MBA Admissions

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  • Select the best strategy and positioning
  • Pick the best schools and rounds
  • Manage deadlines
  • Craft targeted essays
  • Work effectively with your recommenders
  • Prepare for interviews
  • And more!

Featured Blog Posts

January 19, 2015

MBA Admissions Tip: The Waitlist

What should an applicant do when placed on the waitlist at his or her dream school?

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December 8, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Navigating the Waitlist

While the past few weeks have seen a number of admits and rejections handed down to round one MBA applicants, the fate of many remains uncertain.

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November 3, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: The Long Essay

Essay content you’ve polished for one school often serves as a great starting point for the next application, but as we’ve often said, customizing this text for the school in question is key.

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October 28, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: The Comparison Trap

We wanted to take some time today to discuss a frequently made mistake in the application process.  In their desire to make their case to their target MBA programs, many applicants devote sentences and even paragraphs to explaining why the school in question is their “first choice” and arguing its superiority over other schools.

Though certainly understandable, this is actually not a very productive exercise.

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October 20, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Interviewing the Interviewer

We’ve been offering a good deal of advice lately on how to conduct oneself and prepare responses to MBA interview questions.

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October 13, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: MBA Interview Prep

With interview invitations from a number of programs already on their way out to Round One applicants, we wanted to offer some more advice on this element of the admissions process.  Last week we posted some very basic etiquette information that will help candidates ensure that everything is in order on the big day.

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October 6, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: MBA Interview Etiquette

With interviews imminent for Round One applicants, we wanted to turn our attention to this important step in the admissions process and share a few very basic pointers on interview etiquette.

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September 29, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Essay Basics

We often stress that, to present oneself effectively in one’s application essays, it is critical to think carefully about what a given question is asking and what this might indicate about a specific school’s admissions priorities.

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September 22, 2014

MBA Admissions Tips: Common Recommendation Dilemmas

As many of our readers are aware, letters of recommendation are a central part of the application process.  We would like to take a look at how to handle the snags that often arise for applicants in unique employment situations.

The applicant who is most likely to have trouble finding a suitable recommender is either self-employed or works in his or her family’s business.

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September 15, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Word Limits

With applicants for the round one deadlines putting the finishing touches on their applications, the question of how strictly applicants need to adhere to word limits is perhaps more popular than ever.

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September 8, 2014

MBA Admission Tip: MBA Application Data Forms

With MBA programs’ R1 deadlines past or just around the corner, we wanted to offer some words of advice about an often overlooked element of one’s file: the application data forms.  All too often, we see candidates leave these online application forms for the last minute, even rushing to enter all the required information from work on “deadline day.

Read More...

September 1, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Know Your Audience

As Round 1 deadlines approach fast, applicants are coming to understand that applying to business school is an incredibly demanding process.  In addition to taking the GMAT, assembling academic transcripts and providing recommendation letters, candidates are required to draft multiple essays, job descriptions, lists of activities and more.

With the obvious incentive to save time wherever possible, it’s understandable that many applicants simply cut and paste content from an existing resume and write about their work in the manner that comes most naturally.

Read More...

August 25, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Declare Your Love and Explain It

With Round One deadlines for a number of programs just around the corner, it’s the time of year when many applicants are working hard on their application essays and learning more about their target programs in the process of rounding out their “why MBA/why school X” discussions.

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August 18, 2014

MBA Admission Tip: The Optional Essay

We realize that the questions of whether to answer an optional essay and, if so, what to say are ones that loom large for many b-school applicants at this time of year.

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August 11, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Off-Campus Information Sessions

For all those applicants who have recently opened a calendar to plot out the next few months only to realize they can’t possibly fit in campus visits on top of full time jobs and essay writing, never fear!

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August 4, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Applying to Business School as a Younger Applicant

As many of our readers know, it has become increasingly common for younger individuals to apply to MBA programs.  Whereas the average age and years of work experience at the leading business schools has traditionally hovered at around 28 and five respectively, many programs are now carefully considering the more youthful end of the applicant pool.

Read More...

July 28, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Planning for the R1 MBA Deadlines

Anyone who’s familiar with the MBA application process knows that August moves forward at an accelerated pace, and come September, entire weeks seem to disappear.  To help this year’s Round One applicants avoid the classic time crunch, today’s blog post offers some basic advice on how to approach the Round One deadlines at a reasonable pace.

Let’s start by taking a quick look some of at the published Round One deadlines for the top MBA programs:

September 9: Harvard
September 15: Oxford Stage 1, ISB
September 17: Duke/Fuqua Early Action
September 19: Cambridge/Judge 
September 23: MIT Sloan
September 24: INSEAD 
September 25: Chicago/Booth
October 1: Wharton, Cornell/Johnson, Stanford, UC Berkeley/Haas
October 5: CMU/Tepper
October 6: Ross
October 7: IESE
October 8: Columbia Early Decision & J-Term, Tuck Early Action
October 10: Georgetown/McDonough, UVA/Darden
October 14: NYU Stern, UT Austin/McCombs
October 17: UNC/Kenan-Flagler Early Action
October 22: UCLA Anderson

Though some schools have yet to announce their deadlines (such as London Business School and USC/Marshall), one can still get a general sense of the lineup of R1 deadlines.

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July 21, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Using Rankings to Your Advantage

There are numerous sources that can knowledgeably rank the “top” MBA programs.  However, because business schools receive different rankings depending on the sources’ criteria, it can be difficult to understand which are the “best” schools.

Read More...

July 7, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: School-Hosted Blogs

As the summer progresses and applicants begin researching their target schools in more depth, we would like to highlight a valuable research tool: school-hosted blogs.

Read More...

July 1, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Addressing Unemployment or Gaps in Employment

Given the emphasis that schools place on a candidate’s work experience, it is important to be proactive in addressing gaps in employment.  When applying to business school, many candidates worry about how the adcom might perceive gaps in employment.  We would like to take some time to discuss strategies for addressing this issue.

It’s not unheard of for an MBA candidate to have a gap in employment, and this will not necessarily make a negative impact on someone’s candidacy.

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June 23, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Visiting the Campus

As many applicants are finding out at this time of year, conducting thorough research on MBA programs is an essential step in formulating a list of target schools and crafting convincing essays.

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June 16, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: How to Write a Résumé that Will Get You In | Admissions Tip

Your résumé is not only an important component of your MBA application, it’s also a great place to start when crafting your overall positioning strategy.  This document forces one to distill a candidacy into a concise summary, focusing on key aspects and themes.  With that in mind, here are a few simple tips to get you started:

1) First things first.  Because you’re applying to graduate school, it makes sense to lead this document with a section detailing your academic history.

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June 9, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Crafting Strong Essays – The Rewards of Reflection

With several of the leading schools having already released their essay questions for this admissions season, we’re sure that quite a number of early birds are eager to get a jump on the process in order to complete as many applications as possible by Round 1.

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June 2, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Selecting Your Recommenders

Since many of our readers are just beginning the business school application process, we wanted to offer some basic tips on a critical variable in the MBA admissions equation: recommender selection.

When choosing your recommenders, remember that it can be seen as a test of judgment – selecting a recommender whose letter is ineffective or who appears dubious about your qualifications may raise doubts about your ability to judge your interactions with others or to select the right person for a job.

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May 27, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Feedback Session Etiquette

At the beginning of April, we discussed the importance of signing up for a feedback session when one is planning to reapply to a program that provides this opportunity.  Today we’d like to follow up on that post by offering a few thoughts on feedback session etiquette.

While on one hand a feedback session marks the close of this year’s process, it’s crucial that you realize that the impression you make on the adcom member conducting the session may be added to your file and come to bear on your candidacy next year.

Read More...

May 19, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Going Beyond School Websites

In keeping with the recent Admissions Tips we have posted for the new crop of applicants to the Class of 2017, today we want to offer some tips on engaging the community of one’s target programs.  Communicating with b-school insiders can be beneficial for a number of reasons: In addition to learning about a given school and your potential fit, you’ll also generate material for your essays, demonstrate your interest in the program, and perhaps even make an ally or two.

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May 12, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Approaching the Career Goals Essay

Though essay questions tend to vary year to year, the two things that nearly every prospective student can count on being asked are “What are your short-term and long-term post-MBA goals?” and “How will Business School X help you achieve these goals?”

These are the fundamental questions of the entire application process; identifying clear answers will help in everything from creating a list of target schools to communicating effectively with recommenders and interviewers down the line.

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May 5, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Round 3 Results

With the MBA programs releasing their Round 3 notifications in the upcoming weeks, the 2013-2014 admissions season is coming to a close for the vast majority of MBA aspirants.

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April 28, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Considering the Campus

Continuing our series of admissions tips geared towards those individuals who are just beginning to think about their MBA applications, we wanted to offer some advice on factors to consider with respect to a school’s facilities and location.

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April 21, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Avoiding Red Flags

When applying to the top schools, it is important to avoid “red flags” in your application.

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April 14, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Addressing Academic Strengths

While we devoted time last week to advice on addressing weaknesses in one’s academic record, today we wanted to explore the other side of the issue: the strengths that lie in your undergraduate record.

Beyond issues of aptitude or previous achievement, there are a number of other things that your academic profile might say about you.

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April 7, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Addressing Academic Weaknesses

To follow up on last month’s advice about GMAT preparation and timing, we wanted to offer some general comments about the role of academics in the admissions process.

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March 31, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Feedback Sessions for Denied Applicants

As many of our readers know, a small number of leading MBA programs offer admissions feedback sessions to applicants who did not make the admissions cut in a given season.  Though we’ve touched upon this subject before, we’d like to use today’s blog entry to underline the importance of these feedback sessions for those of you who are considering reapplication.

While not all schools offer feedback, a handful of schools issue an open invitation to all unsuccessful applicants.

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March 24, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Waitlists That Discourage Supplemental Information

We have previously posted some correspondence tips for those applicants who have been waitlisted by schools that welcome supplemental materials and communication.  Today, we’d like to provide some advice to those who are in an arguably more difficult position: waitlisted by schools that discourage further contact with the adcom.

This may sound obvious, but if a school indicates that they do not want supplemental materials, then you should respect their guidelines.

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March 17, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Dealing with a Ding

With many MBA programs beginning to release their R2 decisions, the spring notification season will soon be coming to a close.

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March 10, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Extracurricular Activities

Because it’s the time of year when applicants aiming for Fall 2015 intake are just beginning to think about the admissions process, we wanted to focus today on one element of the application that candidates often underestimate: extracurricular activities.

In order to understand why this category is important, candidates should keep in mind that the adcom is responsible for crafting a dynamic class each year.

Read More...

March 3, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Planning for the GMAT

For all you “early birds” who are planning to apply to business school this fall, we wanted to offer a few tips on managing your time as it relates to the GMAT exam.  Because this is an important element for many applicants in determining at which schools they will be competitive, it’s best to prep intensively and get this out of the way early in the process.

You should ideally be finished with the GMAT by mid-summer.

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February 24, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Late Round Considerations

After a relatively sleepy February, March will soon be upon us with its extensive list of application deadlines and decision notification dates.  Let’s take a look at part of the long list of Round 3 (or 4 or 5) deadlines spread over the next two months:

March 3rd: Ross R3 (11:59pm EST)

March 5th: INSEAD R3 (11:59pm CET)

March 7th: Judge R3 (5:00pm UTC)

March 12th: Haas R3 (11:59pm PST)

March 14th: UNC R4 (5:00pm EST)

March 14th: Oxford R4 (11:59pm GMT)

March 15th: Tepper R3 (11:59pm EST)

March 15th: Stern R4 (11:59pm EST)

March 20th: Fuqua R3 (11:59pm EST)

March 27th: Darden R3 (5:00pm EST)

March 27th: Wharton R3 (5:00pm EST)

March 27th: McCombs R3 (11:59pm CST)

April 1st: Georgetown R3 (11:59pm EST)

April 2nd: Stanford R3 (5:00pm PST)

April 2nd: Tuck R4 (5:00pm EST)

April 2nd: Kellogg R3 (11:59pm CST)

April 4th: Booth R3 (5:00pm CST)

April 7th: HBS R3 (11:59pm PST)

April 9th: CBS Regular Decision (11:59pm EST)

April 15th: Anderson R3 (11:59pm PST)

April 24th: Yale SOM R3 (5:00pm EST)

April 25th: Judge R4 (5:00pm UTC)

April 25th: Oxford R5 (11:59pm GMT)

May 30th: Oxford R6 (11:59pm GMT)

While it’s always best to apply as early as possible, the difference between applying in Round 1 and applying in Round 2 is, for most applicants, a marginal one.

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February 17, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Thinking About Financing

Though many business school applicants know exactly what they want to do—and how much they hope to make—after they graduate from an MBA program, a surprising number apply to school without thinking about how they’ll pay for this expensive degree.

Read More...

February 12, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Waitlist Correspondence

In addition to actively evaluating the applications of Round Two applicants at this time of year, many top programs revisit their Round One waitlists and consider the strength of those individuals with respect to the new information about the pool.

Read More...

August 16, 2013

MBA Admissions Tip: Using Rankings to Your Advantage

There are numerous sources that can knowledgeably rank the “top” MBA programs.  However, because business schools receive different rankings depending on the sources’ criteria, it can be difficult to understand which are the “best” schools.

Read More...

March 12, 2013

MBA Admissions Tip: Extracurricular Activities

Because it’s the time of year when applicants aiming for Fall 2014 intake are just beginning to think about the admissions process, we wanted to focus today on one element of the application that candidates often underestimate: extracurricular activities.

In order to understand why this category is important, candidates should keep in mind that the adcom is responsible for crafting a dynamic class each year.

Read More...

October 2, 2012

MBA Admissions Tip: Word Limits

With applicants for the round one deadlines putting the finishing touches on their applications, the question of how strictly applicants need to adhere to word limits is perhaps more popular than ever.

Read More...

June 18, 2012

Crafting Your Resume for the MBA Application Process

We wanted to offer some general tips for the Class of 2015 applicants on getting the most mileage out of résumés in the admissions process.

Read More...

June 12, 2012

MBA Admissions Tip: Crafting Strong Essays

With several of the leading schools having already released their essay questions for this admissions season, we’re sure that quite a number of early birds are eager to get a jump on the process in order to complete as many applications as possible by Round 1.

Read More...

May 30, 2012

MBA Admissions Tip: Feedback Session Etiquette

At the beginning of April, we discussed the importance of signing up for a feedback session when one is planning to reapply to a program that provides this opportunity.  Today we’d like to follow up on that post by offering a few thoughts on feedback session etiquette.

While on one hand a feedback session marks the close of this year’s process, it’s crucial that you realize that the impression you make on the adcom member conducting the session may be added to your file and come to bear on your candidacy next year.

Read More...

April 12, 2012

How to Handle Academic Weaknesses in Your MBA Applications

To follow up on last month’s advice about GMAT preparation and timing, we wanted to offer some general comments about the role of academics in the admissions process.

Read More...

March 8, 2012

What's Your GMAT Game Plan?

For all you “early birds” who are planning to apply to business school this fall, we wanted to offer a few tips on managing your time as it relates to the GMAT exam.

Read More...

February 28, 2012

MBA Admissions Tip: Waitlist Correspondence

In addition to actively evaluating the applications of Round Two applicants at this time of year, many top programs revisit their Round One waitlists and consider the strength of those individuals with respect to the new information about the pool.

Read More...

February 23, 2012

MBA Admissions Tip: Thinking About Financing

Though many business school applicants know exactly what they want to do – and how much they hope to make – after they graduate from an MBA program, a surprising number apply to school without thinking about how they’ll pay for this expensive degree.

Read More...

February 8, 2012

Grad School for Introverts

At Harvard, where the author got her law degree, she shows up on the business-school campus and asks random students if they know any introverts.

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February 6, 2012

MBA Admissions Tip: The Waitlist

What should an applicant do when placed on the waitlist at his or her dream school?

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January 10, 2012

Navigating MBA Waitlists

While the past few weeks have seen a number of admits and rejections handed down to Round One MBA applicants, the fate of many remains uncertain.

Read More...

December 20, 2011

Drafting a Resume For Your MBA Apps

As candidates tackle interviews and preparation for Round 2 applications, we would like to revisit an important aspect of the application: the resume.

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December 14, 2011

Pestering Your Way to an Admissions Decision

It's Tough Love Season* here Chez Ivey, and it's time for my annual public service announcement to applicants, wherein I say some version of "STOP ACTING LIKE A CRAZY PERSON."

I've written a whole blog post about how waiting is the hardest part, with a Tom Petty/Eddie Vedder video and everything! In that same spirt, I have a story to share.

I was talking to a law school admissions officer, among other things about applicants who feel compelled to check their online status every six minutes.

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November 7, 2011

MBA Essay Basics

We often stress that, to present oneself effectively in one’s application essays, it is critical to think carefully about what a given question is asking and what this might indicate about a specific school’s admissions priorities.

Read More...

November 2, 2011

Skipping the Question

I've written before that in your application essays, you must answer the question they're asking you, not the one you wish they had asked. Here's a related problem I often see: Rather than ignoring the question entirely, you might answer only part of the question and ignore the harder (and more interesting) bits.

Here are two examples, one from the MBA world, and one from the law school world:

  • "What matters most to you, and why?" (Stanford GSB)
  • "Say more about your interest in the University of Michigan Law School. What do you believe Michigan has to offer to you and you to Michigan?" (Michigan Law School)

Read More...

October 10, 2011

Word Limits in Your MBA Applications

With applicants for the round one deadlines putting the finishing touches on their applications, the question of how strictly applicants need to adhere to word limits is perhaps more popular than ever.

Read More...

September 29, 2011

Tips for Your MBA Application Data Forms

With MBA programs’ Round One deadlines just around the corner, we wanted to offer some words of advice about an often overlooked element of one’s file: the application data forms. All too often, we see candidates leave these online application forms for the last minute, even rushing to enter all the required information from work on “deadline day.

Read More...

September 21, 2011

MBA Admissions Tip: Know Your Audience

As Round One deadlines approach,  applicants are coming to understand that applying to business school is an incredibly demanding process. In addition to taking the GMAT, assembling academic transcripts and providing recommendation letters, candidates are required to draft multiple essays, job descriptions, lists of activities and more.

With the obvious incentive to save time where ever possible, it’s understandable that many applicants simply cut and paste content from an existing resume and write about their work in the manner that comes most naturally.

Read More...

August 25, 2011

Applying to Business School as a Younger Applicant

As many of our readers know, it has become increasingly common for younger individuals to apply to MBA programs.  Whereas the average age and years of work experience at the leading business schools have traditionally hovered at around 28 and five respectively, many programs are now carefully considering the more youthful end of the applicant pool.

Read More...

August 15, 2011

Good People Can Give Bad Advice

Good people can give you bad advice about your applications? Really? Says who?

The dean of admissions at Stanford's business school, for one. "Good People Can Give Bad Advice" is a headline in a post by Dean Derrick Bolton on Stanford GSB's admissions website, and I'm sharing his advice here because (1) it's great advice and (2) it applies just as well to law school and even college admissions. (Did you read that recent NYT article about the race to line up fancy and expensive summer experiences in service of college applications? If so, read on.)

Read More...

August 1, 2011

How to Use MBA Rankings to Your Advantage

There are numerous sources that can knowledgeably rank the “top” MBA programs.  However, because business schools receive different rankings depending on sources’ criteria, it can be difficult to understand which are the “best” schools.

Read More...

July 14, 2011

MBA Admissions Tip: School-Hosted Blogs

As the summer progresses and applicants begin researching their target schools in more depth, we would like to highlight a valuable research tool: school-hosted blogs. The last few years have seen a significant increase in the number of MBA student blogs hosted by schools’ admissions offices, as well as in admissions offices’ use of blogs to keep applicants informed of deadlines, admissions policies and events. Both types of blogs are useful throughout the admissions cycle; the factual information in the admissions office blogs is helpful in understanding and planning for the application process, while the student blogs offer valuable insights into student life, culture and academics.

Below we’ve provided links to some of the active blogs hosted by the leading MBA programs. 

Read More...

July 11, 2011

MBA Admissions Tip: Addressing Unemployment or Gaps in Employment

Given the emphasis that schools place on a candidate’s work experience, it is important to be proactive in addressing gaps in employment.  When applying to business school, many candidates worry about how the adcom might perceive gaps in employment.  We would like to take some time to discuss strategies for addressing this issue.

It’s not unheard of for an MBA candidate to have a gap in employment, and this will not necessarily impact someone’s candidacy in a negative way.

Read More...

July 5, 2011

Visiting Campuses Before You Apply to MBA Programs

As many applicants are finding out at this time of year, conducting thorough research on MBA programs is an essential step in formulating a list of target schools and crafting convincing essays.

Read More...

June 22, 2011

Tailoring Your Resume for the MBA Application Process

We wanted to offer some general tips for the Class of 2014 applicants on getting the most mileage out of resumes in the admissions process.

Read More...