Admissions Events: How to Leave a Lasting Impression

On the scale of big life decisions, deciding to get your MBA is up there.  It’s been a long road for you already, working full-time to gain valuable real-life work experience, aligning your finances, listening to countless professionals with MBA’s under their belts tout their own experiences.  Now, it’s your turn.  But, what’s the first step? 

Go to a Texas MBA Admissions Event and start networking.

Admissions Events provide an opportunity for prospective students to meet school representatives such as alumni, current students and admissions staff to learn about the program.  These events can take place in your local area, such as Coffee Chats where current Texas MBA students share their experiences over a casual cup of joe.  For a more formal setting, an MBA Fair is a great place to meet with admissions reps, compare schools and practice your networking skills.  A wise choice for gauging the classroom environment and faculty character would be to attend a Class Visit.  Another on-campus favorite is an Information Session where you learn specifics about the program and can enjoy lunch with a student and/or attend a quick tour of our facility.  For a more specific recruitment opportunity, you can apply to attend the Women’s Forum or the Diversity Forum (these fun and information-filled weekend events are for prospective students committed to enhancing diversity in business schools and management and provide targeted info on the Texas MBA program.)  Can’t make it to campus at all?  A McCombs Roadshow brings the Dean, admissions and career management reps to you in select major cities.  Or, if you’re really off the grid, take advantage of our helpful Online Events such as pre-deadline admissions chats and recorded webinars.

But how do you make a lasting impression when presumably there will be lots of prospective students with similar goals at these events?  Easy.  Be yourself and be memorable. 


Mr. Rogers had it right: be true to yourself.  Being genuinely “you” is a major factor of the elusive qualification of “fit” that Admissions Committees look for.  We can’t get an accurate picture of how you’ll fit into the academic environment, student culture and professional network if you aren’t being yourself.  Let your personality shine through; are you professional yet quirky?  Or soft-spoken with a quick wit?  Share your story as you would with a new friend, as almost all school representatives will try and picture you in their minds as a future fellow Longhorn.  This shouldn’t be hard, as Longhorns are famously easy to talk to.  And don’t forget to use your description of yourself to demonstrate your knowledge of the program, student organizations and ways you intend to get involved.


Instead of going for the extreme interpretation of being memorable by going for “shock-factor” (although in admissions we deal with our fair-share of TMI), provide a quick and unique fact about yourself as a part of your introduction: Grew up on a family farm? An energy trader that speaks 7 languages?  A daytime CFA moonlighting as a tech-savvy entrepreneur?  These are all totally valuable and memorable nuggets of info to share with us; just as long as you’re able to tie it all back to getting your MBA within the 30 second timeframe of an elevator speech.   Months later when we’re reading your application, we’ll say to ourselves, “Ah yes, that lovely fellow who wants his MBA in Entrepreneurship to market his invention of silent Velcro” and boom.  You are memorable.

What else wins us over?

  • Do your research 
  • Ask questions beyond the FAQs on the website
  • Tell us about a Texas MBA alumnus you know
  • Ask how you can be involved in our community

Conversely, a few obvious no-no’s:

  • Don’t forget our school’s name or how to pronounce it
  • Don’t ask about scholarships right off the bat (it sends the wrong message).  We’ll get to it!
  • Don’t ask “what’s my chance of getting in?” after talking with us for 5 minutes (there are many factors which impact admissions decisions – read about our holistic application review)
  • Don’t forget to register to receive program information, admissions updates and future event info.

So, you’re ready to attend your first Texas MBA Admissions Event armed with the above tips and tricks to make the most of it.  If you’ve learned anything from being in the workforce in the last decade, you know relationships and impressions are just as important as who you are on paper, and the same is true for meeting your dream MBA program.  It starts with the first (and hopefully lasting) impression. 

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Posted in Admissions, Full-Time MBA

Current Students Talk: The Road to McCombs and Texas

Each fall our dean, admissions team, and career management representatives join alumni in several cities for McCombs Roadshow events, sharing the many opportunities that come with the Texas MBA and answering any questions you may have about the road to McCombs.
This week we’re highlighting students from the four Roadshow stops we have in the United States – Chicago,  San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and New York City. Check out what they have to say about Austin, McCombs, and the advice they’d like to share with applicants.

To register for a Roadshow event or see all our upcoming events, please visit the Texas MBA events webpage.

Texas MBA Student Matteo Pacifici

Name: Matteo
City of Origin: Chicago
Emory University
Previous Job: 
Investment Banking/ Wells Fargo
MBA Concentration:
Real Estate and Private Equity

 Why did you choose the Texas MBA program? I attended Texas for the vibrant Austin community, the booming economy of the state of Texas and the  global reach of the McCombs brand.

How has the McCombs community helped you to adjust to your new home? Offering clubs and organizations geared to every interest, McCombs gave me an unprecedented number of ways to interact with like-minded MBAs from the get go.

Any advice for other Chicagoans thinking about attending McCombs? Do it! Chicago isn’t going anywhere. Don’t underestimate the power of challenging yourself in a new environment like Austin. You can spend the rest of your life in big cities, but take the opportunity to enjoy two years in a young, vibrant and entrepreneurial city.

Any advice for folks that are going through the application process? Don’t underestimate the power of introspection. Take the time to reflect on yourself and your priorities and your application will be much more genuine.

What is your favorite Austin or Texas tradition/food/etc. you’ve discovered since attending McCombs? Breakfast Tacos… All-Day, Everyday

Texas MBA Student Poonam PrasadName: Poonam
City of Origin: San Francisco Bay Area
Undergrad: UT Austin
Previous Job: Operations/ Google Inc.
MBA Concentration: High Tech Marketing, Brand and
Product Management

Why did you choose the Texas MBA program?
 Some aspects of the Texas MBA program that solidified my decision to attend were the diverse student body, highly collaborative environment, nationally ranked marketing program, and incredibly multifaceted city!

Any advice for other San Franciscans thinking about attending McCombs? Many of the qualities that make the Bay Area so wonderful can be found in Austin as well: the blossoming tech scene, the dynamic and self-driven oasis of students and professionals, the abundance of live music and music festivals, and the plethora of foodie-approved restaurants and institutions. Aside from the heat and humidity, adjusting from a life in the Bay Area to one in Austin with McCombs is virtually seamless.

How has the McCombs community helped you to adjust to your new home? Everyone in the program is very approachable and helpful when it comes to choosing apartments, picking classes, and getting acquainted with the ins and outs of becoming a longhorn. The second years are more than happy to lend insight and advice on professors and extracurricular activities, and your fellow first years will become your foundation and family as you embark on all sorts of adventures together – from group projects to interviews to social outings.

Any advice on things to do prior to starting school (after they are admitted)? Take full advantage of all the peripheral programs McCombs offers before session officially starts. You’ll forge long-lasting bonds with your classmates and faculty, as well as reinforce your sense of quantitative intuition, by attending events like the Bay Area coffees and luncheons, summer expeditions abroad, and academic boot camp. There are so many ways to feel like a part of the Texas MBA experience before even attending your first class. Every single day I find myself blown away by the level of thought and resources put into the construction of the program at McCombs, and there’s simply no place else I’d rather be. Hook ‘em!

Texas MBA Student Daniel GoldbergName: Daniel
City of Origin: Washington, D.C.
Undergrad: George Washington University
Previous Job: Strategy Consulting/ Booz Allen

MBA Concentration: High Tech Marketing &
Product Management

Why did you choose the Texas MBA program? I came from a  consulting background, and wanted to pivot into the High Tech field.  Austin’s entrepreneurial spirit combined with McCombs elite reputation  and the robust Longhorn network made the decision a no-brainer.

Favorite memory of DC: My wife and I loved attending the presidential inaugurations and watching airplanes take off at Gravelly Point park. The restaurants on U-Street and 14th was also a favorite weekend destination.

Any advice for other Washingtonians thinking about attending McCombs? You’ll be well prepared for the heat since it’s not much worse than DC. Also the cultural shift of having most people be a bit more relaxed and approachable was a pleasant surprise.

Any advice on things to do prior to starting school (after they are admitted) Get your significant other to join SAS so she/he can get plugged into that community, scout out neighborhoods near school before signing the lease, and try and get settled into your place before school starts. When it does there is very little time with your core classes for any other obligations.

Favorite “Austin” or “Texas” tradition/food/etc. you’ve discovered since attending McCombs? I thought DC had food trucks figured out, boy was I wrong. The food truck scene in Austin is incredible, with some being located on the property of restaurants and bars. I’ve been eating breakfast tacos three times a day!

Texas MBA Student Tiffany GdowikName: Tiffany
City of Origin: Washington, D.C.
Undergrad: The University of Virginia
Previous Job: Dispute Consulting/ Duff & Phelps
MBA Concentration: Corporate Finance

Why did you choose the Texas MBA program? Why you decided to attend the Texas MBA? The experience of an MBA program – from the culture of the program to the learning environment – was one of my top factors in making my decision. The Texas MBA stood out among the others, almost immediately when I visited. The strong alumni base was also very appealing.

Any advice for other Washingtonians thinking about attending McCombs? I lived in the DC area for seven years after college and was ready for a change. While I really enjoyed DC, it has been so refreshing to break out of the bubble, spend time in Austin meeting new people, and take action on my career goals. Be bold and step out of your comfort zone, that is a valuable part of the MBA experience.

Any advice for folks that are going through the application process? Hang in there and don’t be afraid to be yourself. It’s so easy to think of the process as one-sided (programs selecting you) but you want to be admitted into the program that’s the right fit for you too. Think of this as an opportunity to dig deep, figure out who you are and tell your story. When it comes time to making a decision, stay true to yourself and your goals.

Anything else that you would like to share? Kudos to you for taking this important step in applying for B-school, you won’t regret it!

Texas MBA Student Sherri Bohman

Name: Sherri
City of Origin: New York City
Undergrad: Lehigh University
Previous Job: Marketing Manager/ AllianceBerstein
MBA Concentration: Marketing and Entrepreneurship 

Why did you choose the Texas MBA program?  I chose to attend McCombs because of the exceptional Entrepreneurship Program, the diversity among students, and to expand my network beyond the Northeast.

Any advice for other New Yorkers thinking about attending McCombs? As someone who is hoping to get back to the Northeast post-graduation, I felt that two years in Austin would be a nice break from the big city to concentrate on my studies among new people and in a new environment. Think about your post-MBA plans and what you hope to gain out of your MBA experience when applying to schools!

Any advice for folks that are going through the application process? My advice for those going through the application process is to reach out to alumni and current students. This will give you an idea of the types of people you may be surrounded by if you choose to attend that school.

Favorite “Austin” or “Texas” tradition/food/etc. you’ve discovered since attending McCombs? One of my favorite things about Austin is all of the outdoor festivals and concerts. I also love the food truck scene!

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Posted in Admissions, Blog, Community, Full-Time MBA, Students

Professional or Executive: Which MBA Is Right For You?

Professional or Executive: Which MBA Is Right For You?

Professional or Executive: Which MBA Is Right For You?Compare the class profiles of our Executive MBA program and professional MBA programs (Evening MBA, MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth, and MBA at Houston), and the differences can seem quite obvious. But there’s actually a broad grey area, career-wise, where many professionals could plug and play very well in either type of program.

In the end, it’s your call on where to submit your application, but remember it’s a two way street. You decide where you belong, and the admissions committee agrees.

Here is some advice on how to make an informed choice, and what to do if you think you may not “fit” the profile. Read more ›

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Posted in Admissions, Evening MBA, Executive MBA, Executive MBA at Mexico City, MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth, MBA at Houston

A Few Helpful Distractions

From Assistant Dean Tina Mabley to the New Texas Full-Time MBA Class of 2016

Well. You did it. Congratulations on finishing your first set of midterms as a Texas MBA!

Since you may find yourself bored in the days ahead (kidding), I wanted to send some good reads and time killers that will actually help you in your pursuits in the weeks ahead.

(Best Podcast) First, a bit of a confession: I am a podcast junky. During midterms last week, I was talking with Jake Obstfeld about a recent podcast we both heard. We agreed that it should be required listening for first year MBAs. Alex Blumberg (of This American Life and Planet Money) follows himself as he tries to launch a new business. In the first episode, he gets an audience with Chris Sacca, one of the savviest investors on the west coast (investor in Twitter, Uber, Instagram, Kickstarter etc). Give a listen. Chris Sacca gives one of the best spontaneous pitch lessons I’ve heard. It is called: How Not to Pitch a Billionaire

(Best Secret Resource) Second, if there is one resource that I consistently hear students say they WISH they had taken advantage of earlier in their time in school, it is the business research center and the business librarian. Our team at McCombs recently highlights some ways students use this great resource to impress companies and inform their job search. “Telling a client something they don’t know about their own product is very difficult, and we couldn’t have done it without the Business Research Center,” Aaron Hobbins MBA ’15. Get to know our business librarian, April Kessler. You may not need this resource today but find out more so you can use it when you need it.

(Best Training on the Side) Finally, I wanted to re-introduce you to is a leading online learning company with tutorials for business, software, technology and creative skills. As a student at McCombs, you have free access thousands of video tutorials that are indexed and broken down into 2-3 minute segments so you can focus on exactly what you want to learn. If you find a good one, let me know and we will create a Greatest Hits play list.

(Best life lessons from a Navy Seal/Longhorn)Oh, and one more. If you are still looking for things to do other than homework, here’s one last one from our UT Graduation, a speech from Admiral McRaven. If you haven’t seen it, it is worth watching the video instead of reading the summary. He is a great story teller and each lesson has a story. It begins with: Make your bed.

Congrats again on this first round.


Posted in Blog, Community, Full-Time MBA, Students

You’ve Got Application Questions, We’ve Got Answers

You’ve Got Application Questions, We’ve Got Answers

Application FAQsWhen all else fails…

You know how this ends. Most likely you’re thinking “How hard can this be?” But trust me, after serving on the admissions committee for a top-ranked MBA program for the past five years, the simple act of reading the directions can provide you with opportunities to have more meaningful interactions with the admissions committee during the application process.

This past year not only did we overhaul our admissions section of the website, we implemented a new application system that includes embedded instructional videos and links to help you get through the process as you work through your application. Even with all that there’s always a special situation that wasn’t addressed, and we’re here to help everyone with questions.

So here are some A’s to your top 5 FAQs, and some tips that go above and beyond what the instructions may provide. Read more ›

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Posted in Admissions, Evening MBA, Executive MBA, Executive MBA at Mexico City, Full-Time MBA, MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth, MBA at Houston

Managing Your 2015 Application: Acing the First MBA Test


handsArguably, one of the most challenging things about business school is clearing the first hurdle: completing the application. Admissions applications require quite an expenditure of effort, time and resources.  To match your laborious efforts, the Texas MBA Admissions Committee is equally committed to a meticulous, holistic review of each and every application.  So, as we head into the Fall 2014 admissions season, here are some general tips on how to master your first test as an MBA – your application.




  • To Study or Not to Study: If you are gainfully employed, the thought of studying for a test again may seem like the last thing you want to do at the end of a long work day, but our advice is that studying is well-worth the effort.  Be sure to take a formal GMAT/GRE prep course and take a few sample tests to get a feel for pace and content.


  • Well, that didn’t go very well: Take your test early so that if your score isn’t what you’dtesting hope it would be, you will have time to re-take it before your target admissions deadline. While the Admissions Committee only considers your highest score as a key determinant of your academic propensity, it is just one aspect of a holistic review process, so don’t get too hung up on your score.


  • GRE vs GMAT:  As for which test to take (GRE or GMAT), admissions has no preference. scale However, in case you might want to pursue Investment Banking or Consulting, some of the top companies in these industries require the GMAT for recruitment purposes, so taking the GMAT for both admissions and reusing your scores for the recruitment process may be a way to kill two birds with one stone.  For more information on choosing which test to take, check out our GRE versus GMAT blog


pathNo minimum number of years is required, but we strongly recommend two years of full-time post-baccalaureate work experience.  Generally, students do better in the program with real-life work experience and can participate in classroom discussions with real context to draw from. The admissions committee considers how your skill set, leadership positions, teamwork and responsibilities relate to your intended course of study as well as your short term and long term career goals, so make it easy for us to follow your journey!


workingUnless you write in a daily journal or diary, sitting down to write about yourself can seem like a completely foreign concept and inspires nothing but a bad case of writer’s block.  Your best bet is to answer the question directly, use concrete examples, and illustrate your voice and personality, background, goals and intentions for acquiring an MBA.  The optional essay is a good opportunity for you to address anything not conveyed in the rest of your application: such as academic performance or test scores, or perhaps a personal event/circumstance that you think has an effect on your MBA candidacy.


Your resume should be professional and fit on one page unless you have more than 15 years of experience.  Don’t get too creative with formatting either to squish stuff in there (8-point font is hard to ignore…), make sure your work experience is listed in chronological order, includes months and years in the date ranges, and has comprehensible titles and descriptions of duties.  Also your resume is a great place to put your honors, achievements, extra-curricular activities and volunteer organizations.


This section is pretty straightforward.  We will see your major/minors, cumulative and major GPAs, and transcript grades on your online application.  However, it’s important to take advantage of the personal essays, optional essay, and interview (if one is granted) to explain any moves between schools/majors.  Also, if you already have a Master’s degree, be prepared to answer how you currently use it and why you think getting another one is a value-add for your career.


awardThis information is used to provide some personal character to your application.  We ask ourselves, what does this applicant do outside of their professional life?  How did they spend the hours during undergrad when they weren’t spent in class?   Highlight your personal honors and achievements, any non-professional leadership positions in the community and any extra-curricular activities you were involved with in undergrad.


The first step to acing this part of the application is to pick the right people.  After that, hopefully they will write a stellar letter on your behalf (if the wrong person is chosen, this can seriously backfire.)  We think the best letters are written by current or previous supervisors (team lead, director, manager, etc.) or someone with supervisory oversight of your work.  Their title isn’t as important as their experience in evaluating your performance as a professional.  If you are self-employed or work for a family business, try and avoid asking Mom to write your letter.  Instead, some good alternatives are a client, a professional mentor, accountant or trusted co-worker.  Try and avoid faculty recommendation letters since they tend to focus more on your ability to show up for your class and submit homework on time and don’t really give us the insight we need.


If you are an international student, you’ll undoubtedly have questions about your TOEFL/IELTS score submission.  And yes, we do grant waivers if you meet one of the 3 criteria:

  1. You have lived and worked full-time in the U.S. or in a country where English is the official language for at least two of the past four years (see country list here).
  2. You hold a masters degree from a college or university located in the U.S. or from a country where English is the official language (see country list here).
  3. You were educated solely in English for your undergraduate and/or prior graduate degree.

We don’t publish an average TOEFL score since it is such a small statistical subset.  However, the TOEFL score is simply one measure we use to gauge English proficiency ESL course along with your personal essays and in-person interview (if one is granted.)

We hope you find these application tips helpful!  Remember, we are here to help, so please reach out to the McCombs Admissions Committee at or 512-471-7698 for questions or advice on your application.  Happy Applying!

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Posted in Admissions, Full-Time MBA

Letters of Recommendation: How to Leverage the “Third” Person

If you’re like me, asking your supervisor or your colleague to write a letter detailing your virtues makes you feel incredibly uncomfortable.  “So, tell me again how I’m amazing?  And don’t spare any details!”  But a glowing letter of recommendation for your MBA Admissions application is oh-so critical.  Here’s how you can leverage your personal testimonials.

Sure, you’ve worked hard over the past few years and have earned a good praising, but why must you have to ask for it, and in writing? Well, the answer is easy: as an Admissions Officer, I need perspective on your business acumen, your personality, and your leadership and teamwork skills to confirm your claims of awesome-ness from someone other than yourself. Think about it, you have complete control over every aspect of your MBA Application, except for the letters of recommendation.  You’ve already written essays, submitted a resume, took your tests, submitted your transcripts and you may have also been interviewed. Now it’s time for a third party to weigh in and offer us a new perspective that will hopefully add depth and value to your overall application, but most importantly a good recommendation will provide a CREDIBLE corroboration of your positive attributes.


The best letter of recommendation will come from a Direct Supervisor or equivalent. Nobody knows your capabilities in the business world better than the person supervising you in your current role.  This person should have some sort of oversight or supervisory involvement in the work that you do.  Even better if they write your performance evaluations!  This means they are used to thinking about you and your skill set.  This person should be able to come up with clear examples of these skills, so therefore first-hand knowledge of your measurable success is also crucial. 

There are of course some exceptions when asking your Direct Supervisor isn’t the best bet. Perhaps you’re new to the position or your Supervisor may be new to the organization or role. This could be bad news if you or they haven’t been in the role long enough to speak intelligently about your skill set and abilities.  Sometimes, it’s conflict of interest that prevents you from asking your Direct Supervisor for a recommendation letter.  For example, if your Supervisor is also your mother in the case of a family business. (See next section for advice on who to ask instead.)

Lastly, there may be another situation that complicates you asking your Supervisor; they could be opposed to you leaving your position for an MBA (if you’re applying to our full-time program), or in rare situations, you may not have a healthy relationship with your supervisor or you may feel that asking them for a recommendation to business school would jeopardize your opportunity for promotion or a raise.

All of these are valid circumstances you may want to include in the Optional Essay, to give us context and reasons for why you didn’t ask your Direct Supervisor.


Other good letter of recommendation options would be a former Supervisor at a previous job, a Project Manager, or a professional colleague. You may also consider a business client, lawyer, accountant, industry mentor or other peer professional if you’re in a family business setting or in a consulting or advertising role. Remember that whoever you choose needs to be able to discuss with us in detail your qualities, skills, and virtues. Also, don’t just pick the CEO or President of the company.  Just because they know your name and you have shared an elevator ride with them doesn’t mean they know you well enough to recommend you for b-school.  We’ve read enough letters of recommendation to know when somebody knows of you, and when they know you.


Make sure to let your recommenders know way in advance you are going to request their help. I would even suggest letting them know a good three months ahead of time if possible, so that you are not rushing them if they haven’t completed it a month out, and you start getting concerned they won’t submit the letter on time. It is also a good idea to meet with them, let them know what your short and long-term goals are and why McCombs is the best school for you, and offer them a copy of your updated resume. That way they can talk about their belief in your direction and goals with some background.


Most importantly, make sure to ask someone who actually likes you. Sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how many candidates have letters of recommendation submitted by people who write just a few words (“She’s really great.”), come up with poor examples (“One time we had a problem with a client, and she handled it well.”, or clearly just don’t think that highly of you (“She performs equally well when compared to her peers at a similar level.”  Yikes.  You might as well have asked a perfect stranger to write it and it probably would have come out better.

Good luck in selecting your recommenders! We look forward to reading these glowing professional love letters soon.

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Posted in Admissions, Full-Time MBA, Uncategorized

Understanding the 2015 Essay Questions


Each year, like most business schools, we update our application essay prompts in an effort to better glean important information from our candidates.  The essay is a great opportunity to do a few things: one, it shows your writing skills; two, it gives us a glimpse into your personality; but maybe most importantly, it helps answer a few very important questions that we need answered to best determine if you are right for McCombs.  Instead of giving you a vague open-ended prompt, there are actually a few burning topics we need you to be sure to cover, namely having to do with why you want to attend McCombs, who you are both professionally and personally, and what goals you want to achieve while in our program and beyond.  You have some work to do to convince us that we are the right program for you, and I’m here to offer some advice to help you get started on this process.  

Below, you will find our new essay prompts with just a bit of guidance to help you get started. The first essay is virtually the same as last year.  I will still offer some best practice guidance to help you put your best pen forward.  The second essay consolidates what used to be multiple essays into one taut question.  Take a moment to review my suggestions, and in the end, if you still have more questions, please email us at


Imagine that you are at the Texas MBA Orientation for the Class of 2017.  Please introduce yourself to your new classmates, and include information you feel relevant to both your personal and professional life.  Select only one communication method that you would like to use for your response. 

  1. Write an essay (250 words)
  2. Share a video introduction (one minute)
  3. Share your profile

AO Advice:

Be creative!  And please read the prompt.  The operative word in the first sentence is “imagine”!  We have had so many candidates simply write a paragraph about themselves, no imagination employed in the process.  If you do that, we can only assume that you either did not read the prompt, or are simply recycling an intro essay you used for another school.  We ask that you imagine you are introducing yourself to your new, fellow students, at your New Student Orientation.  You would not introduce yourself by starting out, “Plato once said…,” and therefore any essays that start as such have missed the mark. 

Also, what makes you interesting and unique are both your personal and professional interests and attributes.  Therefore, an intro that only discusses work experience, or only discusses previous life experience, is incomplete.  Give us a rounded mix, so that we better understand who you are in a more complete sense, and not only in one facet of your life. 

Finally, the choice is yours: written essay, page, or video.  We have seen significant success in each platform.  Therefore, choose your strongest suit, just make sure you use the medium well.  If your skill is in writing, focus simply on the essay.  If you have a knack for creative flare, color, design and photos, then have fun with the  And if you want to create a video, and rely on your voice and/or any video editing skills you might have, then we’re excited to meet you that way as well.  Either way have fun, and do not take this essay for granted—it can go a long way to setting the stage for your application.     


In the Texas MBA program, we promote a diverse and collaborative community by providing opportunities for growth in an academically rigorous environment.  Please discuss why McCombs is the right program for you, what you hope to gain from your time in the Texas MBA Program both personally and professionally, and how you will contribute to your classmates’ experiences. (500 words)

AO Advice:

Here we are getting to the nitty-gritty.  This is your chance to really convey to us your passion, excitement, personality, and experience, while also conveying how that experience relates to your MBA and career goals.  By the time we read your essays, we have already seen your resume and scores.  Here we need you to expand upon the bare facts, and convey to us why you are the perfect student for our program. 

I have gone in depth in a previous blog post on how to convey your personality in an essay, so I will not go deep on that topic in this post.  Instead, I am going to focus more on approach and framework, and less on content. 

First, this essay is complex, and yet we expect it to be concise and to-the-point; how do you do this in one 500 word essay?  Once again, I recommend you start first by reading the prompt carefully.  We are not asking you to be flowery and to tiptoe around the cores subjects.  We are looking for a few things, and it is in your best interest to let us know specifically what we are looking for.  I’ll map it out for you by taking apart our prompt:

  • …why McCombs is the right program for you…: Focus here on the words McCombs and you.  A word to the wise: never, ever submit this essay if you have not given us specifics!  Make sure at some point in the essay you discuss why McCombs, specifically, is the right program for you.  Classes, concentrations, organizations, professors, unique opportunities, there is so much going on at McCombs.  If you can’t outline in easy terms why you are interested in our program in particular, then you will not be competitive.  So before you write your essay, I recommend you map out in specifics why McCombs is right for you.  Then, when you write out your essay, make sure these specifics are mentioned at some point, so that we see your passion and dedication to our program, and do not assume you just reused the same generic essay you used for another MBA program. 
  • …what you hope to gain…personally and professionally…: Once again specifics!  The primary difference between this portion of the prompt and the previous is here we are asking you to connect, in clear terms, how McCombs will help you achieve your career objective.  Therefore, my recommendation is that you create a 5 and 10 year career plan, and then see what classes, organizations, and opportunities that we offer that specifically speak to this career plan.   Then connect the dots.  Once you write your essay, you should be able to easily speak to these connections.  We should not be left wondering why you, with your specific career goals, would want to come to McCombs.  This is your opportunity to convey in no complex language why we are right for your career growth.
  • …how you will contribute to your classmates’ experiences…: Lastly, as you are mapping out your reasons for attending our program based on specific course and organization offerings, also remember that we pride ourselves first and foremost on our collaborative and diverse community.  We work very hard to find individuals excited about being a part of this community in particular, so in what ways will you contribute?  What student organizations will you support and why?  Will you start a new student organization?  Will you contribute in a special way to your study groups?  Are you excited to be an active alumnus?  Convince us that you are indispensable to our community, and you will have done yourself a great service in developing a strong application. 

Those are my suggestions for mapping out your answers before you begin to weave it all together in a cohesive 500 word essay.  Now you have the challenge of putting it all together, and here is where you get to be creative.  I do not have any specific advice for you here, as I am looking forward to reading your unique responses and to see your own voice come forth in the essays.  However, if you employ standard, strong writing techniques, you should be fine.  One way or another, avoid convoluted sentences, going off topic, name dropping, vague or confusing goals, citing inaccurate classes, professors, or student organizations, or calling us by any other name besides McCombs or the Texas MBA (a common mistake for people who reuse essays).  Also, DON’T REUSE ESSAYS!  We can tell.

That’s it for my advice to you!  As always, please email us at if you have any other questions.  Get started early and edit, edit, edit!  Your essays can really send a strong application into orbit, so good luck, and happy applying! 

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Posted in Admissions, Full-Time MBA

Acing It: GRE vs GMAT

Life is all about choices.  Lease or buy?  Diet versus regular? GRE or the GMAT? But when personal preference for aspartame doesn’t immediately establish you firmly in one camp or another, it’s time to stop and think what the choice says about you.  When it comes to choosing between taking the GRE or the GMAT for your MBA application, how do you choose the right test for you?

In this post, I won’t address the logistical implications of each exam (such as the GRE is cheaper and offered at more locations and the GMAT is accepted at more business schools so it’s more bang for your buck.)  Nope, not going to go there.  You can Google yourself silly with all of their basic differences. Instead, I will address choosing the test from an admissions perspective, assuming you’re planning on submitting an application to the Texas MBA Program sometime soon.

Basic case in point:  the Admission Committee doesn’t care which test you take.  Ultimately it’s up to you.  We don’t believe intrinsically the opinion that one test is better at demonstrating your preparedness for b-school than the other because we believe that standardized test scores are not the only thing on your application that illustrate your academic abilities.  If it were used alone, perhaps the more traditional approach of using the GMAT would suffice, but it’s not.  We use many, many other things.  But that’s a whole other post.

Much like other choices you make on your application, if you choose wrong you can put yourself in a position of unnecessary disadvantage.  We realize the tests are different and applicants choose each for varied and valid reasons, therefore we couldn’t have a preference at face value.  However, what we DO prefer is that you think hard about which test you need to take within the context of your overall goals.



The GMAT is required for most Consulting and Investment Banking companies because they use your score as a baseline qualifier for the recruiting process.  If Consulting or I-Banking are in your sights, this means that the GMAT is the best choice because you could take it once and use your score for both your Admissions application as well as your career recruitment profile.

Additionally, some recruiters outside the I-Banking and Consulting space may not have a strong preference either way which test you take, however they may have more experience assessing skill set based on the GMAT.  If you choose to take the GRE you should understand that it is less common and therefore makes it more difficult for recruiters to compare these results against the majority of applicants that take the GMAT.


Sometimes, the GRE is the best choice for those applicants who are pursuing their MBAs in conjunction with another Masters, like in our Dual Degree programs.  Once again, taking only the GRE allows you to apply to both programs separately with one score, a convenience factor that most Dual Degree applicants very much appreciate given how much more paperwork is required to submit applications for two programs.


Don’t qualify as an applicant pursuing Consulting/I-Banking/Dual Degree?  There are still some key differences in the tests that may have some bearing on your decision for which to take.  A little history lesson: MBA programs only started accepting the GRE as an alternative to the GMAT over the last few years.

Alumni and hiring companies are more familiar with the GMAT and its score scale.  With the GRE new on the scene, they may need clarification regarding what the GRE score actually means and how the quantitative and verbal score sections may translate to the GMAT scores they are used to.

MBA Admissions Officers are also new to the GRE setting.  However, many of us have worked with the test and have recruited amazing candidates to our programs since we started accepting it a few years ago and are more comfortable assessing verbal and quantitative skill sets based on those scores.

So ultimately, which test is best?  Our advice is to choose wisely using your academic and career goals and knowledge of each test’s reputation in both the admissions context and the professional world to make the best choice for you.  If none of the above circumstances speak to your situation, then truly you are free to pick the exam you prefer.  Either way, we say “good luck!”

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Posted in Admissions, Evening MBA, Executive MBA, Executive MBA at Mexico City, Full-Time MBA, MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth, MBA at Houston

Catching Up With Mario Barrett, MBA ’14


sockwork-newWe had the chance to chat with Mario Barrett (MBA ‘14), a West Point graduate and veteran, about his new venture, Sockwork: Socks With A Purpose. Mario started Sockwork with his wife, Tina Longo, in April of 2014. Mario recently graduated with the Class of 2014, so we wanted to catch up with him to learn more about this exciting new business now that he’s finished the program.

Tell us a little about Sockwork: Socks With A Purpose.

MB: At Sockwork: Socks With A Purpose, a sock subscription means more than never having to remember to buy socks. The venture is a sock of the month club with a great twist, in that customers get to help support this veteran-owned company and be part of creating ongoing funds to organizations that assist military veterans. Sockwork sends our customers two high-quality pairs of socks each month and allows the customer to customize their order between fun and professional styles.

In the short-term, we want to build our subscriber base to a point where it makes sense to manufacture our own line of socks here in the USA. For the long-term, we want to do two things. First, we want to create a community effect with our socks. Our socks mean something and the people that wear them not only love great socks but support a worthy cause. Second, we want to pioneer a new business model for other veteran-owned businesses to follow. This will help ensure that needed money reaches veteran charities even during times when war and the needs of people who served may be less visible to the public.

What key things do you want prospective customers to know about Sockwork?

MB: We supply socks from Richer Poorer, a brand known for high-quality and fashion appeal. Having these socks delivered serves as a personal convenience or thoughtful pampering gift for a loved one. Premium socks last and add comfort to daily life, and they’re a product that everyone uses.

Mario and Tina

Mario, and his wife Tina, co-founders of Sockwork: Socks With A Purpose

In addition to the time and money savings, a sock subscription allows people a simple way to devote some of their dollars to support people who served their country. Sockwork supplies a percentage of the money from its sock of the month subscribers to a rotating selection of veteran charities. As the network of veteran entrepreneurs grows, the volume of their donations will increase, a tried and tested method for creating lasting change.

As shoppers look for ways to make socially-conscious decisions, this company has created a hassle-free option for making a difference. Buying socks has become easier and more meaningful, thanks to the heart-centered monthly sock club, Sockwork: Socks With a Purpose.

How has your education in the Texas MBA Program influenced or helped your approach to running Sockwork?

MB: Coming from the Army, I didn’t know much about finance, accounting, or just about anything in the business world. If we had started this business two years ago, I wouldn’t have thought about tracking the cost of every variable, pricing, building a marketing plan, or how to differentiate ourselves from the competition.

The Texas MBA program provided me with the skills of how to evaluate a business model and understand if it is viable or not. I’ve learned about the importance of margin and breaking down costs to the most granular level to track profitability. My marketing classes introduced me to the basics of brand awareness and my strategic management classes taught me how to apply a Five Forces analysis to differentiate our company from competitors and execute more effectively. All in all, the Texas MBA program gave me the tools to approach this business in a much more cautious and methodical manner.

To learn more about Sockwork, visit

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Posted in Alumni, Community, Full-Time MBA
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