Tag Archives: wharton

Applying to Business School: Which Round is Best?

If you are applying to business school, you may be weighing the pros and cons of applying during Round 1, Round 2, Round 3, or in some cases, even Round 4. If you apply during an early round, will your application be measured against the most competitive and prepared students? On the other hand, if you apply during a later round, will it be too late and will most spots be filled?

Which Round is Right for me?

Most business schools offer three application deadlines, and a few offer a fourth. The application dates for Round 1 (early September or early October) versus Round 2 (early January) are typically three months apart. Rounds 3 and 4 deadlines tend to occur in late March to early April. Below is a snapshot of the application round deadlines for the top 20 business schools, according to U.S. News & World Report.

2016-2017 Top 20 Business Schools Application Deadlines for Full-Time MBA Programs
In order of US News & World Report Ranking

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Early Admissions: Early Action and Early Decision

An Early Action round is only available at some schools, and this round is usually in early September or October. Schools that provide this application option allow students who are reapplying or who are sure they have selected their top choice to demonstrate their interest by submitting an early, non-binding application. Early Action also usually includes consideration for merit scholarships. Columbia Business School offers a binding Early Decision option for students willing to commit to attend if accepted.

Benefits of Applying Round 1 or 2

Applying during Round 1 has many benefits:

  • Every spot in the class remains open
  • The admissions staff reading your application is just beginning the process and has not yet been inundated by applications
  • You will hear your admissions decision earlier and be able to make future plans earlier
  • If you are denied from your top-schools in Round 1, you’ll still have time to submit applications to your second-tier schools in Round 2
  • Financial aid and scholarships are most plentiful in Round 1
  • More on-campus housing options are available
  • International applicants need more time to process a visa application

The bottom line, however, is that you should apply during Rounds 1 or 2, at whichever point you can submit your best application. Do not delay and wait a whole year to apply just so that you can apply in Round 1. If you need more time to raise your GMAT score, make campus visits, or enhance your career goals and fill educational gaps, it is perfectly fine to apply during Round 2.

For example, the Wharton MBA Program encourages all first-time applicants to apply in Round 1 or 2 as the majority of the class is selected during these rounds. Harvard also urges applicants to apply during Round 1 or 2. Yale, similarly, encourages students to apply during Rounds 1 and 2, but goes even further, stating that there is no difference at Yale in selectivity between Rounds 1 and 2.

In a few cases, though, the difference between Rounds 1 and 2 is meaningful. Stanford’s admissions website states, “If you plan to apply in round one or two, we strongly encourage you to apply in round one. Over the last few years, the number of applications we receive in round two has increased, making it more competitive.” Stanford also gives the opportunity to attend Admit Weekend for Round 1 and 2, but not Round 3.

Dual Degree Programs

If you are planning to apply for a dual degree, there are some programs, such as Wharton’s MBA/JD, which require you to do so by Round 1 or 2. Other schools, such as Harvard, allow you to apply for the MBA/JD joint degree during any of the three rounds. If you are interested in a dual degree, be sure to check the specific admissions deadlines of your top choices.

Planning and Preparation

When considering application deadlines, you should take into account the length of time that you need to prepare. According to Judith Hodara, the former director of MBA admissions for the Wharton School, prospective MBA applicants should begin to prepare six to nine months before the MBA application deadline. This includes securing letters of recommendation, preparing your resume, writing essays, taking the GMAT, completing any additional coursework, and gathering any other application materials.

Putting together all of the pieces of your MBA application and knowing when to apply can be a daunting process. Collegiate Gateway is skilled in the art of helping students put their best foot forward. Feel free to contact us—we’re always happy to help!

Applying to B-School: Do You Have the Right Work Experience?

MBA applicants are evaluated according to a variety of factors, many of which are common to nearly all admissions processes – grades, test scores, personal statements. Unique to the process, however, is the significant role of work experience. But what particular kind of work experience are B-Schools looking for? And how much? Do my internships count? What about my time at graduate school? Or the year I spent in the Peace Corps? Why do I have so many questions?

Take a deep breath. Collegiate Gateway is here to help you make sense of it all.

What is the desired length of work experience MBA programs like to see in candidates?

Though seemingly a basic question, there really is no straightforward answer – how much work experience you’ll need will depend a great deal on who you are, and how your experiences contribute to the total picture of you as an applicant. For the purpose of the MBA application, you’ll want to evaluate your work experience qualitatively, rather than quantitatively. The question is not so much “ how many years have you worked?” but “what have you accomplished?” and “how has your work experience helped you define your future career path?” There is no universal “right time” to apply. In the words of Wharton’s admissions office:

“[W]e evaluate work experience not in terms of years, but the depth and breadth of an individual’s position, his or her contributions to the work environment, and level of responsibility and progression.”

That said, students at top business schools typically matriculate with at least one or two years of professional experience in the form of full-time, paid positions, though different programs will have different norms and standards. While there are some schools that have hard-and-fast requirements, like Fordham, which requires at least two years of work experience, most impose little or no formal requirements. The Class of 2015 at Stanford Business School ranged from 0-12 years of work experience, with an average of four years. The average student admitted to Wharton has worked for five or six years, but the program does accept exceptional early career candidates with limited or no experience (provided they exhibit strong managerial and professional potential).

Harvard’s MBA program, on the other hand, encourages college seniors to apply, but with the expectation that they will be offered deferred admission, conditional upon acquiring full-time work experience. In fact, Harvard has recently developed a special “2+2 Program” for a group of 100-125 students who are graduating college or graduate school without having had full-time work experience. The program especially targets students who have majored in areas such as science, technology, engineering and math, holding about half of the 2+2 spots for such students, with the remainder open to a broad range of undergraduate majors.

In an interview with US News, Graham Richmond, a graduate and former admissions official at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and co-founder of MBA admissions consulting firm Clear Admit, encourages students to think less about the number of years they’ve worked, and more about the quality of their “professional profiles” as a whole:

“In all cases, candidates should ask themselves several key questions: Have I made a significant impact on my company, clients, or co-workers? Have I been recognized in some way for my efforts on the job? Have I learned all that I can in my current role? Are other areas of my candidacy (academic profile, community service, etc.) strong enough such that I may be relatively less reliant on my work experience in the admissions process?”

What qualifies as work experience? Are there specific kinds of experience that MBA programs prefer?

In almost all cases, work experience is fairly broadly defined. Harvard states that work experience consists simply of “opportunities in which students have been able to develop their professional and leadership skills.”

The truth is, top business schools seek a well-rounded student body, and regularly accept students from a wide variety of both traditional and non-traditional backgrounds, from Peace Corps workers, to venture capitalists, to brand managers.

Rather than focus on specific categories of work experiences, programs are more interested in applicants’ roles, responsibilities and achievements. According to Richmond, “…work experience—whether full time, part time, interning, etc—doesn’t have to be paid work experience in order to be valuable in the admissions process per se. It’s more about what you have accomplished, how you have led, who you have collaborated with and how you have grown.” And leadership can certainly be demonstrated by a variety of extracurricular and community service activities in areas you are truly passionate about.

Generally, however, full-time work is valued more highly than internships. But exceptions may be made for younger applicants with zero to one year of full-time work experience. For these students, summer internships can be helpful, and reflect a student’s accomplishments and dedication to a certain career path.  It’s also important to note that graduate school is universally not regarded as a substitute for professional work experience.

For more guidance or information regarding MBA admissions, contact Collegiate Gateway. As always, we’re happy to help.

More B-Schools Accept the GRE

An increasing number of MBA programs are allowing applicants to submit scores from the GRE (Graduate Record Examination), rather than the GMAT. Today, over 800 MBA programs around the world permit applicants accept the test, including Harvard, Wharton, and Stern.

This trend comes in the wake of changes in the GRE to align more with the rigor of the GMAT.  In August of 2011, the ETS (Educational Testing Service) revamped the GRE, expanding the test from three to four hours and incorporating new types of questions in the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections. In the verbal reasoning section, antonyms and analogies were entirely removed, and text completion and sentence equivalent questions were included. In addition, more reading comprehension questions were added, with multiple-choice questions in which several answers are correct. The quantitative reasoning section was also changed to place greater emphasis on data interpretation and real-life scenarios.

According to the ETS website, institutions benefit from accepting the GRE in addition to the GMAT because it provides an “even bigger, more diversified pool of highly qualified applicants.” Furthermore, GRE test takers come from a variety of backgrounds in terms of nationality, ethnicity, gender, age, and undergraduate major. In a 2012 interview with US News, Nikhil Varaiya, director of graduate programs at San Diego State University, states that  “[Universities] are seeking MBAs who have science and engineering backgrounds, disciplines in which students have traditionally taken the GRE for admission to graduate programs.”

Some test takers find the GRE more practical because it is offered at more locations than any other graduate admissions test and is more affordable, according to ETS. The GRE is also generally considered to be an easier test. Business Because, an online community for those interested in business school, recommends taking the GRE instead of the GMAT, as it places less emphasis on grammar and logical arguments and the math is easier. In addition, it does not have the newly added GMAT section of Integrated Reasoning, which combines all the difficult parts of the Verbal section with quantitative analysis and data interpretation. There is also the added bonus of having more options for graduate school in case an applicant should decide to apply or attend a non-MBA graduate program, either in addition or in place of business school.

However, the drawback for some test takers is that the GRE places a heavy emphasis on vocabulary and requires two essays instead of one.

Regardless of which test applicants take, it is important to remember that the GRE or GMAT is just one data point in the portfolio of an applicant. When looking for the next group of MBAs, applicants are considered based on a wide variety of criteria, including their leadership and work experience.

For more information on MBA admissions, contact Collegiate Gateway. As always, we’re happy to help.