that they won’t get a chance to participate because they’re part-time, which for most schools is not the case at all. The schools invite all students for all things (with some exceptions by program, but those tend to be few). So, if we’re being precise in our language, a better way to say it would be “as a part time student
the MY opportunity to do so is WILL BE limited.” Two tiny changes, but can you see what a difference in tone and feeling it creates?
Yup, word choice matters. Think carefully of what you’re trying to say. Then say it. Then go back over it again later, to make sure that what it says is what you really meant.
We have this nifty feature here on the EssaySnark blahg where we allow Brave Supplicants to send in an essay for the hopes of a free review on the site. (Note: You do have to be a paying subscriber to the blahg to submit your goodies.) We also accept questions submitted that way, and this is what we got recently from a Round 2 BSer:
I have been working in Silicon Valley for last 3 years as Hardware Engineer, joined a startup 6 months ago and working in health tech industry. Planning to apply for UCLA Part Time program (FEMBA). My undergraduate is from [Asian country] and GPA is [decent]. Did MS from [American university] GPA [just as decent]. GRE Quant [very average], Verbal [very low], Analytical [very low]. I want to work in manufacturing and operation strategy as post MBA career. Preferably in startup environment. What part of my profile I should highlight in my essay. Do you think I need recommendation from my current manager? Or is it OK to submit recommendation from my previous manager?
Hmmm, lots of questions there.
We will start off with hope: UCLA FEMBA is more flexible in admissions and it’s somewhat easier to gain a spot there with a decent profile and a good set of essays. It’s not quite as cutthroat competitive as the other main California bschools. Even a profile like this one – international engineer with very average to below-average stats – can have a chance at this particular program.
But as you can guess where we’re going with this: The stats are very average. Or even below average. We’re frankly very worried about the GRE score.
It’s often better to apply with a GMAT instead of a GRE. We used to say “always better” and we’re changing our tune ever so slightly these days because there are somewhat more cases where maybe a GRE would serve.
But in this case with the crowded candidate pool, and the expectation that this type of person would do just fine on the GMAT, well, the GMAT is better. Here’s our most recent “GMAT is better” post (June 2015) and we’ve covered it multiple times before (you can check the ‘snarchives for that).
But that’s not what this BSer asked, is it.
Here’s what they asked:
Do you think I need recommendation from my current manager? Or is it OK to submit recommendation from my previous manager?
Oh hey! We cover that too! Also from the ‘snarchives: Who should you ask for your recommendations.
The schools always want a recommendation from the current direct manager. There are some cases where it’s not the best strategy but if you can swing it, that’s what you should do. If this BSer wants more input on their exact situation, the Letters of Recommendation App Accelerator is designed for exactly that purpose.
Or is it OK to submit recommendation from my previous manager?
Yes it’s OK. Is it ideal? No idea. Depends on the specifics of your situation.
What part of my profile I should highlight in my essay.
The part that shows you as an overachiever who’s ahead of your peers.
Beyond that, we have no idea. You didn’t share anything meaningful with us to even begin to answer that question (not that that would be appropriate for the little free ask-a-question thingie, but still). If you’re not sure what that might be, then at risk of sounding like a broken record, we do have this Comprehensive Profile Review service which should at least get you pointed in the right direction.
Or if you’re further along, the Essay Ideas App Accelerator, to get feedback on the topics you’re planning to present in those essays, before you write them. That Essay Ideas service is kind of like creating a prototype, or a wireframe. You build a temporary structure or strawmodel, to see how it floats. (Aren’t you impressed with how techie we’re being today?) The best part of the Essay Ideas App Accelerator is that – as with all our App Accelerators – it includes a tutorial to walk you through the process of developing the content for your essays. So you get a boatload of best practices from EssaySnark, to guide you on the mysterious path to essay nirvana.
We’re still accepting pleas for help and random BSer questions through that ask a freebie question service – heck, you could even try submitting a draft of a Round 2 essay if you have one ready to roll. No guarantees that we’ll be able to look at it in any reasonable amount of time (or at all) but ya never know.
We kinda gave away the punchline to one part of this BSer’s story a few weeks back when we complained about a certain school in a previous post…. but this person has a story worth telling and it’s worth hearing it all over again, from their perspective this time! And it does have a happy ending indeed.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my success story on the Blahg! I know that this entry comes to you a few weeks later than promised, so I hope it will still have the chance to be published on the Blahg at some point. I realize that this report is l-o-o-o-o-o-ng (I guess my essay-writing skills are a little rusty), so feel free to pare it down, post in parts or pick and choose whatever you think is of value.
Part-time or Full-time?
My MBA application journey started way back in November of 2014, when I felt that I needed to take some action to accelerate the course of my career path. I started by exploring the top-ranked part-time programs from the two schools that were within commuting distance to where I lived – Kellogg and Booth. As I visited the campuses, went to admissions events, sat in on classes and reached out to current students, I made a couple of observations:
a) The two schools were so starkly different from a culture standpoint that it crystallized how important the “cultural fit” was to me.
b) The current students frequently talked about how difficult it was to balance work and school – those who were closer to graduating often said things like, “Phew, I’m so glad I only have 2 months to go!”.
The latter gave me pause – if I were to take the plunge, it would mean balancing a considerable amount of travel (for work) with commuting 90+ miles for classes over the weekends plus managing school work.
So after giving my GMAT, I decided to test the waters of the full-time programs and the difference in the attitude of the studdents was remarkable – everyone was super excited about school; those who were close to graduation were actually sad that the 2 years were coming to an end; alums often referred to their time in BSchool as the best two years of their lives. This was an eye-opening moment. I realized that I truly wanted the full-time experience… and what’s more, I was in the very fortunate position to be able to go for it if I chose to. (Note: I understand that going part-time can be the absolute right choice under different circumstances for certain people. I luckily did not have family constraints or location constraints. Also, my company wasn’t going to pay for me to go part-time, which made my decision easier.)
Once I decided to apply to the full-time programs, I went all out with my research. After narrowing down my 3 target schools based on culture and focus on healthcare, I visited every single page of the school websites, connected with students and alums, visited the campuses and attended various admissions events. I then spoke with a handful of popular (and expensive) admissions consultants and was immensely disappointed. Some said I didn’t have a shot at any of the top 15, some recommended schools that didn’t make sense at all after I had explained my criteria and some said I was too old for my candidate pool.
Just as I was getting ready to strike out on my own, fortune struck and I stumbled across the Blahg. I started with paid access to the blahg and read hundreds of posts. I then contributed to the Crowd-Sourced Essay Review and was pleasantly surprised to receive positive comments from the Snark. So I decided to go for the Comprehensive Profile Review – when I got back the super detailed 16-page evaluation, not only was I completely sold on the EssaySnark services, I also felt my hope return and my self-doubt fade away. [Yeah! Hope was appropriate! Because like this BSer had a real shot at the best schools! Not too old! Not unqualified! Apparently some other admissions consultants aren’t offering good enough advice to help their clients with similar profiles get in???? WTF! This type of thing drives us nuts. /ESrantover]
As with every other BSer I’ve ever known, my essay-writing experience was painful. In hindsight, I am extremely glad I purchased the Complete Essay Package. It provided a solid framework for my soul-searching process so that by the time I was ready to write my essays, I had almost all my content squared away. The goals accelerator was particularly helpful in steering me toward realistic, but specific goals. I also highly recommend starting with the school guides – I diligently followed the advice in the guides (especially regarding outlining and structure) and as a result, my essays needed way fewer draft revisions to get to a decent quality. My advice for essays is pretty boring and unoriginal: start early and schedule enough time each day to get yourself in the “flow” mode. What worked for me was dragging myself and my computer to a coffee shop for a couple of hours. During these periods of intense focus and content generation, I sometimes hit a wall and experienced frustration. But I often had the best ideas after these sessions, when I was driving or in the shower and no longer agonizing over the essays. And the next time I sat down in the coffee shop, the jigsaw pieces fell beautifully in place.
TOEFL and Unexpected Hiccups
Two weeks after turning in all my applications, I received an email from Haas, saying that I needed to turn in my TOEFL score in order to be considered for Round 1. Although I am an international applicant, since I have lived, studied and worked in the US, I was exempt from writing the TOEFL at most schools. However, Haas is one of the schools that has stricter criteria for exemption. So I had called and checked with the school before turning in my application and was told that I was indeed exempt since I already had a master’s degree from a US university. When I cited this, the admissions personnel I was in contact with said that it didn’t seem plausible and asked weather I remembered the name of the person I had spoken with, as if insinuating that I was not being truthful. Apparently, my research-based masters didn’t count toward the exemption, since I didn’t have enough course credits per semester to satisfy the criteria. (This is where EssaySnark kinda spilled the beans on this story already. Darn it Haas, why you gotta make things hard on these nice people?!??)
EssaySnark was kind enough to offer advice and coached me through a follow-up email to Haas admissions. Ultimately, they were unwilling to budge on the requirement and my application was tabled for consideration in Round 2, provided I satisfied the TOEFL requirement. The whole experience left a sour taste in my mouth and I was no longer as excited about Haas as I had been. I did however end up taking TOEFL and sending them the scores, as it didn’t make sense to withdraw my application after all that work. Also, EssaySnark wisely advised against judging the school based on my experience with admissions. As reluctant as I was to accept this, I knew deep down that it was true.
As they all say, the waiting is the hardest. As we drew close to decision dates, I grew anxious and started prepping for Round 2 – something I hadn’t originally planned for, but now had to consider due to the issue with the Haas application. In the end, it proved unnecessary, as I was admitted into what I later realized had been my first choice school all along. I was waitlisted at the second school and dinged at Haas. But I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome! After all, if you do the work and only apply to schools you really want to go to, one admit is all you need.
Yes indeed! You just need one! Especially when it’s the one you landed!! This BSer proves that it’s all about hard work – and then from our perspective, we believe that it comes down to a touch of fate. Or maybe it’s like Abe Lincoln said: “I find that the harder I work, the luckier I get.”
We’re guessing that this BSer is no longer frequenting the blahg but in case you are, then congrats once again on the great success you achieved, and we’re certain you’re putting this opportunity to good use! If you want to offer any in-the-trenches updates about what your experience is like so far as a first-year on campus, we’d be eager to hear them – and we hope you’re having a blast!
Finally, a small disclaimer to anyone reading this with skepticism: When we ask clients if they want to share their story on the blahg, we do NOT request it as a testimonial – we always state that they can write about whatever they like. We are of course honored and pleased when they choose to talk about their experience with EssaySnark but it is not what we are looking for by making those requests – so this is not intended to be an advertorial! Obviously yes when we help someone along the way then it makes sense for them to mention the experience but we didn’t want people to get the wrong idea on why we’re posting these. Nobody gets compensation for writing their stories for EssaySnark (which BTW is **not** how it works with some other consultants!) – we just like sharing the positivity and we hope that it helps some of you who are in middle of this very challenging process!!!
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…
In choosing among the different Executive MBA programs, then we are going to toot that same horn that we so often do about rankings. Sure, the ranking and reputation of your bschool matters. Yeah yeah yeah we know that it does.
If you’re actually looking at the program and the education and the experience that you will have then we have to point out that all EMBAs are not created equally. Meaning, there are very wide variations in acceptance criteria among the EMBAs offered at the top bschools. And this does in fact affect the entire program. When it’s easier to get in somewhere, then often people end up there because they had a harder time getting in somewhere else. It’s like water; everything seeks a balance in this world. People generally go to the best business school that will take them. With EMBAs, there’s also many other factors in play and many students choose the EMBA format on purpose, but it’s also often true that the same students tried to get into some F/T programs first and struck out. This is no diss on anyone, it’s just how things work.
And, sometimes the same students tried to get into other EMBAs too, and failed to execute.
At one end of the spectrum you get Wharton’s Executive MBA , which is no joke indeed. Using the very rough instrument of GMAT as a measure:
|median GMAT||80% range|
|Wharton Philly EMBA||695||630-750|
|Wharton SF EMBA||695||610-740|
Those data are similar to the full-time student stats at a school like Cornell. Let’s compare:
|median GMAT||80% range|
|Wharton Philly EMBA||695||630-750|
|Cornell F/T MBA||700||640-740|
Pro Tip: The median GMAT score is often more favorable number for a school to report than a mean GMAT when they’ve got several especially low-scoring students in the mix, particularly when the class size is small. Wharton only has around 100-ish EMBA students in each location. Back in 2011, Wharton EMBA was reporting a mean student GMAT of 701. Dang. That’s impressive. Don’t know what it’s at these days but presumably it’s lower and that’s why they switched to reporting median scores instead. Cornell’s mean GMAT tends to hover around 692 for their 275 full-time students.
Again, these EMBA-to-full-time comparisons tell very little of the story. There is a lot more different than similar about the students at these two programs. Please don’t overinterpret from these bare facts.
Since we’re looking though, those Wharton EMBA numbers are also somewhat comparable to the class profiles at some part-time programs:
|median GMAT||80% range|
|Wharton SF EMBA||695||610-740|
|Berkeley-Haas EWMBA P/T||700||640-740|
We wanted to also show UCLA FEMBA P/T in that grid but they’re not reporting much data. They only give a range of 610-730 which seems to be the full range, not just the 80% portion, and we have no clue what mean or median scores are.
Still, if we’re looking at competitiveness and difficulty of admission, then most part-time programs are more selective and harder to crack than most EMBAs. However, Wharton’s EMBA is harder than other EMBAs to get into, and Berkeley’s P/T is harder than other P/Ts to get into.
How about comparing Wharton to Wharton?
|median GMAT||80% range|
|Wharton Philly EMBA||695||630-750|
|Wharton SF EMBA||695||610-740|
|Wharton F/T MBA||730||700-770|
Ouch. The low end of the F/T 80% range is higher than the median at the EMBAs. Just, wow. As if we needed another reminder of how tough it is to make it into Wharton full-time these days.
We actually got off on a tangent here in putting together these GMAT comparison charts.
Check in with us tomorrow for Here is some additional commentary around GMAT score in EMBA admissions.
Continuing on with more thoughts on the EMBA from yesterday: There really is no excuse NOT to do the campus visit when applying to an EMBA since, theoretically, you’re local to the school. Yes, it’s true that more and more students are commuting further distances to an EMBA and other part-time formats. We’ve seen plenty…