Class Profiles for Top B-Schools- Part 1

B-schools applications are just at the turn of the corner! Many of you applicants are making decisions about the b-schools where you will apply. For your convenience, we have compiled the stats of the latest incoming classes for the top B-schools. Viewing them all together will give you a fair chance to compare and decide.

We present them to you in a two part series

mba data1

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Cornell Essay Analysis for 2014-15

Starting this year, Cornell has given you the option of prefilling your education and employment history and with your LinkedIn profile.  The other option of-course is uploading a neatly formatted resume.  A change in the traditional way of doing things, it does reaffirm our belief that in the following years, schools are going to increasingly take to social media and new technology for the purpose of applications.

Following are the essays for 2014-15, with our frameworks:

Essay 1: You are the author for the book of Your Life Story. In 2000 characters (including formatting characters) or less, please write the table of contents for the book in the space provided or upload it as an attachment. Note: approach this essay with your unique style. We value creativity and authenticity.

This has been a Cornell favorite for many years, and we must admit we quite love it for the varied responses this essay throws up. Applicants belonging to the same industry may have similar work experiences (think “X” number of banker candidates conducting due diligence for M&A deals or “Y” number of software engineer candidates developing software solutions for the retail industry), but the stories of their lives would still be different. There could be early life influences through a role model, adolescence problems that taught you a life-long lesson or adult choices of selecting one career path over the other, traveling 20 kms every weekend to volunteer at a rehabilitation center, and so on. All of these are likely to leave some mark on a candidate in shaping her/his personality. This is the kind of stuff one would write in her/his book and this is what Cornell wants to know. The b-school is known for its superbly tight knit community and for the school, this essay is a great way to know about an applicant- the various aspects that have shaped her/his personality and how she/he will be a good fit with the rest of the Cornell community.

How do you begin writing this essay? Making an extensive list of all the defining influences, events, turning points, decisions in your life will help you collate all the information that matters. Not all of it will be worth telling the adcom, so get your filters started. Which of this stuff has means a lot to you? Which instances have motivated you to achieve something challenging or what are the milestones in your life? What are your most significant personality attributes and how have they influenced you? The purpose here is to not just rattle off a list of everything big and small in your life but say something that will make the admissions committee interested enough in you to put you in that MBA class.

2000 characters is roughly 300 words, so keep the editing tight.

Spending a day at the bookstore will be a good investment in getting your creative juices flowing for the formatting of your table of content.

Essay 2: What is the job that you would like to have immediately upon graduating with your MBA? (2000 character limit, including formatting characters).

We are still old fashioned and love to see the career goals essay feature in the application. This one asks for your short term career goals. What would you like to do immediately after Cornell MBA? Now, what does “immediately” mean? Say 0-3 years, depending upon how far your career vision for the short term takes you.

But this career vision can not stand in isolation. It has to balance upon the skills and knowledge you have built thus far. Therefore it will be relevant to briefly discuss your career upto this stage. Show the adcom that you have navigated through your career path and given it direction.  That you were the sailor who decided which way to go whenever you had to make the choice. And now, you next choice is the post MBA job, which makes logical sense for you considering this past journey.

The next important element in this essay would be, how has the Cornell MBA equipped you to get that first post MBA job. This is a short essay, roughly about 300 words, so every word counts! Talk about specific elements of the Cornell MBA that are likely to help you with the job; any platitudes like “world class faculty”, “diverse student body” will only waste precious space. Moreover the question is a little deviation from the typical career goals question that asks “Why Cornell?” Rather this question asks how Cornell has made you job ready. So focus upon features of the program that have made you job ready- these could be related to leadership enhancement, academics, experiential learning, career support activities of specific clubs or anything else.

Additional essays

1. List community activities (clubs, church, civic, etc.) and professional associations you contributed to since graduation from college.  (2000 character limit, including formatting characters).

2. List your extracurricular activities while in college in order of importance to you. The list may also include part-time and summer employment held while in college.(2000 character limit, including formatting characters).

3. Please describe any hobbies or activities that hold special significance for you (2000 character limit, including formatting characters).

Optional Essay:
Complete this essay if you would like to add additional details regarding your candidacy. For instance, if you believe one or more aspects of your application (e.g., undergraduate record or test scores) do not accurately reflect your potential for success at the Johnson School. (2000 character limit, including formatting characters).

 

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Volunteer to make your MBA Application standout

A key element of your MBA application is your ability to showcase a 360 degree vision of your personality. The western world greatly values the holistic development of a person, and a hence volunteering experience is a key differential to your profile. Such fellowships are ideal for  applicants who face the challenge of an over-represented profile or those who have not got any leadership opportunities at work. For them, these programs can offer a chance for both.

Although, there is one word of caution: these programs require considerable commitment, some of them are full time involvements. These are not fit for applicants who want only a cosmetic uplift in their profiles. Moreover, since this is serious stuff we would urge only those who are genuinely interested to go join these programs. You will also have to take a call whether taking a 3 month to 2 year break is feasible in your scenario.

In this blog, we will look at the various volunteering opportunities that can boost the profiles of Indian MBA aspirants.

1. Swaniti Foundation

Swaniti’s vision is to build a vibrant, inclusive and better India, by delivering development solutions by working with elected officials on issues of health, education, gender and livelihood. They target particularly progressive MPs and work with them on topics that are very important for the country.

This is what the founder Rwitiwika Bhattacharya says in a video about the initiative’s alliance with MPs and MLAs: “Democracy and development are tied together, to that end we believe that democracy cannot thrive unless there is some amount of development happening in the country. In order to fulfill that we work with MPs on constituency level or state level development work”..

The fellowship offers an opportunity to work directly with MPs and MLAs on various projects such as Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), National Skills Development Mission (NSDM), and National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA).

 

How can you get involved?

Swaniti Fellow – The fellows work directly with Member(s) of Parliament and Legislators on Swaniti Engagements. They do research work or implement the actions taken by the Swaniti Team under the supervision of the Engagement Manager. This is a full time opportunity with Swaniti with a minimum one-year commitment.

Eligibility- Prospective applicants need at least an undergraduate degree, with excellent academic record to be eligible for this program. Work experience bwteen 1 and 3 years is preferred.

Web Developer – As a member of the Swaniti Technology team, the applicant provides designs, web development and IT support across the principal work areas of the Swaniti Initiative.

Software Developer – As a member of the Swaniti Technology team, the applicant requires extensive programming knowledge. The software professional will be solely responsible for implementing designs suggested by the Jigyasa Program lead and develop an online open data platform.

Apply only if you are passionate about: making a change in India’s governance process.

 

2. Teach for India

Teach for India is part of a global initiative Teach For All, which aims to deliver quality education to every child. TFI’s mission is to create leaders who will work towards elimination of educational inequality in India. The fellowship was founded in 2008 by Shaheen Mistri, ex-CEO of Akanksha, in partnership with Wendy Kopp, CEO and Founder of Teach For America. In less than six years the campaign has spread over six cities with over 910 fellows and 660 alumni working towards eliminating educational inequity.

How can you get involved?

TFI has a fellowship program for high performance professionals and grads. The fellows are chosen after a rigorous selection process, involving multiple rounds of interviews. During the 2 year tenure, these fellows work as full-time teachers in under-resourced and low-income schools. The fellowship is a unique challenge not only because it helps the fellows demonstrate their leadership skills but also transform the lives of the children in their class. There are four application rounds starting late August and ending early February.

If you are not the types to take a two year sabbatical from work, you can still get involved by becoming a TFI ambassador and spread the good word among colleagues and in your other communities.

Apply only if you are passionate about: teaching kids

 

3. Jagriti yatra

Jagriti Yatra is a unique experience encompassing the length and breadth of the country. The vision of Jagriti is ‘building India through enterprise’. The yatra aims to arouse the sleeping giant i.e. the Indian middle class, by stimulating middle class Indian youth, to steer the growth of the nation by enterprise, thus unleashing a movement of Enterprise-led-development. Jagriti Yatra aims to nurture 1 Lakh entrepreneurs by 2022 and create 10 Lakh jobs in this process.

How can you get involved?

As a Yatri: Over the 8000 km journey, 15-day long train journey, Yatris can meet role models, leaders, change drivers who have positively impacted the lived of thousands in this country. The Yatra is also a good opportunity to network, since over 450 like-minded youth will participate in the journey, and at the end of the journey, you will have bonded with people who were complete strangers a few weeks ago. Together you can develop ideas which will help you contribute to nation building by enterprise.

Selectors Panel – You will need to assess candidate applications and choose the right candidates for the yatra. You will need to identify potential social/business entrepreneurs through applications submitted by candidates. This activity requires a commitment of 3 hours per week.

Awareness Ambassador – This is exclusively for alumni of the yatra. If you would like to share your experiences and help the yatra expand, you can contribute as an Awareness Ambassador. You will need to help us spread awareness and create interest in the Yatra amongst the public. Jagriti Yatra has an active Campus ambassadors program (CAP) all across India. This activity requires a commitment of 2 hours per week.

Engine Room Club (ERC) – Do you have thing for operations and people management? The ERC is perfect for you. The ERC is basically the Operations Management group of the organization, ensuring that the train reaches the next stop on time, that everyone onboard has been served fresh, delightful meals and that the experience is smooth and conducive to learning. Join the Engine Room Club to help with the operations, programming and media on the biggest train event of its kind in the world!

Apply only if you are passionate about: Entrepreneurship and learning from local enterprises.

 

4. Make A Difference (MAD)

Make a Difference is an organization that empowers orphans or destitute children to discover their true potential and give them a mission in life. The organization seeks to empower the youth of a underdeveloped and under-privileged community by implementing development models which will provide a better life for the vulnerable children of the very same community.

As a volunteer you will implement various developmental projects, which will provide children with vocational skills and guarantee employment, leading to social and economic development of the entire community. Currently, MAD operates in over 23 Indian cities with over 2100 volunteers teaching close to 5,200 children.

How can you get involved?

Connect Volunteer – As a Connect Volunteer, you are a role model for a class of 10 children. You will teach the children English using the Cambridge curriculum.

Discover Volunteer- As a Discover Volunteer, you help children realize their aptitude and interests and help guide them with their choices in life.

Engage Volunteer – As an Engage Volunteer, you gather financial support for other volunteers by conducting workshops, sales drive etc by reaching out to the local community.

Dream Tee Volunteer – As a Dream Tee Volunteer, you form teams and reach out of to the young community by reaching out to top colleges and corporates. Each tee-shirt sold can take care of the cost of one child’s education for a month under MAD’s Connect Project.  Dream-Tees are high quality Tees priced at relatively low cost, with limited edition designs changed once every 4-6 months, and is a way of promoting conscious consumerism!

Apply only if you are passionate about: teaching kids

 

5. Streisand Foundation

The Streisand Foundation, follows a unique methodology to empower street children in India, by providing their older siblings (usually between 18-26 years of age) education and training in various trades for a period of three months. Upon completion these students are placed in well-known companies with a minimum wage of Rs.5000/- per month, enabling them to become economically self-supportive and help community development. The three months of intensive training gives the youth self-confidence and also boosts his morale. The benefits of educating and empowering a youth transcends when he transforms into a role model for his community and the initiative gives hope to all neighboring children for a better life ahead.

How can you get involved?

Volunteers are expected to provide the underprivileged youth their basic needs such as pre-schooling, education in health and hygiene, prevention from ailments, as well as motivating and educating their mothers not to discontinue the youth to attend classes. Hands-on training is provided by volunteer teachers with a proven history of success in their respective fields, with focus in the areas of retail/sales, guest care (hospitality and office), service driving, plus art and designing.

Apply only if you are passionate about: making a change in the lives of the underpriveleged

 

6. Yuwa

 Yuwa is an awarding winning NGO, which won both the Nike Gamechangers Award in 2011 and NDTV Spirit of Sports Award winner for ‘Best Education through Sport’ in 2012. Today the organization has built a small rural hub for sports and education of girls in Jharkhand. Yuwa uses football to empower these girls and serves as a powerful means to bring girls out of isolation and into a positive team environment. Playing football provides a girl the means to express herself, and develop her personality, providing the girl the opportunity to realize her self-worth and her power to break the cycle of poverty.

How can you get involved?

Yuwa currently offers internships to Indian graduates, to assist and implement grassroots initiatives for young girls in rural India. These internships will be in the fields of education, health, sports for development, and fundraising. The interns need to be creative and innovative and possess the ability to “think outside the box”. The interns must be honest, enthusiastic, compassionate, and patient, since they are role models for the young girls

Apply only if you are passionate about: Sports

 

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Funding Your MBA – What are the Options?

An MBA from a top ranked b-school is not only a dream for thousands of working professionals, but also an investment for a lifetime. However, a world class MBA comes with its own share of caveats, the most important being cost. To give you an idea, a Chicago Booth MBA will cost you a whopping $116,969 in tuition fees and another $34000 in living costs. This adds up to more than $150,000. Needless to say you need to start planning early for your MBA.  Here are some funding options that you should be aware of :

SCHOOL SCHOLARSHIPS/FINANCIAL AID

In order to get the best students in the class, every B-school provides merit and need based scholarships to deserving students, who have demonstrated exceptional academic and professional performance. Need based scholarships are provided to students who do not possess the financial resources to pay for extremely high tuition costs. In most cases you do not need to apply separately for these scholarships. The criteria for earning these are similar to those for the application- you are evaluated for academic and professional excellence and for your involvement outside your work. As we mentioned in our previous blog, the chances of getting a school scholarships are significantly higher in Round 1 & 2 than in the later rounds, since most of the funds get exhausted in these rounds. Some schools such as MIT Sloan, Columbia Business School, Fuqua School of Business, Emory Goizueta and UC Irvine also let students work as a Teaching Assistant or Graduate Assistant in the second year or after the core courses. This enables students to significantly offset costs.

PRIVATE SCHOLARSHIPS

There are several private scholarships, such as Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship, Aga Khan Foundation, Mariwala Trust, and The Sir Ratan Tata Scholarships, which offer scholarships to deserving students. Also there are several interest free loan endowments/scholarship such as J.N. Tata Endowment and the K.C. Mahindra Education Trust.

LOANS

A bank loan is an often used method to fund your MBA. There are a number of loan options available for residents of the host country, but is fairly restrictive for non-residents.

If you are an American citizen, you are very fortunate, since you can make use of Federal Stafford Loans and Direct Plus Loans, which are readily available to students. These loans offer interest rates significantly lower than those offered by banks. If you are not an American citizen, you are less lucky and although you are eligible to get a loan from a US bank, this loan has to be co-signed by a credit worthy permanent US resident. Alternatively, you can take a loan in your home country, with the chance of getting your loan approved in India being significantly higher.

However, the interest rate for loans offered by Indian banks is significantly higher than those offered by banks in the US. Public-sector banks offer lower rates as compared to private banks. However the exact interest rate is determined on a case-to-case basis by the bank. Most public sector banks offer loans with an upper limit of INR 20 lakhs, with the exception of SBI, which offers loans up to INR 30 lakhs. For loans up to INR 4 lakhs only your parent/guardian is needed as co-borrower. For loans more than INR 4 lakhs to 7.5 lakhs, the Parent/ Guardian is listed as co-borrower and suitable collateral is placed with the bank. For loans more than INR 7.5 lakhs, Parent/ Guardian is listed as co-borrower and suitable collateral security is held by the bank.

The only disadvantage of applying for a loan in a public sector bank is that the process can be slow and cumbersome, often lasting several months and requiring a lot of documentation . This is where, private lenders (NBFC) such a CREDILA and AVANSE come in, these companies are agile in processing loans and also have a great deal of flexibility on collaterals. Also these companies do not have a limit for the maximum approved loan, which can be a game changer for the industry. However these companies offer loans at a significantly higher rate than public sector banks.

After the sub-prime lending rate crisis, most loans offered to international students were discontinued, and most of the top b-schools, like Wharton, Booth, and UCLA have since tied-up with credit unions to fill these gaps. These loans are provided to deserving international students, with the school as the co-signer.

In Canada, Singapore and Australia there are very little options for lending for a non-resident. It is advisable to apply for a loan in the home country than in the host nation. However, some of the top Canadian schools like Rotman and Schulich have tied up with Royal Bank of Canada to fund up to $45000 in tuition. As with US b-schools, these Canadian schools are the co-signers for the student loans.

COMMUNITY FUNDING

An alternative to the traditional loans are companies like Prodigy (an INSEAD alumni start-up). Prodigy works on the peer to peer lending model and provides custom loans to high ranked schools like INSEAD, London Business School and Columbia Business School.

PERSONAL FUNDS

As we mentioned at the beginning, planning plays a pivotal role in helping you finance your MBA. You will need to draw up a master plan to manage your expenses about two years before you decide to apply to the program. You can also reach out to your family and friends for support to finance your degree.

DO remember that the MBA is a long term investment, which will pay itself out several times during   your career, and hopefully finances should not be the only reason prohibiting you from pursuing this life changing experience.

 

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Kellogg Essay Analysis 2014-15

 

1. Resilience. Perseverance. Grit. Call it what you will … challenges can build character. Describe a challenging experience you’ve had. How were you tested? What did you learn? (450 words)

Kellogg has always asked about challenging situations or obstacles in their essay lineup. This year, there is a little bit of a twist to it.

“Challenges can build character”!

We completely agree. Challenges bring us face-to-face with adverse situations, those that we are not used to handling. Coping with such situations requires that we step out of our comfort zones and take actions to overcome them. Along the way, we display persistence, our unbending spirit and the ability to bounce back.  Needless to say, your example should embody these traits.

What is the challenging experience that you have had? Go on to describe the event, giving details that make the picture complete- Who were the other people involved? What was your role in the situation vis-à-vis theirs? What were the challenges that you faced? Did they arise from people or processes or both? Most important, how did you overcome them- what steps did you take to navigate your way through the situation?

To answer the cue “how were you tested”,  some reflection is required on why you thought these were challenges in the first place. People view situations differently and your view of this situation will give the reader some idea about what you consider as difficult or easy. Where possible, mention what steps did you decide to take to overcome the situation and why?  This detail is crucial because you are not just describing a one-off situation that required a quick fix;  but you are telling about a time that led to your personal characteristics getting built/enhanced, which would have involved some thoughts, analyses and actions.

A reader who has got involved in your story would wait to know the outcome of your efforts, so do make a mention of it.

End the essay with your takeaways from this experience. What did you learn from this example and if applicable, how did you use that learning in future.

Personal or professional situation- the adcom has not given any specific directions as they have in the next question, so feel free to select a strong example from either sphere that hits the right chords.

 

2. Leadership requires an ability to collaborate with and motivate others. Describe a professional experience that required you to influence people.  What did this experience teach you about working with others, and how will it make you a better leader? (450 words)

Leadership is an all-pervasive component of the MBA education and influencing or motivating others to achieve a common goal is a quality of an able leader. The adcom has specifically asked for a professional experience where you influenced a person or a team to follow your ideas.

As in the situation of the previous question, your character is strengthened when you face resistance. Chances are that people did not buy into your idea at the first instance and that you had to reason with them, use persuasion, mild authority (in a nice way) or spot early adapters who would become your champions. Typically influencing others requires you to do some groundwork yourself –  you may  need to build a relationship with people to gain their trust, be receptive to their thoughts and ideas, be willing to compromise  and include their perspectives in your plan.  Whatever be your style, make the reader visualize your commitment to your vision, the multiple steps that you took to win people over and the individual’s/team’s gradual conversion to “aye”sayers.

You are the protagonist of this show, so take adequate credit for your work in influencing the team- don’t downplay your role in the situation because that will not show you as a strong leader. On the reverse, over praising your actions can make you sound vain.

The situation would require you to use varying tactics with different people. What did you learn about other people’s behavior or about your own style of dealing with them? Did you realize that you were great at reading people and altering your communication strategy accordingly? Or did you realize that you needed to be more accepting of other peoples thoughts?  Whatever your key learnings, make an honest judgment of yourself.  Lastly, how will you use these lessons in the future to become a more effective leader? If there is some component of the Kellogg program that you think will benefit you, then mention it here.

Additional questions:

Re-applicants: Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (250 word limit)

 

 The Video Essay:

Kellogg had introduced a video essay last year as a way to interact with every applicant.  The video makes your application all the more personable by giving a face to your name- this is pretty much the Kellogg way, a b-school that is known for its collegial environment and for the high value it places on relationships among students and faculty.

The change from last year is that Kellogg has removed one written essay and made that a video essay. So now you have two video questions to answer. We are reprinting their guidelines about the video essay over here:

     

    • * After submitting a completed application, each applicant will be asked to complete two video essay questions. One will be about the candidate’s interest in Kellogg and the other will be a “getting to know you” type of question.

 

    • *There are 10 practice questions which candidates can complete as many times as they like to get comfortable with the format and technology. The practice questions and experience will simulate the actual video essay experience, so this is meant to be a useful tool and help applicants feel prepared.

 

    • *There is not an opportunity to re-do the answer to the official video essay questions. We encourage applicants to practice so they are comfortable with the format once it is time to complete the official questions.

 

  •  *Candidates will have 20 seconds to think about their question and up to 1 minute to give their response.
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Different MBA Formats – Which one fits me?

When you make an investment you ought to make sure that you put your money in the correct place be it equity, bonds, deposits or gold. Likewise, a MBA is probably one of the biggest investments that you will make in your life. So it is important that you choose the MBA degree which suits you the most. In this blog we will do a deep dive into the various types of MBA degrees offered by universities around the globe.

1.      Full Time – The Full time MBA program is the most sought after MBA program at any university. The Full time program can be split into:-

a)      Two year MBA – The two year MBA program still remains the most popular MBA program of the world. The two-year course is offered by most American b-schools and is targeted at candidates who typically have about 4-6 years of work experience and are looking for a change in their career path. This format is suited for those who do not have a bachelor’s degree in business, hence in the first year, emphasis is laid on the fundamental courses in business, such as operations, finance, strategy and marketing. The second year offers a number of electives, enabling students to practice and develop expertise in their core areas. Some b-schools offer specializations/ concentrations, which allow students to deepen their knowledge in 1-2 areas such as marketing, strategy finance, supply chain etc. Areas-of-emphasis help MBA students to build indepth expertise in a particular field such as healthcare, real estate, entrepreneurship, energy etc. A few other programs like Stanford, Harvard, Ross and Yale offer no specializations but have a broad base of electives for applicants to select from.

A key component of the two-year MBA is the mandatory internship between the first and the second year.  The summer internship offers students the opportunity to explore a new industry or job function, and in most cases a successful internship transforms into a full time job offer with the same firm. The two year program also students to work in a team and offers excellent opportunity to bond with  classmates working with them upon projects and presentations. The co-curricular activities, social events, international treks and the massive networking opportunities make the two year program a sure winner.

However, there are certain detriments associated with the two year program. The most important is cost, amounting to more than $250000, if you calculate the entire opportunity cost i.e. lost income on your job, interest on student loans, tuition fees and living expenses.

b)      One Year MBA

The one year MBA program is offered by more of European B-schools and is ideally suited for more experienced candidates who are not looking for a major career change. The one year program has higher academic rigor than the two year course, since it is basically the two year course compressed into one year.

Some of the known one year MBAs are offered by Kellogg, Cornell, Emory and USC Marshall in the US. Most candidates in these programs have an average experience of more than five years and go to b-school to learn the soft skills and leadership skills needed to take up senior management roles. Core courses may be by-passed as in the case of Kellogg or they may be taught over the summer in a short three months, after which students join the second year students and are free to take any electives or majors. Candidates with previous business degrees or certifications like CPA, CFA etc. are preferred. These programs are suitable for candidates who are not eyeing a radical change in their post MBA roles and do not need an internship to get their intended positions.

In Europe, INSEAD, IMD, IE Business School, Oxford’s Said and Cambridge’s Judge School of Business are known to offer one year MBAs. In India, ISB and the full time executive courses by the IIMs fall under this category.  A difference in these programs is that they do offer internships or projects which are necessary to make a career transition.

The one year program leads to a massive savings on tuition fees and living expenses. Since the one year program graduates earn almost the same salary as their counterparts in the two year program, this translates to a better return on investment.

The downsides to the one year program are that it is not suited for those looking for a change in career. The one year program is too compact to bond with classmates, do an internship at a consultancy/investment bank or look for a job.

2.   Part Time- A part time MBA is ideally suited for candidates who are already successful professionals in their respective functions and are looking to boost their careers, while staying at the same organization. These candidates cannot leave their full time jobs to pursue a full time degree. A part-time MBA can be completed in more than three years, and normally needs employer validation, since you will be attending classes either in the evenings or on the weekends as well as spending about 15 hours each week dedicated to preparation and studying. Almost all top US programs offer a part-time MBA; it is advisable to choose a school, which is in the same city where you live.

3.    Executive MBA – An executive MBA is targeted at candidates who are already senior or middle level managers in their respective organizations and are looking for an academic program to fast track their careers to get better pay and job titles. The EMBA program requires a minimum of 5-7 years of work experience and the average age of applicants is normally in the early to late thirties. As with the part-time program, candidates can continue their full time jobs, although they need to devote about 10 hours a week on coursework and an additional 15-20 hours a week for studying/ reports etc. Classes are held every few weeks during the weekend. EMBA’s are usually more expensive than traditional MBA’s and hence most candidates pursuing an EMBA get partial or full aid from their employer. The EMBA also offers excellent networking opportunities as your classmates will come from a variety of industries, functions and nationalities with very rich managerial experience in their respective fields. You need to select a b-school that suits your function or industry in order to get the most out of the EMBA. Also remember that you will have a hard time juggling between work, coursework and family, hence you need to evaluate your options and decide the right time to complete the program.

4.    Global MBA Programs – Each day the world is becoming a smaller place to live in and in this age of multi nationals, companies are looking for opportunities to expand their markets across continents. Needless to say they are looking for individuals who can seamlessly work in a number of different countries. This has consecutively led to an increase in the number of Global MBA programs, notably the Ross Global MBA, the Essec Global MBA and the Global Executive MBA offered by Darden. The most important differential for a GMBA is diversity, from student bodies to faculty, it encompasses multiple nationalities. These programs lay special emphasis on International Business and provide them a flavor of different economies, specially the BRICS economies, because companies have realized that what works in North America may not work in exactly the same way in India. These programs are truly global in nature, since they are offered in partnership with other universities around the globe or different campuses of the same university. As a result there are several exchange programs, which enable students to study in three continents over two years, providing a truly global experience. These exchange programs help them to get a taste of the socio-political difference between different countries and get them tuned to virtually work in any part of the globe.

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Ready for an MBA!!! Next what?

So your cousin, who graduated from Anna University and worked for an IT major for 5 years is heading abroad for his MBA and you think, why don’t I give it a shot as well? Well, if you are confused, don’t know how to go about it, what to study, how to prepare, which university to select etc. this blog should answer most of your questions.

So let’s start with the basics. Almost every B-school requires a GMAT (Graduate management Aptitude Test) score. The highly competitive GMAT tests not only your verbal, analytical and quantitative skills, but also your ability to handle pressure. Indians and Chinese candidates are able to score heavily especially in the quants section. The downside to this is that even though a 700 score is considered as good for a Caucasian or American, it is considered par for Indians.

An alternative to the GMAT is the GRE, which is slowly gaining acceptance amongst a number of b schools, primarily to diversify their application pool. The GRE is perceived as an easier exam, especially for non-native English speakers. The GRE tests English vocabulary, which is better suited to non-native speakers, compared to the GMAT, which tests English Grammar, and is difficult to master in a short period of time. GRE math is also considerably simpler than GMAT math.  However, think of GMAT as the golden standard and aim your eyes on scoring that as a preference.

Most B-schools also need proof of your English Proficiency, if you are not a native speaker. There are several tests such as TOEFL, IELTS and PTE. The TOEFL is more popular with US B-schools, while the IELTS is more popular with British and Australian ones. The TOEFL is not mandatory for many US schools, if the medium of instruction in your undergrad was English.  Yet it is advisable to take it so that you don’t miss out applying to some b-schools which demand an English proficiency test.

The selection process and criteria of an Indian B-school compared to an international one is completely different. For a start, the latter requires a minimum of 2-3 years of full time work experience. The average hovers around 4-5 years in US b-schools, whereas European counterparts are known to accept candidates with more work experience, around 5-7 years. The schools do not focus on what you have achieved technically at your work place, but on the business and management sides of things. They want to know for instance how well you perform in a team environment or the leadership you have demonstrated at work.

Second,  b-schools look for a candidate with consistent academic performance. This does not mean that you will need >90% for each exam that you have taken, but your performance should be consistent. If you have a low GPA, there is nothing really you can do about it, but you should try to mitigate that with a high GMAT score and impressive work experience.

Third, you need to showcase your personality 360 degrees.  Adcoms lay special emphasis on your extra-curriculars, be it drama, arts, sports or dance. However, they are seeking passionate, not occasional participation in these activities. They want a multi-faceted personality in the class and not a boring nerd. Your application should also focus on your organizational abilities and your involvement in the various clubs in college. If you have a patent or a paper-publication, this can be a differential in your application.

Fourth, if you volunteer at an NGO, Red Cross or even for the CSR at your office, make sure you include that information in your application. Adcoms like to see consistent involvement in volunteering activities and community development.

The next important question in your application process will be which b-schools? It is critical to apply to schools that suit your profile. There are several factors such as, class size, alumni network, teaching method, school’s relationship with companies on your wish list, which you need to consider. Your fit with the b-school’s culture and with the rest of its student body is most important. As an international candidate it may not be possible for you to visit b-schools, but learn about them by attending info-sessions, online chat events; by reading up admissions & student blogs; viewing You Tube videos and by talking to students and alumni.

Most B schools have three rounds of applications. For some B-schools, R1 can be as early as September, so you need to plan your GMAT dates accordingly. There are some for e.g. IE Spain, which has rolling admissions. At most b-schools scholarship money is available in R1 and R2, so its beneficial to apply in these two rounds.

So after you have your list of B-schools ready, you need to start the application process. Most B-schools ask for at least 2-3 essays to gauge your work experience and personality. The application essays have evolved over the years, with some B-schools asking for video essays. The video essays help the Adcom understand your personality even before you the actual face to face interview. You will also need to prepare your resume in a standard one page format. Last, but not the least, you will need at least two professional recommendations from a supervisor / client with whom you have worked directly.

Interviews are scheduled after your complete application has been received by the admissions committee(Adcom) and if they decide to invite you for it. The interview is a great opportunity for you to know more about the school and also for the Adcom to understand your overall personality. The key to doing well here is to prepare well.

You should hear from the adcoms with good news in about 3-4 weeks. So finally the extremely taxing admissions process, from the GMAT preparation to the interview has borne fruit. Next, you will need to arrange your finances and get the necessary paper work for your I20. Most of you will apply for the F1 visa (the student’s visa) and hop on a flight to your b-school destination in the late summer/ autumn.

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Eyes on the IIMs Executive Programs? Here’s the deal

The IIMs open their applications for the executive MBA programs around April-June of every year. These programs are positioned for medium level managers who have substantial work experience, and are seeking accelerated career growth or a change in their job functions, building upon the skill set they have already acquired.

As the deadlines to these programs are fast approaching, in this blog, we will cover the class profiles and employment stats to help you decide between the programs, as well as the admissions requirements to get you going.

IIM Bangalore EPGP (Executive Post-Graduate Program) admissions window for 2014 opens between June 10 and August 29, 2014. Applications are to be submitted between this time period.

The eligibility criteria for EPGP is graduation with minimum 50% marks or equivalent CGPA and full-time work experience between 5 and 15 years.  Applicants should have a minimum of 5 years of work experience by 31st March, 2015.

The applicants have to submit an online form, giving details of their academic and professional backgrounds, their GMAT scores, a statement of purpose and a reference letter.  More on the Statement of purpose in another blog.

Here’s a snapshot of the IIMB EPGP class- the class intake is between 60-75, average age is about 30 years, average work experience is 9.5 years and the median GMAT is 710, with the GMAT scores ranging from 650-740. About one third of the class has 9-10 years of work experience, while another third has 7-8 years of professional experience.

Roughly 55% of the incoming class (2013) has an IT products or services background, with 40% being employed in project or program management function. Talking about the post MBA recruitments, in 2013, about 50% of the class went back to the IT industry. However many students changed their functions to general management (33% students), business development (20% students) and client services & delivery (20% students). Average salary was about INR 22.5 lakhs.

The IIMA PGPX (Post Graduate Program in Management for Executives) admissions windows are open and the last date for submission is August 11, 2014. Interestingly, they incentivize applicants to submit early – if you apply on or before 6pm on 28th July you pay a rebated application fee of INR 3500, whereas you pay the full fee of INR 5,000 if you apply between 28th July (6pm) and 11th August.

Pressing the submit button is not a gut wrenching task, because you have to submit only a part of your application by this date. This includes the academic qualifications and professional history, GMAT score and other factual details. On clearing this stage, applicants are invited to submit the rest of the application, which requires 2 essays, 3 references (names only) and an interview.

In terms of eligibility, candidates must have completed 15 years of education and must be atleast 27 years of age on March 31st 2015.

The PGPX class intake is about 85 students. The class average age is 33.5 years, average work experience is 9.5 years and the average GMAT is 705. 83% students have had international experience. 84% of the class comprises of engineers, while 23% are from the IITs/ NIT. With all those IITians, needless to say, it’s a tough admission to crack. The class has a more diverse mix as compared to IIMB in terms of the industry representation, with only about 32% coming from IT services.

The outgoing class is also a diverse mix in terms of their industry choices for job placements– in 2013, 21% students got into IT, another 21% into consulting, 14% into telecom and 12% into manufacturing. 44% of the class took up roles in General management, as compared to 33% of the IIM Bangalore EPGP candidates who went into general management. This could have a direct connection to the fact that IIMA has a general management focus, with case studies being the primary mode of teaching

IIM Calcutta’s PGPEX (Post Graduate Program for Executive Management) has the same eligibility criteria as IIMB – a bachelor’s degree, minimum 5 years of post (academic) qualification professional experience and a valid GMAT score. Applicants are required to submit a statement of purpose and recommendations from two refrees holding senior managerial position.

The application will become available from 27th June, 2014 and the admissions window is open between July 1st to 31st August, 2014.

The PGPEX class has an intake of about 50 students. Average GMAT is about 705, average work experience is about 8 years, with the largest chunk of class falling within the range of 7 to 10 years in work experience.

As per the 2012-13 recruitment report, 35% of the 40 students seeking jobs went into IT/ telecom sectors, 14% into consulting, 13% into general management, and 11% into marketing. The average salary offered was INR 19 lakhs.

Executive MBA (IPMX), at the Indian Institute of Management Lucknow-NOIDA Campus requires a minimum of 6 years of work experience (on 31st March, 2015), along with the other eligibility criteria of a valid GMAT score and academic/professional qualifications. Two letters of recommendations are required, of which at least one letter should be from a senior person at work.

The 2014 batch has 69 students with an average 9.4 years experience. Average age is 33 years, although 71% of the class is between 30-35 years. 83% of the students are engineers. 70% of the class comes from an IT services and products background, and 50% students have worked in program/project management.

IIM Indore has the same eligibility criteria as the other IIMs, with a minimum 5 year experience requirement. The Unlike the other IIMs, this one also accepts CAT scores.  In a wired world, the application still has to be sent by snail mail, and the deadline for the receipt of the forms is 23rd June, 2014. Having crossed this date, any applicant who still has eyes on this IIM, needs to wait a year.

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Tuck Essay Questions 2014-15

Application Deadlines:

Early Action Round : October 8,2014
November Round:  November 5,2014
January Round : January 6,2015
April Round : April 1,2015

Please respond fully but concisely to the following essay questions. There are no right or wrong answers. We encourage applicants to limit the length of their responses to 500 words for each essay. Please double-space your responses.

1. Why is an MBA a critical next step toward your short- and long-term career goals? Why is Tuck the best MBA fit for you and your goals and why are you the best fit for Tuck?

2. Tell us about your most meaningful leadership experience and what role you played. What did you learn about your own individual strengths and weaknesses through this experience?

3. (Optional) Please provide any additional insight or information that you have not addressed elsewhere that may be helpful in reviewing your application (e.g., unusual choice of evaluators, weaknesses in academic performance, unexplained job gaps or changes, etc.). Complete this question only if you feel your candidacy is not fully represented by this application.

4. (To be completed by all reapplicants) How have you strengthened your candidacy since you last applied? Please reflect on how you have grown personally and professionally.

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ISB Essay Analysis 2014-15

The biggest change in ISB’s essay line-up this year is that they require substantial self-awareness and analysis. ISB clearly wants serious contenders in the game – people who have spent time pondering over their strengths and weaknesses, gaps and opportunities; and they are now raring to make a year-long investment in themselves.

Another change is that ISB has given candidates flexibility to select from professional or personal examples in essay 1 & 3. Last year they had asked for professional anecdotes in essay 1, but this time, you are left free to make that decision. As applicants, you should make a judicious selection between both personal and professional stories so that you are able to create maximum impact.

Q1. Innovation or doing things differently it is said is a key to future success. Could you substantiate or negate this idea based on your experience. Please provide examples from your own experience – either examples of your own innovation or examples of others whom you have worked with. (300 words max)

Do you have an ‘argument’ in you? Because that’s what ISB seeks. Make a case either for innovation as the key to future success or for innovation not being the most important factor in achieving success. Either way, you should give an example from your own life to support your belief.

‘Innovation’ & ‘challenging the status quo’ are the hottest buzz words in the b-school circles. An MBA education grooms budding leaders to take on the mantle of businesses in the future. Conceiving and doing new and different things is imperative to achieve success in this role. This forms the premise of a ‘pro-argument’ answer.

Focus your example upon the time when you led change ( by doing things differently) or you initiated a new process either at work or in your personal life. ISB has given you leeway to talk of situations where you were not the protagonist, but an observer or a team member. In either situation, present the problem briefly, then go on to explain the actions you or the others took. Specify what was the innovation/ change and why did it work. Don’t just stop there, go ahead and give your analysis of the situation. Why do you think the innovative/change solution worked? As we mentioned, ISB wants a deep dive into your thought process, so give them some hard thinking and analyzing here.

Then link this example back to your initial argument and conclude.

One, at the most two examples will be sufficient to consume your 300 word limit.
If your argument is against the premise, then give your opinion on the other factors you believe to be precursors to success. Support your answer with apt examples in a similar way.

Q2. Applying to and enrolling in a Business School is an important career decision. Critically look at your career to date, the choices you have made, the key influences behind those choices, your goals for the future and how you expect to benefit from the ISB experience in achieving your goals. (300 words max)

Although this question is worded differently from the last few years’, yet its essence largely remains the same: What are your career goals and how can ISB help you to achieve them? A new element is the word “critically”. ISB wants you to get into deep introspection and offer some reflections on the choices that you have made so far. For example, what were your thoughts behind taking up your first job (as obvious, don’t say that it’s the only job you got) or for moving into sales after spending two years in a technical function. What was your vision for yourself? What direction were you giving to your career? What factors influenced your decisions? This part can easily consume your 300 words, so be careful to stress only upon the milestones and inflection points. Also, go beyond stating ‘common facts’ to giving deeper insights- a large part of the ISB class always knew it wanted to become engineer and had an undying love for computers/machines/ electronics- now, what extra can you add to this statement?

Once this ground is covered, define your career goals –both short term (3-5 years after MBA) and long term(5 years after MBA). Explain what skills and knowledge do you currently lack that are keeping you from achieving your career goals? How will an ISB MBA help you cover this gap? Specifically mention 3-4 features of the ISB program that are going to benefit you.

Q3. Any One of the following (200 words max):

A). This experience completely changed my way of thinking.

B). An instance when you went out of the ordinary to achieve something significant, but in hind sight feel you could have done better. 

C). Tell us about your role in a team that made a significant contribution to the organization  

D). Contribution to peer learning and engagement with the ISB student body are important aspects of the ISB experience. What contribution do you expect to make in this direction during the one year at ISB.

The first two questions are in line with ISB’s requirement of deep analysis and retrospection. We’ll handle each one separately:

A). This experience completely changed my way of thinking: There are many possibilities here. To give you examples, you can talk about a situation where you were initially skeptical and resistant, but due to certain factors, your outlook changed slowly and eventually you became a firm believer. Another situation could have exposed you to new thoughts or ideologies, which impacted your thinking. Or, you could have experienced a drastically unfavorable situation, which changed your mindset irreversibly.
Mention this experience briefly, explaining the circumstances that led to changes in your thought process. Elaborate on what were these changes were and how did they impact you. How have you changed as a person because of this experience? What have you become now? Is that good or bad?

B). I achieved something significant, but…..: This is a tricky one. You persisted and achieved something significant but your effort could have been more. What could the adcom possibly want to hear? That you have the ability to reflect upon your actions and you are willing to keep striving, keep learning, keep bettering. That you are always evolving.

Oftentimes, we toil really hard to achieve an outcome, but we become complacent towards the end and slacken up. Take the adcom through one such instance in your life. Describe the situation, emphasizing upon how you went out of the ordinary to achieve the result. What impact did you create? What were your feelings at that time? Proceed to the next part- what led you to realize that you could have performed better and how? A nice ending would be to describe another instance where you applied learnings from this dissonance and achieved the result to your maximum potential.

C). Your significant contribution to a team: Throughout your personal/professional life, you will be required to work as part of many teams. How do you conduct yourself in a team? How do you contribute to your teams?
Describe a situation where impacted your team significantly. Give some description of the team and define your role within it. What were you collectively set out to achieve? What were your responsibilities? How did you deal with others in the team? What role did you play in keeping the team motivated and working cohesively? Did you go beyond what was expected of you to make an impact? Finally, how did this experience enhance your team skills?

D). Contributing to ISB: This question is meant for those applicants who have some praiseworthy talents or skills or some unique experiences, which they can use to enhance the experience of their ISB classmates. Talk about your talent/skill and then go on to say how you will contribute at ISB. A reality check is necessary out here. Talk to current ISB students and recent alumni and figure out whether what you plan to contribute is required at all. If you want to start a Golf Club for instance, its going to be wise to know that the b-school already does not have a Golf Club.

Q4 (optional): Please provide additional information, if any, that will significantly affect the consideration of your application to the ISB. (200 words max)

Is there anything else that you would like to tell the adcom? Use this space to mention a unique fact about you which you have not covered elsewhere in the application. Do not use this essay to supplement similar stories- if you already have 1 achievement covered in essay 1, don’ try to force fit a second one in this essay. Lastly, don’t feel compelled to write an essay, just because it has been given to you. We are aware of many applicants who were admitted without writing this essay.

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