What are the business and social trends that schools are having to adapt to in order to produce the most relevant graduates?
Schools have had to adapt their focus to a more global level and an increased interest in entrepreneurship from their students. Most likely, applicants to the top schools will have to answer an admissions essays referencing global business. To attract and capture talented candidates, curriculums have been adjusted to include additional entrepreneurship and globalization courses.
What are the biggest challenges schools are facing?
European business schools have seen in increase in applicants from the U.S. and elsewhere due to their international emphasis. U.S.-based business schools have tried to increase their global presence by setting up offices abroad and increasing the work/study programs overseas.
What is driving the demand for entrepreneurial courses?
The demand for more entrepreneurial courses is mostly coming from the students. With an increase in globalization and accompanying opportunities, many MBA applicants and students hope to change the world in some way rather than acquiring this education to attain upper management positions in their current fields.
Are these entrepreneurial courses designed only for people who want to start their own business or do they have other applications?
Harvard Business School has a fairly famous course called the Founder's Dilemma, which is a thorough analysis of why ventures have failed and succeeded. A course like this can obviously help those that want to start their own business, but this will also help those considering joining new ventures, evaluating the viability of businesses for venture capital or financial services firms, and consulting for early stage endeavors.
Do schools have a preference for people who have started a particular type of business?
There is no preference in terms of the type of business. They will be looking for how you were able to grow your business, what decisions made you, and if you were able to construct an effective strategy. Anticipate being asked to share revenue numbers, profit margins, and what made you successful versus your competition.
How can an applicant analyze whether an MBA program is a good fit?
Applicants really need to do their research. MBA programs brand themselves differently. For example, Wharton has a reputation for global finance while Harvard Business School emphasizes leadership, and this should be evident as applicants begin the admissions process.
How have MBA highing trends and starting salaries been effected by the shifts in the economy
In general, the graduates from top MBA programs do not seem terribly affected. Most bonuses in finance are less, but their starting salaries are about the same. Some large consulting firms have actually increased their starting salaries. Overall, it is still not a bad time to be graduating from a top tier MBA program.
What types of skills are in demand. Are you starting to see the emergence and demand for new or non-traditional skills?
Coding experience not only is in high demand but also considered requisite for anyone interested in entrepreneurship. Additionally, the ability to implement growth strategies from a global perspective is essential.
What technology skills other than coding can help MBA applicants stand out from the crowd?
Knowing the basics of coding or any other technological skills should be a focus for applicants that would like to ultimately enter into the technology space. You do not have to be a pro, but this will help you create a coherent story about what you want to do in the future.
What are the differences between undergraduate and graduate admissions that MBA applicants should keep in mind during the admissions process?
Graduate admissions include a lot of the same elements as in the undergraduate application. However, graduate admissions committees will expect a significant demonstration of accomplishment and a clear vision of what you want to accomplish in the future. The top MBA programs will expect your scores and academic C.V. to be excellent, but in addition, they want to see how you have positively impacted their work environment post undergrad, how you have honed and plan to in the future, and how you will contribute to society or your field in the future. This is why the personal statement and interview are so important for the top MBA programs.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions MBA applicants have about the business school admissions process?
Most unsuccessful MBA applicants believe letters of recommendation from high level contacts and coming from a coveted position is enough. There will be a couple of these in every class, but the majority of accepted applicants to top MBA programs will have a more comprehensive package to offer. Take each part of the application process seriously and humbly; all will be needed.
How should MBA candidates differentiate their MBA application resumes from resumes they would use to apply for a job?
Expect that admissions committees will spend more time on your MBA applications, but a lot of what makes a good job C.V. makes a good MBA C.V. Pay close attention to demonstrating how you have been instrumental in changing the course of your employer's initiative for the better. Admissions committees are looking for difference makers and leaders not someone that watches from the sidelines.
What is the most important thing admissions committees look for in an application -- or do they look for the total package instead?
For the top programs, you will need to have a strong test scores (shoot to be in the middle 50 percentile range of accepted applicants), but they are really looking for applicants that have and will make measurable contributions. Through your essays and interviews, convey to an admission committee how you have changed the landscape in your past positions, how you will positively influence the dynamic in the classroom, and what you aspire to be in the future. Applicants that can do this effectively and convincingly will find themselves with successful outcomes.
What's the best piece of advice you can give an aspiring or current MBA student?
For aspiring students, applying is a good, self-reflective exercise as to where you see yourself in the future. Enjoy the process, and consider if an MBA is necessary for you, especially if you are not admitted to a top tier program. Current students should try to build as many genuine relationships as possible. This will really benefit you down the road.