With the end of one year and the start of a new one, people often take stock of what they’ve done and what they could have done. We at Bell Curves are no different, and one thing we are very pleased to have done this past year is visit many organizations and institutions to help their students understand how to prepare for standardized tests. The organizations and institutions we work with share our mission of increasing diversity in higher education, and we’re always thrilled when they invite us to speak with their members or students.
Today’s guest post is co-authored by Pauline Jennett, a Doctoral Candidate in the Educational Leadership Field. A former associate director of admissions from Harvard Business School, Ms. Jennett evaluated and interviewed domestic and international applicants. Prior to joining The MBA Exchange as an Admissions Consultant, she served as director of recruitment and admissions for non-profit career development organization Management Leadership for Tomorrow, an alumni officer for Boston University, and in sales and marketing management roles with Coca-Cola, Gillette, Procter & Gamble, and IBM. Ms. Jennett earned her MBA from The Wharton School, where she was a member of the Dean’s Graduate Student Advisory group and studied at Instituto de Estudies Superiores de la Empresa (IE). She has a master of divinity degree cum laude from Boston University, and bachelor of business administration degree from Baruch College where she was a Baruch Scholar. She has traveled to 36 countries on 5 continents and is conversant in Spanish.
In my educational leadership doctoral program, I am taking a fascinating class on Psychological Testing. In the textbook “Assessment Procedures for Counselors and Helping Professionals” (Drummond, 2010), the authors note that “despite the lack of a clear definition of intelligence, assessing intelligence typically encompasses measuring one’s ability to understand complex ideas, adapt effectively to the environment, think abstractly, learn from experience, learn quickly, and engage in various forms of reasoning.” Any student who has ever taken the SAT, GMAT, GRE, or LSAT, among other school admissions exams, can see remnants of these factors in the testing sections and question paradigms.
EssaySnark is honored for the opportunity to share thoughts on MBA admissions with Bell Curve’s GMAT students today! We’re going to tackle a subject head-on to debunk some myths about race and ethnicity and how it can impact your chances for getting in.
We get questions sometimes from people who are thinking about applying to business school. They hear that there’s an advantage if you’re a minority candidate, and they wonder if that’s them. The color of their skin is non-white, so you might think that they automatically fall into that “minority” category. If you ask the U.S. government, then anybody who’s not Caucasian is a minority – you can see the CDC’s definition here. If you’re not a white dude (or chick) then doesn’t that mean you’ll have an easier time getting into bschool?
Maybe. It depends. Here’s how it breaks down:
Today we’re continuing our Q&A series with Bell Curves alumni who are currently pursuing or just recently finished their MBAs. Recent posts have included Q&As with Goreleigh Willis and Crystal Forde about their first year MBA experiences. This time around Kibra Yemane shares some of her insights and advice on her MBA experience. Kibra completed her MBA at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.
I applied to business school in order to transition to a career in Human Resources. Prior to business school, I worked for a public accounting firm for about six years. While I enjoyed my time, I also realized that I was more passionate about talent management, recruiting, diversity – areas that typically fall under the HR umbrella. When I did some more research, I realized that more and more companies placed an emphasis on the HR function – and were interested in training the next crop of HR leaders through leadership development programs. When I realized one of the requirements for this program was an advanced degree, I knew the MBA was the next logical step for me.
Last year we posted several Q&As with former Bell Curves students (Lauren Sickles, Gabe Perez, Rhomaro Powell, Denitresse Burns, and Radina Russell) in which they shared their experiences in business school and how it benefited their careers. The insights were well-received, so we decided to conduct a few more with a slightly different focus. This time around we were interested in hearing from MBAs that recently completed their first year.
For our first offering in this installment, Goreleigh Willis shares his experiences and insights.
Prior to pursuing his MBA at Cornell University’s Johnson School, Goreleigh was an Associate with the Private Bank at J.P. Morgan in New York City. For five years, he worked with families to manage their wealth, as a Banker Analyst, and more recently as a Trust Officer. Previously, he spent four years in management consulting within the firm. At Johnson, Goreleigh is a Vice President of the Old Ezra Finance Club. He is also the Vice President of Alumni Affairs for the Black Graduate Business Association and a Vice President of the Johnson Soccer Club. Goreleigh will be an investment banking Associate at Lazard this summer.
Goreleigh holds a B.A. in Economics and Political Science with Honors distinction from Swarthmore College.
What was the most surprising aspect of your first year in an MBA Program?
The most surprising thing for me was the pace of Johnson. Many of the core courses are 8 weeks long, so there is no time to fall behind. Even though I heard from the second year students beforehand, it was still a challenge to balance academic work with recruiting. Efficient time management is crucial!
Today’s guest post is from Nicole Lindsay, who holds a JD/MBA from University of Virginia and is a former MBA admissions officer at Yale School of Management. Nicole Lindsay is the Founder of DiversityMBAPrep.com, an online community that supports women and minorities in applying to MBA programs.
Earlier this summer, a few MBA programs sent admissions insiders into a tizzy when they decided to revamp their application essay questions. Who knew that a move from four required essays to two could be so disruptive!
Business schools experiment with their applications every year and receive little notice from national media. This year is different because the changes came from the “Big Three” (Harvard, Wharton, Stanford). Application shifts also came from Kellogg, UVA Darden, Columbia, MIT Sloan, and Iowa (which seems to experiment every year. Last year the school got national publicity when one essay question sought a 140-word tweet response). Ultimately, all MBA programs are looking for better ways to get the most pertinent information with as few hurdles to applicants as possible. Business schools want to receive more applications so a lot of thought goes into their application process. Many pundits speculated that this year’s application changes were an attempt to outsmart admissions consultants. I disagree – the formula for gaining admission to business school is no different than in years past.
MBA applications are trending toward reduced essay requirements, either by requiring fewer essays or lowering maximum word count. These changes signal to me that schools are adapting their application components to more closely align with the real weight that each is given in the admissions decision. Transcripts and GMAT directly tie to a candidate’s academic readiness so they are given significant weight. In the same manner, the resume (work experience) and recommendations link to career and leadership potential, which are critical admissions elements. Over the years, essays have become a catch-all without a specific connection to the factors that drive the admissions decision. Going forward, expect that schools will use essays to (a) learn about your career goals (some will ask this in the application form as a short-answer question) and (b) assess your school fit (examples: questions around teamwork, ethics or exploring a statement or video).
Here’s how I suggest that you approach your MBA applications:
- Schools want you to submit strong applications so understand what each question is really asking you. On school and other websites, look for tips and suggestions from the Admissions Committee on the application components, particularly the essays. Feel free to get the opinions of others, but remember, they are simply speculating, while Admissions Committee members actually know.
- Take a holistic approach to the application –most of this year’s application changes have come in the essay component. Most schools are opting for shorter essays – this just means you need to get to the point faster. Essays are just one of several parts of an application; you must use every inch of the application to communicate your story. If you are afforded fewer words in a career goal essay to discuss your background, use your resume to highlight accomplishments that relate to your future aspirations.
- Don’t sweat new application changes – all applicants are required to complete the same application for admission, so don’t worry about what previous applicants had to do. Nothing has really changed in the admissions process – business schools admit candidates that are academically prepared, with tremendous career and leadership potential and are a fit for their MBA programs.
Good luck with your applications!
This past weekend, on March 3rd, Bell Curves had the opportunity to participate in ALPFA’s Regional Student Symposium in New York. The Symposium was held at KPMG, who was also the lead sponsor of the event. Engaging workshops and panel discussions provided students with the chance to learn the ins and outs of job searches, including interviewing skills and awareness of corporate culture. Students were able to learn how to maximize their chances landing that all-important internship in today’s challenging economic environment.
We had the chance to sit in on one of the workshops, run by two managers from Macy’s, who provided some valuable insights on etiquette in the corporate environment. This workshop reinforced how beneficial membership in professional and student organizations can be. The ability, especially for low-income, first-generation college students, and under-represented minorities, to draw on the experiences and insights of larger networks is invaluable.
A few weeks ago, co-founder Akil Bello presented the above topic at GMAC’s Annual Industry Conference. The session was well attended and garnered positive responses from many of the industry professionals in attendance.
With over 20 years of test-preparation experience, as well as a focus in the last 10 on helping underrepresented minorities excel at standardized tests, Akil was well-positioned to provide the insights interested parties where there to hear. After significant research, and analysis of a wealth of survey data provided by GMAC, Akil brought his observations and conclusions to sunny San Diego.
Each year about this time I travel to several universities and speak to undergraduates about B-School and the GMAT, and each year I’m surprised by how much people don’t know about existing graduate school opportunities. So today’s blog is dedicated to shedding some light on an organization that every aspiring B-School applicant should investigate: The Consortium.
The Word on the Street
First, let’s look at the word on the street about the Consortium. This is what a few of my GMAT students had to say about it: