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You can find a better version of my blog at http://www.adammarkus.com/blog/.

Be sure to read my Key Posts on the admissions process. Topics include essay analysis, resumes, recommendations, rankings, and more.

January 28, 2013

Adam's Global Top MBA Rankings 2013

As I have been doing since 2008, I wanted to provide my Global Top 100 MBA Rankings for 2013.  The rankings below should hopefully be of value for both those engaged in initial school application selection and for admitted applicants who have been accepted to multiple programs and need to determine where to go.  Programs are ranked in many ways, so certainly look at other rankings lists. There is no one objective measure of an MBA programs’ value and no ranking that can account for an individual student’s positive or negative return on their investment of time and money for a graduate business education.

"Methodology": All FT “Global MBA Rankings 2013” Data was ranked in order of " Weighted Salary ($)." No other methods were employed. I have included the FT 2013 rankings as well.

Justification #1: Whatever they pay you when you graduate is the market value of your degree, all other factors are mere conjecture.

Justification #2: One may very well value an MBA beyond mere salary calculations, but salary will certainly be a factor for almost everyone.

Justification #3: Since each school reports its own data, assuming that data is good, the ranking is based on objective criteria that all programs have in common. (Note: This a big assumption because it is based on the belief that schools are not manipulating their data).

Disclaimer #1: I could use some other accumulation of salaries for this same purpose, but FT’s list is global, so I decided to use it. If your school is not included on this list of the top 100, please don't be offended. If FT ranked more programs, so would I.

Disclaimer #2: Actual market value will very much depend on your situation. The numbers below are only averages.

Disclaimer #3: Salary is but one measure of ROI. This survey does not account for relative increase in salary, opportunity costs, or other less tangible, but important factors.

Disclaimer #4: These rankings in no way measure the value of the educational experience at any of these programs, merely the reported average weighted post-MBA salary outcome.

School Selection Strategy for Those Admitted to Multiple Programs: Go to the highest salary ranked program if you want to obtain the most market value.

School Application Selection Strategy Based on Salary Approach: Simply compare salaries to rates of admission which are available for all US programs listed in BusinessWeek and US News and World Report and for some non-US programs.
1. Apply to the highest ranked programs you think you can get it into.
2. Find bargains: Schools with a high salary and a high rate of admission.
3. Avoid application to schools with a relatively low admissions rates and lower salaries.
4. Caveat emptor. Don’t assume schools are necessarily reporting data with 100% accuracy.

School Selection Strategy for Those Considering Staying Local versus Going for a Globally Recognized Brand:  If you are deciding between going to your local MBA program instead of moving to a new city and/or country, look closely at the expected post-MBA salary rates to determine which programs are worth moving for.
1. If you are planning on studying in the US and/or Europe and are a non-resident, assume the real possibility, based on present economic circumstances, that you will likely need to return to your home country because of tightened visa restrictions and limited job opportunities.
2. If your objective is stay in your present locality, closely scrutinize whether the higher-ranked, but non-local option will actually prove to be of significant benefit to you in the future. For example, an MBA alumni network that consists of a large number of local graduates may be worth significantly more to you than association with a prestigious internationally famous brand if you intend to stay local.
3.  If your professional objectives are global, you will likely benefit much more from an MBA with global brand value rather than a program with local brand value even if the post-MBA salaries are not significantly different.

One advantage of a salary-based list of programs worldwide is that it helps to see the rising global market value of MBA programs. It also means that those of us who help applicants considering worldwide application, start to pay more attention to such national leaders and not just to dominant US and European programs.
For those with a US MBA bias, this ranking should be humbling because so many of what are usually ranked quite highly in the US, don’t, at least at the weighted salary level, look as attractive as rankings might suggest.
From a school selection perspective, I think looking at the stark reality of the expected financial outcome is critical. Looking at this solely helps to put the outcome into focus. “The 100″ is only one possible way of doing this.
I am well aware that applicants don’t simply make selection choices on the basis of salary, but I think evaluating programs on this basis is one important consideration.
Finally, I would like to thank “my team” at FT for doing all of the hard work. They have this nifty way of generating excel documents that really reduced my work by hours.

The Top 100 Global MBA Programs
Adam’s Ranking School name Country Weighted salary (US$) FT Rank in 2013
1 Stanford Graduate School of Business US 194645 2
2 Harvard Business School US 187223 1
3 University of Pennsylvania: Wharton US 180772 3
4 Columbia Business School US 174347 5
5 Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad India 171188 26
6 University of Chicago: Booth US 162363 10
7 Northwestern University: Kellogg US 161269 13
8 London Business School UK 160988 4
9 MIT: Sloan US 160414 9
10 Yale School of Management US 159370 14
11 IE Business School Spain 157054 11
12 Dartmouth College: Tuck US 156765 16
13 INSEAD France / Singapore 153992 6
14 University of California at Berkeley: Haas US 151952 12
15 Cornell University: Johnson US 147799 24
16 IMD Switzerland 147380 19
16 UCLA: Anderson US 147125 23
18 IESE Business School Spain 146049 7
19 University of Cambridge: Judge UK 145169 16
19 Duke University: Fuqua US 145147 18
21 New York University: Stern US 144586 19
22 University of Virginia: Darden US 142657 35
23 University of Michigan: Ross US 140195 30
24 University of Cape Town GSB South Africa 137361 74
24 University of Oxford: Saïd UK 136609 24
26 Hong Kong UST Business School China 132685 8
27 The Lisbon MBA Portugal 132606 61
28 CEIBS China 131362 15
29 Carnegie Mellon: Tepper US 131294 43
30 Georgetown University: McDonough US 130676 40
31 University of Texas at Austin: McCombs US 128711 46
32 Cranfield School of Management UK 127911 38
33 Esade Business School Spain 126699 22
34 Emory University: Goizueta US 124918 49
35 Korea University Business School South Korea 124419 86
36 HEC Paris France 123571 21
37 Indian School of Business India 123470 34
38 University of North Carolina: Kenan-Flagler US 123004 45
39 Rice University: Jones US 122832 37
40 University of Southern California: Marshall US 120251 82
40 Warwick Business School UK 120111 28
42 Vanderbilt University: Owen US 119178 53
43 Australian School of Business (AGSM) Australia 118050 48
44 City University: Cass UK 117195 40
45 Babson College: Olin US 116212 80
46 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign US 115493 44
46 Manchester Business School UK 114769 29
48 University of Rochester: Simon US 114312 59
49 University of Hong Kong China 114119 31
50 Indiana University: Kelley US 112932 54
51 SDA Bocconi Italy 112673 39
52 University of Maryland: Smith US 112552 50
53 Hult International Business School US / UK / UAE / China 112520 57
54 Georgia Institute of Technology: Scheller US 111683 59
54 Pennsylvania State University: Smeal US 111359 77
54 Boston College: Carroll US 111051 93
57 Texas A & M University: Mays US 110765 69
57 University College Dublin: Smurfit Ireland 110099 64
59 Wisconsin School of Business US 109878 91
59 Tulane University: Freeman US 109334 81
61 Washington University: Olin US 109119 54
62 University of Washington: Foster US 108899 78
62 University of Strathclyde Business School UK 108601 87
64 Boston University School of Management US 108474 95
64 University of California at Irvine: Merage US 107582 54
66 Michigan State University: Broad US 107453 62
66 SMU: Cox US 107264 98
68 Imperial College Business School UK 107032 42
69 Melbourne Business School Australia 106887 62
69 Sungkyunkwan University SKK GSB South Korea 106864 51
71 Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Netherlands 105546 33
72 University of Iowa: Tippie US 105063 74
72 Purdue University: Krannert US 104362 68
74 CUHK Business School China 103423 27
74 University of Western Ontario: Ivey Canada 103112 78
76 Ohio State University: Fisher US 103064 72
77 College of William and Mary: Mason US 102842 97
78 Nanyang Business School Singapore 102683 32
78 University of St Gallen Switzerland 100814 82
80 George Washington University US 100600 84
81 University of Bath School of Management UK 99916 72
82 Arizona State University: Carey US 99796 87
82 Case Western Reserve University: Weatherhead US 99343 94
84 University of California, San Diego: Rady US 98556 95
84 Mannheim Business School Germany 98262 69
86 University of Toronto: Rotman Canada 97652 46
87 Coppead Brazil 96621 66
87 Lancaster University Management School UK 96080 71
89 Vlerick Business School Belgium 94829 84
90 EMLyon Business School France 94394 92
91 National University of Singapore Business School Singapore 94340 36
92 Tilburg University, TiasNimbas Netherlands 93859 64
93 York University: Schulich Canada 93207 52
94 University of South Carolina: Moore US 91878 99
95 University of British Columbia: Sauder Canada 90833 57
95 McGill University: Desautels Canada 90440 76
97 University of Alberta Canada 86666 100
98 Incae Business School Costa Rica 86060 90
99 Fudan University School of Management China 80154 89
100 Peking University: Guanghua China 77044 66

-Adam Markus
I am a graduate admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. If you would like to arrange an initial consultation, please complete my intake form. Please don't email me any essays, other admissions consultant's intake forms, your life story, or any long email asking for a written profile assessment. The only profiles I assess are those with people who I offer initial consultations to. Please note that initial consultations are not offered when I have reached full capacity or when I determine that I am not a good fit with an applicant.

January 27, 2013

IESE MBA Application Essays (2012-2013)

This is my analysis of IESE Essays (2012-2013) for admission to the MBA Class of 2015.

IESE offers an intensive case study based MBA program. It was founded with the active cooperation of HBS and its first-year is a core curriculum program where a section of approximately 70 students will take all the same classes together. While the first-year is rather rigid, the second-year allows for great flexibility including the opportunity to take courses in Spanish and opportunities to study abroad.  If you are looking for academic rigour, international diversity amongst students and faculty, want to spend two years in one the world’s greatest cities, IESE should be on your short-list.  Based on what I observed during my 2012 visit there and through talking with former clients over the years, IESE offers an intensive MBA education. The first-year at IESE is simply extremely hard.

One of the nice things that IESE does is actually provide initial feedback to potential applicants. You can get feedback on your profile by completing this feedback form. Knowing where admissions sees potential fit is a great way to determine whether to apply.

IESE is no party school. It might be in a town well known for having a good time, but if you have any thoughts of  enjoying the fun in Barcelona every evening, I think you will have to wait for the second year of the program.  During your first year at IESE, expect to be reading cases and talking cases.  Last year, I also visited IMD, another program well known for being intense. I think it fair to say that these two European non-party schools contrast with LBS and INSEAD, the other top European B-schools, but ones well known as P(arty) Schools.

My clients who apply to IESE, typically apply to some combination of the three schools I mentioned in the previous paragraph and/or US two-year programs.  You can find testimonials from 2 of the 7 clients I worked with who were admitted to IESE in past years.

IESE has 6 deadlines, 3 of which have passed at the time of writing.  I wish I had been able to get this post up earlier, but in future years I hope to have it up well in advance of the first round deadline.

Essays: Like with many top US schools, IESE has also reduced the total number of essays. Compared to IMD, INSEAD, or LBS, IESE’s essay set is small and relatively easy to answer. If you have already done the essays for IMD or INSEAD, the IESE essays will be particularly easy.

IESE Essay 1: Describe your short-term and long-term career goals (post MBA). (300 word limit)
This is a very standard goals statement. The fact that it is brief means you need to provide a future focused statement. Extensive discussion of your past experience or of why you want to attend IESE will just not fit here. However, I think it is important to explain why you want an IESE MBA at least briefly.  Your reader should both understand what your goals and have at least a clear idea, though not the details of why you want an IESE MBA.  This is the advice I have given to my clients applying to IESE.  As is generally the case, conceive of your short-term goal as a plan and your long-term goal as a vision.  Make sure that your goals intuitively connect together because you don’t have space for any sort of extensive discussion of goals that don’t connect together logically.

If you are having difficulty formulating your goals, please see my method for formulating goals, which can be found in my analysis of Stanford’s goal essay.

IESE Essay 2: Describe two substantial accomplishments and one failure in a professional or private endeavour. (600 word limit)
This is very limited word count to cover all of this. Please see my analysis of INSEAD’s substantial accomplishments (Essay 2) and Failure (Essay 3) questions as that analysis applies here.

The only differences between IESE and INSEAD is that INSEAD will give you  400 words for the accomplishments and wants one to be personal and 400 words for the failure.  In the case of IESE, you are free to distribute the 600 words in any way you like, which means you might find yourself needing say 250 words for one accomplishment, 150 for another accomplishment, and 200 words for a failure.

IESE Essay 3: I wish that the application had asked me… (200 word limit)
Think very carefully about how you want to use this.  I would avoid discussing something negative here unless absolutely necessary. Instead focus on something(s) that you think will help IESE understand why you belong in their program.

I don’t suggest using this as a place for simply explaining something negative like a bad GPA or GMAT or TOEFL, instead provide admissions with greater insight into who you are. Use this question to balance out the rest of your application by discussing some aspect of who you are that has not been sufficiently focused on.

Specifically ask yourself, What else can I tell IESE that help them understand why they should admit me?

While you will likely use this space for an essay that might be utilized for another application, it is critical that IESE not get the impression that you have done so. As with any school, I think it is important that IESE admissions gets the impression that you specifically tailored this essay to their school.

Since you have already discussed your goals, I would not suggest using the essay for that purpose. You may want to use this as a contribution type essay where you discuss one or more ways you can contribute to the program. If you decide to write a contribution type answer here, please see my analysis of LBS Questions 3-5.

However you answer this question, it should give IESE further reason to want to interview you.

My post on IESE interviews will be coming soon.

-Adam Markus
I am a graduate admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. If you would like to arrange an initial consultation, please complete my intake form. Please don't email me any essays, other admissions consultant's intake forms, your life story, or any long email asking for a written profile assessment. The only profiles I assess are those with people who I offer initial consultations to. Please note that initial consultations are not offered when I have reached full capacity or when I determine that I am not a good fit with an applicant.

January 20, 2013

Kellogg MBA Admissions Interviews

This post has been greatly expanded from prior versions and has been updated for admission to the Kellogg MBA Class of 2015.

Just as with essays, interviews for the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management MBA applicant interviews are all about fit.I could not really tell you how many Kellogg mock sessions I have conducted since 2001, when I started working as an admissions consultant, because the number is simply too huge. Given the fact that Kellogg has an open interview policy, more applicants will interview there in any year that anywhere else. As I work with clients from all over the world, I have discovered that Kellogg interviews are pretty consistent worldwide, both for the  good and bad.  

Know your Resume!
You need to know your resume completely as you will most likely be asked about content in it. Review it carefully and consider what your interviewer might ask you to explain more thoroughly. If it is on your resume, it is fair game. Kellogg interviews are conducted blind, so your interview will not have read your application. The only thing they will have is your resume. Most interview reports indicate extensive questions about the contents of the resume. As such it serves form main functions:

A First Impression: Most interviewers will have your resume even before they meet you. For resume-only interviews, it really is their first impression of you.  Make sure your resume is really designed for ease of use by the interviewer.  One of my objectives when helping a client with a resume is always to focus on how effective the resume is for this purpose.

Agenda Setting Device: To a greater or lesser extent, a resume has an agenda setting function in many interviews.  While schools will provide interviewers with varying levels of guidance about what questions to ask, the resume may very well form the basis for some of the questions that you receive. 

Booby Trap:  The resume can blow-up in your face if you are not careful.  Failure to review your own resume closely prior to interviewing can put you in an awkward position if you are not fully prepared to discuss everything on it. Make sure you know your numbers and dates. Make sure you can discuss anything on your resume.

Past Experience Answers: Since you have presumably highlighted many of the key things you would actually want to discuss on your resume, it is in essence, a primary source for your answers to past experience questions. Especially when I working with a client with limited English ability, I will tell them to practice explaining "Who What Why How When" questions related to their resume.

In addition, since you might get asked to "Tell me something about yourself that is not covered on your resume," you can use the resume to figure out what that would be.

You need to be prepared to answer routine MBA interview questions
Most reported Kellogg interviews simply consist of them. See my previous post on MBA Application Interview Strategy as well the list of questions below. You should expect to have to answer questions regarding teamwork (Examples where you demonstrated it, how you handled problems on teams, and how you would handle a low-performing team member in group work at Kellogg are common examples).  Be absolutely comfortable explaining core questions regarding fit (Why Kellogg? Why the Kellogg community is right for you?  Contributions?) as these always come up.   Be ready to ask questions and obviously make those questions fit to the person you are talking (admissions officer, student, or alumni). My colleague, Steve Green, has collected the following common questions:

RESUME: Career
  • Tell me about yourself. / Walk me through your resume. PROBE ANSWERS
    • Tell me about [particular accomplishment]
    • Tell me about [particular promotion or change]
    • What is missing from your resume that you'd like to tell me about?
  • What led you to your first job?
  • What made you change careers? (+ Follow-up)
  • Why did you decide to switch into the field that you chose?
  • How have you grown over the years?
  • Tell me about what’s challenging in your current role. (+ Follow-up)
  • Why did you choose ________________ for your career?
  • What are your current responsibilities?
  • What do you clients say about you?
  • What do you outside of work?
RESUME: Education
  • Why did you choose your undergraduate school?
  • Why did you choose your major?
  • Tell me something about your undergraduate experience?
  • What was your legacy at your undergrad school?
  • Why did you choose ________________ for your career?
  • What are your current responsibilities?
  • What do you clients say about you?
  • What do you outside of work?
  • Tell me about your teamwork experience.
  • Describe a difficult team situation you have had to deal with in the past?
  • Tell me about another teamwork experience.
  • What would you do when a team member wasn't pulling his own weight?
  • What would your teammates say about you?
  • Discuss a team failure you were part of.
  • Who do you admire as a leader?
  • Have you held leadership positions at work?
  • Tell me something about your leadership experience?
  • Have you faced any challenges as a leader? How did you deal with them?
  • How has your leadership style evolved since college?
  • What kind of leader are you?
  • Why do you want an MBA?
  • Why now?
  • Why Kellogg?
  • Are you good with numbers?
  • What are your goals?
  • How will Kellogg help you achieve those goals?
  • How do you envision yourself being involved in the Kellogg community?
  • What clubs will you participate in?
  • How will you enhance the diversity of the Kellogg class?
  • What unique contribution do you bring to Kellogg?
  • What other schools did you apply to?
  • If you got into all of them, which would you attend?
  • If you could hit the reset button, what would you do differently?
  • Anything that may be considered a weakness in your application you would like to explain or expand on?
  • How have you grown over the years?
  • What are your two main strengths?
  • What are your two main weaknesses?
  • If time and money were not an issue, what would you do?
  • What three words would you use to describe yourself?
  • Who is a good negotiator?
  • Have you ever been in a negotiation where it wasn’t win – win, rather, win-lose or lose-lose.
  • What do people misperceive about you in first meeting?
  • If I asked your colleagues about you, what would they say? What feedback have you used to do better?
  • What questions do you have for me? / Do you have any questions for me?

In MBA Application Interview Strategy I discuss some specific ways to prepare for many of the types of questions discussed above. Additionally, since some Kellogg interviews involve behavioral interview questions, I would suggest reviewing my post,  MIT Sloan MBA Interviews.  MIT Sloan MBA Interviews
will also introduce you to the STAR method for telling stories, so if you need help in telling stories (especially ones about teamwork and leadershIp), I recommend reviewing that post.

Reread your essays!
Given that your Kellogg essays should contain key content to answer many of the above interview questions and because no interviewer will have read your file, feel free to make complete use of your essays for your interview.  It surprises sometimes when I am doing mock interviews with a client and they have not reviewed their own essays very much. This a core repository of content. It will need to be altered for purposes of the interview, but you should use it!

Reported interview length could be from 30 to 60 minutes, with most reported interviews taking 30-45 minutes.

Lack of Consistency in Kellogg interviews
As you should know Kellogg’s new motto is THINK BRAVELY, but as far as  interviews go, I would say their motto must be INTERVIEW INCONSISTENTLYWhile most Kellogg interviews are moderately difficult in terms of the kind of questions that are asked and the attitude of the interviewers (admissions officers, alumni, and students) is professional and friendly, other types of interviews are possible and not uncommon.   Given the huge number of alumni interviewers involved in this process, this is especially a problem with alumni interviews whether held on a Kellogg Interview Day (many applicants and interviewers all meeting at the same place for one-to-one interviews) or just through an arranged one-to-one off-campus interview. Even on-campus interviews with students lack some consistency as I will discuss below.  Only interviews with admissions officers fit into some predictable norm of moderately difficult and professional. Some types of dysfunctional Kellogg interviews:

The Cake walk: The lovely expression “as easy as cake” can be applied to some international interviews that I have heard about. This can be nice for the applicant, of course, but surely is unfair for other applicants. A cake walk interview consists of some of the standard Kellogg interview questions, but everything is very surface level and most of the interview is just nice conversation. The interviewer then prepares a sterling evaluation of the applicant even in terms of areas that were not necessarily addressed in the interview because the men involved (not always, but typically from what I can see this involves men and is just another form of immediate locker room type bonding). If you find you are having an apparently very easy interview, just make sure you work as many key points about yourself into the conversation while maintaining a positive and friendly feeling about the whole thing.

“You really don’t fit because I don’t like you”: The worst reports I have heard about have involved Kellogg alumni interviewers who expressed their dislike for the applicant. The interviewer uses highly judgmental language that often barely hides bias. This bias might be gender-based, class-based, or industry-function based. We are not talking here about merely an agressive interviewer, but rather an interviewer who actively looks down on the applicant.  Frankly I have never read or been about such an interview being conducted in the US, but I do know about such unpleasant interviews conducted through Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The only thing I can suggest during such an interview is that you hold your own, don’t cave against bully you are dealing with, but respond aggressively in defending yourself and why you belong at Kellogg. The abuse of power is an ugly thing. If you feel you have been treated particularly ba dly, you should consider reporting the details of this to Kellogg admissions.

English not spoken: One of the best reasons to eliminate alumni interviews completely especially when an admissions office is trying to get a report on the English ability of the applicant is because alumni interviewers don’t always conduct some or even most of the interview in English. I have client reports of this from around the world. This can be to the advantage or disadvantage of the applicant.  If an applicant is trying to really highlight their English communication ability, having an interview that is not conducted in English might not be particularly helpful. In addition, speaking in another language is often a gateway to the two previous types dysfunctional interviews I mentioned above.  I have no specific suggestions for what you can do when an interview is not conducted in English if you think the interview is going well. If you think the interview is not going well, you can consider this grounds for informing Kellogg admissions. Si nce Kellogg admissions waives some interviews and subsequently conducts telephone interviews, I would not be surprised if your interview was initially waived. Most applicants will not want to complain about an interviewer, but if you feel you were treated badly, it is worth considering. Advice for international applicants who really want to highlight their English communication skills: Go interview on-campus because campus interviews will be conducted in English. 

Bored, hungover, busy, and/or tired: Most reported student interviews are not like like this, but it is no surprise that some of these interviews involve student interviewers who wish they were some where else doing something else (studying, sleeping, recruiting activities, etc.).  Not fun if you have traveled to Evanston and find your interviewer is just not that engaged in the process. If your interviewer seems less than engaged, just make the possible case for yourself and don’t let their indifference get to you. The worst thing you can do is react to someone else’s lack of energy.  You must maintain your enthusiasm even in the fact of complete indifference. Just imagine you are talking to a mirror and ignore the interviewer’s lack of engagement. I don’t think you can really complain to admissions about this issue. Just be aware that might happen.

While I think it is nice that Kellogg basically interviews all applicants (some applicants are waived initially from interviewing but ultimately do a telephone interview), it does come at the cost of consistency.  I do think that putting all applicants on level playing field means giving them an interview that is conducted with a fairly high degree of consistency.  Of course, the moment alumni are involved at any school, consistency tends to get lost unless the school really works hard to maintain standards and weed out bad interviewers.  I know many alumni do a great job and should be praised for their involvement with the process, but unfortunately this is not always the case.   I have pointed these issues out so you are prepared for the worst case scenarios. Hopefully you will not experience them.

Best of luck with admission to Kellogg’s Class of 2015!

-Adam Markus
I am a graduate admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. If you would like to arrange an initial consultation, please complete my intake form. Please don't email me any essays, other admissions consultant's intake forms, your life story, or any long email asking for a written profile assessment. The only profiles I assess are those with people who I offer initial consultations to. Please note that initial consultations are not offered when I have reached full capacity or when I determine that I am not a good fit with an applicant.

January 14, 2013

New York University Stern MBA Essays for Fall 2013 Admission

File this one under “better late than never.” 2012 was a busy year.  In this post I analyze NYU Stern MBA program’s essay questions for fall 2013 Admission.
New York University Stern School of Business MBA essay questions’ web page also includes great tips which you can find here.  Every year, I have seen some potential applicants look at Stern’s essay questions and simply decide it is better to apply elsewhere. Actually, I have found myself frequently advocating application to Stern as part of a school selection strategy as a result. While Stern’s questions are unique, especially Essay 3, they maybe significantly less daunting than what you initially think.

Essay 1. Professional Aspirations (750 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
(a) Why pursue an MBA (or dual degree) at this point in your life?
(b) What actions have you taken to determine that Stern is the best fit for your MBA experience?
(c) What do you see yourself doing professionally upon graduation?
What I really like about this essay is that Stern is doing all the organizational work for you. If you are also applying to Columbia, you will find significant overlap between Stern Essay 1 and Columbia Essay 1 (both parts a and b) except that the Stern question does not involve the long-term and that you have to  directly explain why now is the right time for getting an MBA (you need do that for Columbia too, but NYU clearly wants a very direct and extended answer to this question).  You can find my Columbia essay analysis here

(a) Why pursue an MBA (or dual degree) at this point in your life?
Clearly you need to show why given your present position and future goals, now is the right time to get an MBA.   For more about goals, see my analysis of other schools goals statements, such as Stanford’s.

(b) What actions have you taken to determine that Stern is the best fit for your MBA experience?
Here you need to clearly indicate how you have become informed about the program. Stern admissions does a very good job of explaining their application. If you can attend a presentation at Stern or at least attend an admissions event, that is most helpful because getting into Stern is all about fit. Visiting is obviously best, attending their admissions event is also good, and so is making an effort to communicate with students and alumni.  Obviously reading their website is important, but that is not enough. Make sure you listened to their podcasts. Making a connection to alumni is always a good idea. Be specific about the steps you have taken. Feel free to use names of admissions officers, alumni, and students that you met. I would try to limit this section to 50-100 words to save room for the more substantial components of the questions.

(b) Describe what most excites you about Stern from both an academic and extracurricular perspective.
  You need to establish fit between yourself and Stern by highlighting those aspects of the program that you truly love.  Don’t just state them and don’t discuss too many things. Instead focus on 2-4 aspects of the program that you can relate to your goals, learning style, personality, or life style. My suggestion is to highlight a specific aspect of the program and explain your connection to it so that admissions really learns about you through your discussion of Stern. See my analysis of Columbia Essay 1b because this is essentially the same thing.

(c) What do you see yourself doing professionally upon graduation?
Use at least 1/3 of your essay to explain both your post-MBA career goal and your long-term career goals. The goals you outline should connect very directly with  why you need an MBA now (a), what you intend to gain from Stern  (b) above as well as in Essay 2. I suggest you have a specific plan that can is well aligned with what you can learn at Stern and intuitively connects to the two possible paths your career may take in the longer term.

Essay 2. Your Two Paths (500 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font) The mission of the Stern School of Business is to develop people and ideas that transform the challenges of the 21st century into opportunities to create value for business and society. Given today's ever-changing global landscape, Stern seeks and develops leaders who thrive in ambiguity, embrace a broad perspective and think creatively about the range of ways they can have impact.
(a) Describe two different and distinct paths you could see your career taking long term. How do you see your two paths unfolding?
(b) How do your paths tie to the mission of NYU Stern?
(c) What factors will most determine which path you will take?
This essay gives you chance to consider different long-term goals. As long as both goals align with what you wrote in Essay 1, they might be quite different. This is an opportunity to imagine different future for yourself.

(a) Describe two different and distinct paths you could see your career taking long term. How do you see your two paths unfolding?
Regarding the formulation of goals, if you are having trouble doing it, I suggest reading  my analysis of other schools goals statements, such as Stanford’s. As I mentioned above, the two paths can be quite different.

(b) How do your paths tie to the mission of NYU Stern?
Explain how your  two paths align with Stern’s values.  Going beyond the mission statement itself, you might want to consider how your goals align with other aspects of Stern.

(c) What factors will most determine which path you will take?
This is the critical thinking part of the question. Here are some things to think about to help you formulate an answer:
Think about what externalities might impact your selection of career paths?  For example, economic or technological changes. Even, the role of luck is important to consider.
Think about what personal choices you make might effect your career path?  Think about life events (marriage, kids), geography (Where you do want to live?),  personal motivation (What really makes you happy?), and values (Where can you have the biggest positive impact?).

Essay 3. Personal Expression
Please describe yourself to your MBA classmates. You may use almost any method to convey your message (e.g. words, illustrations). Feel free to be creative.
If you submit a non-written piece for Essay 3 (i.e., artwork or multimedia) or if you submit Essay 3 via mail, please upload a brief description of your submission with your online application.Please note the following guidelines and restrictions:
Your submission becomes the property of NYU Stern and cannot be returned for any reason.
If you submit a written essay, it should be 500 words maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font. If you submit a video or audio file, it should be five minutes maximum.
If you prepare a multimedia submission, you may mail a CD, DVD or USB flash drive to the Admissions Office. These are the only acceptable methods of submission. Please do not submit an internet link to any websites or to a video hosting service such as YouTube.
The Admissions Committee reserves the right to request an alternate Essay 3 if we are unable to view your submission.
Do not submit anything perishable (e.g. food), or any item that has been worn (e.g. clothing).
Mailed materials must be postmarked by the application deadline date. Please follow our mail and labeling instructions.
Please note that mailed Essay 3 packages are subject to size restrictions. Submissions that exceed the stated size restrictions will not be accepted for review by the Admissions Committee. Please see the table below for the maximum package size guidelines:Packaging Type Dimensions: Metric Dimensions: Non-metric
Box 36cm x 31cm x 8cm 14" x 12" x 3"
Cylindrical tube 8cm x 91cm 3" x 36"
Triangular tube 97cm x 16cm x 16 cm x 16 cm 38" x 6" x 6" x 6"

This is the NYU question. It is the one that seems to stop many applicants from applying to Stern. In my experience, I have found that strong applicants who are willing to put the time into this question are often well rewarded (invited for interviews, admitted), but those who slap something together are often rejected.
To be honest, I have found a creative essay to be as effective as an “arts and crafts project.” If you think you can answer the question most effectively by writing an essay, just do that. I have had clients admitted to NYU who have done both and all can say is that the key factor to their success was providing a response that really answered the question.

Depending on what you have written for such questions as  Columbia Essay 2, Chicago Essay 3, Kellogg Essay 1, UCLA Essay 1, you might already have all the content you need.

In past years, I have had clients who have done slide presentations for NYU, but given that Chicago Booth now requires one, if you are applying to Chicago and Stern and state that on your NYU application, don’t do a PowerPoint for Stern because the NYU admissions people will assume you are trying to cut corners. After all, one reason NYU asks this question is because they want you to show your commitment to NYU by putting time into it.

In general, anytime a school has a non-standard question, you should really keep in mind that they are looking for answers that demonstrate an applicant’s willingness to put time into it.

Regarding time, try to give yourself significant time before the deadline if you are going to make anything from scratch and not write an essay. In my experience, most successful versions of this question take more time and drafts.  Of course, some applicants can do it right quickly (or might have to do it quickly), but since you are trying to be creative and also to effectively introduce yourself to your classmates, you may need more time.

One very common initial error with this question is to focus on being creative at the exclusion of thinking about the purpose: to introduce yourself to your classmates. Keep in mind that your objective is to create a positive image of yourself that would make an excellent first impression on your classmates. It may be creative, but make sure that it also leaves admissions with a clear understanding of what positive impression of yourself you are communicating. It is your job to provide a sufficiently clear message regardless of the way you creatively present yourself.

Some Questions to get you brainstorming:
1. What do you want Stern Admissions to know about you that would positively impact your chances for admission?
2. What major positive aspects of your life have not been effectively INTERPRETED to the admissions committee in other parts of the application?
3. If you were meeting people that would you be working closely with for two years and that you might want as a part of your lifetime professional network, what would you tell them about yourself to create a strong first impression?
4. Why do people like you?
5. If there was one story about yourself that you think would really help admissions understand you and want to admit you, what is it?
6. Do you have a personal interest (painting and poetry for example) that would work effectively?
Finally, keep in mind that what you write here should not duplicate the content of  your answers to the first two questions or anything else in the application, instead it should really provide admissions with a new perspective on why you belong at Stern.

Essay 4. Additional Information: (optional)
Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee. This may include current or past gaps in employment, your undergraduate record, plans to retake the GMAT and/or TOEFL or any other relevant information.
If you are unable to submit a recommendation from a current supervisor, you must explain your reason in this essay.
If you are a re-applicant from last year, please explain how your candidacy has improved since your last application.
If you are applying to a dual degree program, please explain your decision to pursue a dual degree.
If you are a re-applicant, this is where your reapplication essay goes and clearly this should be a very positive and wonderful essay that states clearly how you are much stronger candidate.
Under no circumstances include an essay clearly written for another school. NYU did not ask you write a whole essay about an important leadership experience you had, and since they did not ask for it, we can assume that is not what they need.

Unless you are perfect there is a reasonable likelihood that you will have something to write about here.  If you don’t think you have anything, just ask yourself the following questions:
1. What is the weakest thing about my application content?  Do I have anything that I should say about that? Would it be obvious to a reader or something only I could know? If you can identify something that you think would likely be obvious to a reader, write about it.
2. What is the weakest thing about me as an applicant? Do I have anything that I should say about that? Would it be obvious to a reader or something only I could know? If you can identify something that you think would likely be obvious to a reader, write about it.
3. Is there anything at all that I did not have space in my essays to clarify?  If so, write about it.
4. What else do I really want to highlight about myself? There has to be something.  Actually even if you write about something negative, you might also want to answer this question.  Anyone should be able to answer this question.

Best of luck with your application to join the Class of 2015!

-Adam Markus
I am a graduate admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. If you would like to arrange an initial consultation, please complete my intake form. Please don't email me any essays, other admissions consultant's intake forms, your life story, or any long email asking for a written profile assessment. The only profiles I assess are those with people who I offer initial consultations to. Please note that initial consultations are not offered when I have reached full capacity or when I determine that I am not a good fit with an applicant.
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