Coronavirus and the MBA

Like many other parts of society, the business school process has been completely upended with the spread of coronavirus. Schools are struggling to make contingency plans, admitted students are questioning whether they should defer or even attend school at all, and prospective students are contemplating if they should be leaving their job in such an uncertain time. In future blogs, we’ll explore what business school under quarantine might look like, how to enter a job market during a recession and other coronavirus adjacent topics, but in the meantime, it’s always helpful in a crisis to go back to some core principles about business school and see how they hold up. If you are already applying to business school, hopefully you’ve established these already; if you haven’t, it is a good time to better understand some of the fundamental reasons why you might want to go to school.

Reason #1: Business school will help me build my network
Regardless of the coronavirus pandemic, your network will expand as a result of business school. Even in a virtual setting, you will be surrounded and working closely with dozens of peers with similar interests and aspirations. Naturally, you’ll connect with some and grow your network. In a distance learning environment – which might be a possibility for at least some of your b-school career – the ways in which and extent to which those networks form may be different. But rest assured that schools have a vested interest in working hard to develop innovative techniques to help students form those bonds, and often it’s the process of going through a challenging experience with others that forms the tightest and most lasting connections.

Reason #2: Business school will give me a stronger business education
Remote learning is nothing new. Many strong schools already provide online classes – or even entirely virtual curriculums – and the education is similar to what you would gain in a traditional classroom environment. The important thing to know is that schools have already gone through this transition and they are ready, so your knowledge shouldn’t suffer.

Reason #3: Business school will help me further my career
This principle is where your mileage may vary, dependent upon where you are in your career and what the economy does while you’re in school. The COVID recession has thrown some uncertainty into the job market with record job losses thus far in 2020. However, for one, if you’re reading this right now you’re not graduating in 2020 so you’re looking at an uncertain job market upon graduation, but not necessarily a down market. And secondly, we fully expect schools to put extra investment into career services programs to aid the classes of 2020 and 2021. In past recessions, schools have done proactive work with alums to help current students find opportunities. And note that the time horizon may do you some favors; while the summer of 2020 is absolutely a tight job market and growth might be hard to come by in the near-term, someone planning to graduate with an MBA in 2022 or 2023 may be coming out into a period of economic growth. As any financial planner would tell you, of course, don’t try to time the market. But if you don’t love your career prospects at the moment, business school is a great place to spend two years upgrading your skill set while the labor market gets sorted out.

While the coronavirus pandemic is making us rethink a lot, it is important to not let panic set in and try to remember why (or why not) you are applying or attending business school. If you continue to reanalyze those factors as the environment changes, you’ll be prepared to make a good decision.

6 Reasons to Consider an MBA

What do you want to achieve? An increase in your earning power? A boost to your career? A career switch? Well, an MBA can help you do all these things, and more.

Nowadays MBA aspirants can choose from a wide pool of programs, both in the US and abroad, that have the potential to open many doors and offer countless opportunities for career advancement.

Here are six reasons why you should give enrolling in an MBA program serious thought if you want to grow as a business leader.

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(Not only) financial gains
Many business professionals are drawn to the MBA degree by the generous return on investment (ROI) it promises. The numbers are indeed impressive. For instance, the median salary of business school alumni working at mid-level positions in the US is USD 105,000 and at the executive level the median salary is USD 185,000, according to the 2018 B-School Alumni Employment Report released by GMAC. Salaries vary across the schools, of course, with alumni from some institutions earning much more than the average amount. Graduates from Stanford School of Business earn USD 225,589 three years after graduation, which represents a 117% increase from their pre-MBA salaries, according to data collected by the Financial Times in 2019. Graduates from McGill University: Desautels earn USD 197,089 on average after three years, up 123%.
ROI is indeed a useful indicator, but the metric does not reflect the true quality of the degree. The MBA is more than the sum of its parts. Part of the difficulty in estimating the true ROI arises from the fact that the skills, experience, confidence, and network an MBA graduate gains cannot be reduced to mere figures.

Career growth
Job opportunities in the US are quite diverse for MBA and EMBA graduates. The good news for business professionals who want to build a career in the country is that the US economy is booming and top companies are open to hiring MBA alumni.
However, obtaining an MBA degree does not necessarily mean that you are predestined to work for a corporation. More and more graduates are choosing to strike out on their own and found a startup. At MBA level, entrepreneurship training is now offered either as an option within a general MBA or as a specialist MBA in its own right.

Network expansion
For many prospective MBA students, the networking opportunities are as valuable as the MBA designation itself. When choosing to pursue an MBA, perhaps one of the most vital aspects that you need to consider is the networking opportunities that you will have access to. The MBA degree is in a category of its own when it comes to networking. Not only do business schools strongly encourage it, but they also attempt to facilitate it after graduation.

Employers value your enhanced skill set
One of the MBA’s outstanding features is its ability to equip students with a toolkit containing the most vital hard and soft skills necessary for them to succeed in today’s world of business. Employers overwhelmingly agree that business school graduates are prepared to be successful at their companies, according to the 2019 Corporate Recruiters Survey by GMAC. The survey also shows that employers are particularly pleased with the way schools are addressing the current soft skills gap.

Change of direction
The desire to change the course of their career is among the most common reasons why people choose to enroll in an MBA program. It has indeed been shown to be a successful strategy, as more often than not a business degree provides a number of benefits in this respect: it allows you to immerse yourself for one or two years in a totally new environment where you think, dream, and devise strategies for your new professional endeavor. You will have access to case studies to prepare for your new career, sometimes more useful than one or two years of actual experience in the field. You will be able to benefit from the experience and acumen of some of the greatest minds in business. Your peers will offer inspiration in terms of exchanged knowledge, breadth of scope, diversity, experience, and different business approaches.

International experience at home and abroad
No matter whether you choose to study at home or abroad, most MBA programs strive to expose participants to different global perspectives and different ways of doing business. Professionals know that to succeed in today’s environment they need to be aware of the complexities of business in an international setting. The ability to work effectively in multiple cultures has become indispensable in the contemporary workplace.
Choosing an MBA at home or abroad largely depends on your goals. If you want to gain a more nuanced understanding of global business and truly get out of your comfort zone, maybe it is worth casting a wider net to include schools outside your home country. The diversity of MBA programs around the globe is growing, and so are your chances of taking your career to the next level.

Top ranked business schools are coming soon to a city near you to meet qualified MBA applicants. Sign up now to meet admissions officers One-to-One in Miami, New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles!

This post was written by Access MBA, a Veritas Prep promotional partner that co-hosts informational MBA events with admissions officers from top business schools.

How to Get Into Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is one of the most prestigious universities in the world, located in arguably the most prestigious academic city in the world. Cambridge, Massachusetts, is also home to Harvard. If you’re looking to apply to MIT you’re in great company, but that also means that you’ll have lots of competition. Let’s talk about what you should do if you hope to get into MIT.

MIT prioritizes course rigor and scores to filter students into priority groups. If you want your application to land in a top priority review group, aim for perfection.

Every school has its unique institutional priorities. For MIT, achieving on a high level in STEM tops the list of priorities. In order to compete for MIT, you will plan to be an exceptional student and excel in a STEM area.

Academically, you need to:
-Aim for 1550 or above on the SAT or 34-36 on the ACT.
-Submit the highest possible, if not perfect scores on SAT Subject Tests.
-Aim for an 800 on the SAT Subject Tests you plan to submit.
-Avoid submitting SAT Subject Test scores under 700.
-Take a minimum of 2 SAT Subject Tests for MIT, a requirement.

MIT requires:
1 Math SAT Subject Test: Math 1 or Math 2 (optimally, take Math 2)
1 Science SAT Subject Test. Choose from Biology, Chemistry or Physics.

While many students take between 7-8 Subject Tests over the course of 2 years to submit, you don’t have to take that number of tests to be competitive. Be sure to take at least the required 2.

Extracurricularly, you need to:
-As a baseline, all students who plan to apply to MIT should prepare for and take the AMC qualifying exam in January or February.

For math lovers, put your strong math side forward. Explore math competitions and work to complete at a high level. Consider engaging in the competitions below:
-American Mathematics Competitions (AMC 8, AMC 10, AMC 12, AIME, USAMO, USAJMO)
-American Regions Mathematics League (ARML)
-Harvard-MIT Math Tournament (HMMT)
-High School Mathematical Contest in Modeling (HiMCM)
-International Mathematics Olympiad (IMO)
-Math Prize for Girls
-MATHCOUNTS
-USA Mathematical Talent Search (USAMTS)

MIT asks students for AMC results and cares about AMC. Everything from AMC to International Math Olympiad to Regeneron or ISEF, MIT wants to see results. Pursue math classes to prep for AMC. MIT asks for AMC results on its application. That’s just how important they think this test is. If you really love math or computer science and think you can do well on the AMC test if you prepare, go ahead and take some classes that can help you. Math camps over the summer are especially geared toward some of the higher level math learning one might need to pursue AMC. Consider applying to these camps as early as December and January the winter before:

-Awesome Math
-Stanford SUMAC
-Ohio State University – Ross Mathematics Program
-Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists (PROMYS)
-Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics (HCSSIM)
-Canada/USA Mathcamp
-Texas Honors Mathworks
-MIT Research Science Institute

For science lovers, work to compete in science-based competitions, awards and tests. If math isn’t your thing, prep for a science Olympiad qualifying exam in the spring. If you make it, it’s all upside. If you don’t, you can always try again next year.
-Google Science Fair
-Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF)
-Regeneron Science Talent Search
-Davidson Fellows Award
-International Chemistry Olympiad (IChO)
-International Physics Olympiad
-USA Biology Olympiad
-Conrad Challenge
-President’s Environmental Youth Awards
-Stockholm Junior Water Prize
-FIRST Robotics Competition
-Junior Science and Humanities Symposia
-MIT THINK Scholars Program

Show collaboration. Students who have winning stories of robotics team or Technology Student Association, should share results. If you have worked together with a group to build a catapult or engineer an important solution to a critical problem, highlighting your collaborative nature in your application is key!

Submit a portfolio. MIT offers budding engineers an opportunity to submit maker portfolios.

Demonstrate a sense of humor. (MIT students are notorious for their pranks) Show a funny bone and even highlight some quirky interests! Take a risk on that application. Being funny and showing a science or math humor can offer an advantage. Be interesting!

If you get on the waitlist, consider it a waiting room, in which you want to be “close to the door” when they open it to let people in. Work like crazy to get off that list! MIT waitlists broadly, but their waitlist will move.

For international students:

If you are applying from outside of the US and have not won major competitions in your city, country, or region, consider applying broadly and develop a list of schools where the numbers are on your side. Last year MIT admitted a mere 87 international students. The year before, the numbers were not much better with 115 students accepted.

Three Essential GMAT Problem Solving Strategies

Vanilla Ice is famous for many reasons, but perhaps most of all for his lyric “If there was a problem, yo, I’ll solve it…” (Check out the hook while his DJ revolves it).  With the right mindset and strategies, you, too, can be ice cold under pressure and a master problem solver on the GMAT.  Consider these three essential GMAT problem solving strategies:

1) Look Out Below

The answer choices in a Problem Solving question are assets, so look below the question at the answer choices before you simply begin calculating.  Often the answer choices contain clues or shortcuts that will vastly decrease the amount of time/energy you need to spend on a problem.  Consider the question:

What is the square root of 2209?

(A) 31

(B) 33

(C) 37

(D) 47

(E) 53

Actually calculating the square root of 2209 is a monster process, and you’re not allowed to bring your trusty slide rule to the test center!  But a glance at the answer choices should reveal that your options are limited – you don’t have to create this number from scratch.  You can first eliminate A, because 31*31 will end in a 1, and you need a number that ends in 3.  And for the rest, you can “bracket” the answer choices with convenient math.  33 and 37 are both less than 40, and 40^2 isn’t hard to calculate. It’s 1600, which is too small, so both of those choices are out.  Then you’re left with 47 and 53, and they’re bracketed by 50, which when squared is too big: 2500.  So 47 is the only plausible answer choice, and you can select it correctly without doing any “hard” math.

Other problems allow you the same convenience.  Where factoring is involved (fractions and  roots, especially), the answer choices let you know your options.  If your last step for a problem is:
What is the cube root of 243?

(A) 3 * cube root 5

(B) 3 * cube root 7

(C) 3 * cube root 9

You don’t have to create that cube root from scratch.  You know that you’ll need to turn 243 into something*5, something*7, or something*9 in order to end up with one of those answer choices.  So you can test: 243 isn’t divisible  by 5, so A is out.  It isn’t divisible by 7, so B is out.  And it is divisible by 9: it’s 9*27, and 27 has a cube root of 3, so C is correct.

Search the answer choices for clues and you’ll find that they often provide you with quite a bit of information and direction.  Before you start working on the problem, take a look below at the answers .

2) Answer The Right Question

One of the easiest ways for the GMAT to bait you into a wrong answer is to get you to leave your work just one step short, and to employ an answer choice that matches the number at that point.  For example, if a problem asks “How many gallons are left in a 15-gallon tank if the driver leaves San Diego with a full tank and drives directly to Los Angeles, 200 miles away, using an average of 25 miles per gallon for the trip?”

Your first step is to calculate how many gallons were used, so you’ll calculate that 200 miles * 1 gallon/25 miles = 8 gallons.  And 8 will be an answer choice.  But the question isn’t asking how many gallons were used, it’s how many were left over.  And that requires you to subtract 8 gallons from the original 15 to find that 7 remain.

The GMAT knows that many examinees aren’t fully comfortable with algebra or calculation, and that it’s a relief when you finally get “an answer” on your scratchwork that matches an answer choice.  But the test will penalize you for not recognizing the context of that answer, and will reward those who don’t just “get a number” but also know what that number means. To ensure that you get full credit for your work, make sure to double-check your answer against the explicit question being asked; one way to do this is to write a big question mark (?) at the top of your GMAT noteboard so that you’re always looking at a reminder to double-check that your answer matches the exact question they asked.  The most popular wrong answer to any question on the GMAT is the right answer to the wrong question.  Make sure you answer the correct question!

3) Start With What You Know

GMAT problem solving questions are well-crafted to force uncertainty on you.  They’re designed to look intimidating or difficult, but also to reward you for leveraging assets to chip away at that uncertainty.  For example, consider the problem solving question:

&, #, and @ each represents a different digit, and & * # < 10.  What is the  value of the two-digit number &# if the following multiplication problem is true:

&#

x #& (note: the x is used here as a symbol for multiplication, not a new  variable!)

#@#

(A) 11

(B) 12

(C) 13

(D) 21

(E) 31

At first glance, this problem looks like nothing you’ve seen before!  But you do know some things here.  When multiplying two-digit numbers, the first step is to multiply the units digits.  And here, # * & provides a units digit of #.  How is that true, particularly if as stated above the full product is less than ten?  That means that & must equal 1, so that when it multiplies with another number, that other number (&) stays the same.  1 * & = &, so we can prove that & is 1.

We also know that the digits must be unique, so choice A is eliminated, and the fact that the & is 1 means that D and E are eliminated (the first digit must be a 1). So that leaves just two options, 12 and 13.  And we know that the problem, then, is either 12*21 or 13*31, and we have to have a solution with the units and hundreds digits the same.  At this point, we have two quick multiplication problems to do:

12*21  = 252  (this works)

13*31 = 403 (this does not)

So the correct answer must be 12.  The key is to begin with a first step, taking inventory and advantage of what you know and working from there.  Difficult GMAT problem solving questions often hinge on the exam’s knowledge that people are uncomfortable when they can’t see the entire process all at once, but remember that they also have to be written such that many examinees can solve them in 2 minutes. So rest assured that even if you don’t know much, you still know enough to get started.  Great test takers always begin by taking what they know and working from there; those who don’t score as well tend to focus more on what they don’t know, and struggle to get started.

Getting ready to take the GMAT soon? Veritas Prep has GMAT prep classes starting around the world next week! And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Harvard Business School Application Essay & Deadlines for 2019-2020

Several of the top U.S. business schools have already released their application essays and admissions deadlines. It’s that time of year when we start digging into them for you. Today, we’re looking at the business school with the biggest name and the earliest Round 1 deadline: Harvard Business School.

Without further ado, here are Harvard’s deadlines and essay, followed by our comments:

Harvard Business School Admissions Deadlines

Round 1: September 4, 2019

Round 2: January 6, 2020

2+2 Round: April 2, 2020

Harvard Business School Admissions Essay

There is one question for the Class of 2022:

As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program?

There is no word limit for this question. We think you know what guidance we’re going to give here. Don’t overthink, overcraft and overwrite. Just answer the question in clear language that those of us who don’t know your world can understand.

HBS kept the exact same essay prompt. When a school carries over an essay from one year to the next, that means admissions officers like what they’re seeing in the essays they receive. Based on what we’ve learned from our clients over the past several years (many of whom were admitted!), we feel very good about the advice we’ve been giving on this essay, so our advice mostly remains the same.

A familiar essay prompt. Take a look at this HBS essay prompt from 2014-2015:

“You’re applying to Harvard Business School. We can see your résumé, school transcripts, extra-curricular activities, awards, post-MBA career goals, test scores and what your recommenders have to say about you. What else would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy? (No word limit)

Notice anything similar? While the school chose not to list out the other application elements this year, the prompts are essentially the same. Regardless, it’s important to take some guidance from the way HBS once chose to phrase the essay question. Keep in mind that they do have your résumé, they do have your test scores, and they do have your transcripts. In other words, Harvard’s admissions committee isn’t looking for an essay answer that merely rehashes everything already noted on your application. If one or two of your accomplishments listed elsewhere organically find their way into your answer, that’s fine, but avoid the temptation to merely remind them of what they already know.

Your overall goal. We always tell every applicant that they need to do two things to get into HBS or any other top MBA program: 1) Stand out from other applicants (especially those with similar profiles), and 2) show how you fit with the school. If you come from a very common background (think management consultant, investment banker, or IT consultant from Asia), then you need to stand out even more, and this essay is your chance to do it. If your background already makes you unusual compared to the typical HBS class profile (perhaps you have more than the typical amount of work experience or have zero quantitative abilities to point to), then you need to use this essay to demonstrate that you will fit in and thrive at Harvard. Resist the urge to go for a gimmick, but don’t be afraid to let your hair down a bit. What brought you to this point in your life? What will you uniquely contribute to your MBA class? What do you want to do after HBS? What do you like to do outside of school and work? What gets you up in the morning?

Choose a theme. One approach we would recommend is to think of a key theme or differentiator that defines you. Recognizing that this kind of self-reflection can be a challenge for many applicants, Veritas Prep entered into a yearlong collaboration with the publishers of the Myers-Briggs personality type assessments to develop our Personalized MBA Game Plan™ assessment tool, available free to all GMAT Prep and Admissions Consulting customers. Using your Myers-Briggs personality type, this assessment helps you analyze your own strengths and weaknesses to determine the unique ways that you may stand out from the crowd. Whether or not you utilize this resource, be very mindful of the key takeaway that you want the admissions board member to remember about you.

Read more of our thoughts on the HBS essay here.

Every year we help dozens of applicants apply to Harvard Business School. Want to see if you have what it takes to get into HBS? You can get a free profile evaluation from a Veritas Prep MBA admissions expert or give us a call at (800) 962-2069. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and YouTube, and follow us on Twitter!

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