Tag: admissions (page 1 of 2)

Before You Apply: Get a Great Recommendation Letter

Let’s start at the beginning. The instructions given on the Texas MBA application are as follows:

We require one professional letter of recommendation from a person who has supervised your work and/or has assessed your performance during your career. Professional recommendations are strongly recommended (i.e. direct supervisor, indirect supervisor, or a client). If you are unable to request a letter of recommendation from your direct supervisor or feel that another recommender would be more appropriate, please explain why in your optional statement. 

When you think about it, you (the applicant) have direct control over most components of your application – you write your essays, you take your exam, you earn your GPA, you draft your resume. The recommendation letter is one of the only things you rely on someone else to provide, which is why it can seem daunting. Circumstances differ for every applicant, so deciding who you should ask will vary depending upon your personal professional situation.  Below are some scenarios to help guide you in choosing your recommenders.

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Your Full-Time MBA Admissions Team Members

Texas MBA Admissions is traveling around the world this summer and fall to attend events near you. This is your opportunity to meet our Admissions Officers and ask your questions about our student culture, academics, and the application process. Get to know who you can expect to meet on your journey to McCombs below, and we hope to see you soon!

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The MBA Admissions Interview: How to Totally Crush It

From the Texas Full-Time MBA Admissions Committee

You submit your application. You wait and wait and then, TA DA! An interview invitation appears in your inbox.  Your immediate reaction is probably several mental exclamation points (!!!), but I think it’s fair to say that all MBA applicants feel pretty dichotomous when it comes to the interview experience. Something like:

Yay I got invited to interview! But oh my goodness, now I’m totally freaked out and have a million questions; What are they going to ask? Should I be myself or should I open with a joke I read online? Should I bring my resume in strawberry-scented triplicate? What do I wear? Should I interview on-campus, via Skype, or off-campus? Is it better to interview with a current student, admissions officer or alumni? Should I send a follow-up thank you via email, a hand-written card, or none at all?  How do I set up the interview in the first place?! Eeek!

Breathe. Like anything else, your MBA interview invitation is an opportunity. While some applicants may look forward to it, others may not exactly enjoy the anxiety. If you are a member of the latter group, look at it this way: this interview can be just the thing the Admissions Committee needs to stitch together the rest of your application elements with a genuine, prepared, and poised interview performance.

The interview affords one of the only formal opportunities for official face-to-face interaction during the application process. Seize it.

You are most likely applying and subsequently interviewing with multiple MBA programs. This means managing several different interview processes, a complicated project given the variability among schools. It’s important to be familiar with how the Texas MBA Program runs its interview operations.

Instructions are plastered all over the email invitation to interview and the online systems you use to book the interview, so be sure to read all instructions very carefully before scheduling anything. Generally speaking, our interview structure is this:

Interviews are by invitation only and can come at any time during the application round. There are four different interview types: on-campus with a student, via Skype with a student, off-campus in your local city with an alumni interviewer, or at a HUB city location with an admissions officer. For each type (excluding alumni interviews) there is an online calendar from which you can select an interview slot that works with your schedule. We will inform you of the last date your interview needs to be completed. The only exception to this is booking an interview in your local city with an alumni interviewer; that process is slightly different, but we provide the step-by-step instructions in our interview invitation communications if you decide to go that route.

Rest assured all of our current student interviewers, alumni volunteer interviewers and admissions officers are fully trained and capable of conducting an interview that is professional, fair, impartial and helpful. Interviews typically last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. All interviews are blind, which means the interviewer does not have access to anything about you or your application, except for your resume. Even so, it’s always a good idea to bring a copy for the interviewer to reference during the conversation (this is required if you are interviewing with an alumni interviewer).

Most interviews follow the general framework of introductions, questions from the interviewer for you to answer, then some time is left at the end for you to ask your questions about the program and/or application process. Once the interview is completed, you are finished! There is nothing further you need to do and your application is considered complete. All that’s left is to wait patiently for our final decision in the weeks that follow.

TIPS & PITFALLS TO AVOID:

Choose Wisely: Decisions, decisions. Interview type selection is like deciding on your coffee order at Starbucks – copious options, but there’s something for everyone. Each type of interview affords individual benefits. If you’re located proximate to Austin, try to come to campus for an interview. If you have never been to campus or met us in person before, we highly recommend interviewing on campus to get a feel for the facility and community culture. You might even be able to book a class visit, information session, or tour and interview all in the same weekend. A special “Lunch & Learn” session will be offered on select interview dates. If you can’t make the trip due to work conflicts or you are internationally-based, you might consider taking advantage of our alumni interviewers in a city near you. We also offer HUB interviews in markets around the world, such as Korea, China, India and Mexico. Or maybe none of that works for you and Skype is the only way to get it done. No problem, that option is always available. We see your interview type selection as entirely logistical and do not hold it against you if you don’t interview with us on campus.

Don’t Be On Time – Be Early: Arriving early is “Interviewing 101,” yet it still manages to falter even the most prepared of candidates.  Arriving early is even more critical if you’ve never been to campus or navigated UT Austin parking before. As for Skype, your instructions ask that you are prepared to begin the Skype video call at the allotted interview start time, but it’s always a good idea to arrive 5-10 minutes prior to work out any inevitable technological hiccups that crop up.

“And that’s why I’m scared of heights and allergic to strawberries…Wait, what was the question again?”:  You’d be surprised how many times at the end of an applicant’s long-winded tangential answer we are asked to repeat the original question. Most often this happens to people who try to cram too much into the first answer for fear of not being given an opportunity later on to address that well-rehearsed example. Don’t worry, we’ll get to it! Plus, sometimes there is an opportunity at the end of an interview to mention anything we didn’t address in the formal line of questioning.

Loosen Up: Given our program’s famously friendly culture, our interviews are relatively informal. If you still find yourself nervous, practice your answers in front of a mirror, a friend or a willing stranger and ask them how you did. Did you answer the question? Did you rush through it? Take a moment to outline your answer in your mind first, and then address it calmly and confidently. Don’t get too comfortable, though. While we’re an easy-going bunch, maintaining an appropriate level of professionalism is always a good idea. This includes professional language and attire as if you were interviewing for a job (that means you too, Skypers! I’m sure your pajamas are lovely, but we’d much rather see a blazer.).

Know What We’re Looking For: We listen for confidence, clear and concise communication of career goals, concrete examples of teamwork and leadership, in-depth knowledge of our MBA program, and overall genuine enthusiasm. Also, the interview can be a place to showcase secondary skills that are difficult for us to determine solely based on your application: interview skills, self-awareness, communication style, and “hire-ability.” Keep these in mind so we can get a feel for the application intangibles.

Know Your Audience: Remember, the Admissions Committee doesn’t have a preference for which interview type you elect or who you interview with, just as long as you prepare for your audience. Are you interviewing with an admissions officer?  Read about them on our Admissions Committee page. Our alumni interviewer profiles can be found on our website.  If you’re interviewing via Skype or on-campus, be cognizant that not every student has the same background as you!  Steer clear of industry jargon.

Come with questions: A good list of questions for your interviewer can illustrate a few key things about you as a candidate: you’ve done your research, you care about our program, you have envisioned yourself as an MBA, and you can formulate coherent thoughts under pressure. We usually leave anywhere from 10-15 minutes for questions, so limit your list to 2-3 good ones and have a few backups.

While our interviewing style is admittedly less intense than corporate recruiters, don’t let our laid-back Austin attitude fool you. The Admissions Committee uses the interview as a way to add character, depth and spirit to your written application, so keep these tips in mind to ensure a positive outcome.

Good luck and Hook’ Em!

 

The NON-Numeric You: You Are Not Your GPA

From the Texas MBA Admissions Team

You Are Not Your GPA

This may come as a shock to some of you. Brace yourself. In the world of MBA Admissions, your numbers are not everything. By “numbers”, we’re referring to the ones applicants tend to obsess over when they submit an MBA application, i.e., their undergraduate GPA, total GMAT/GRE score, quant and verbal scores, percentile, etc.

We’re all human beings, right? But with a large population and coveted seats in education programs, we tend to organize ourselves into rankings and measurable figures to sort out whose best, better than best and champion supreme. But, we’re here to tell you that you are not just a simple sum of your parts. The same way that you are not just your handedness. Left-handed or right-handed, it’s a part of you, but it certainly doesn’t DEFINE who you are. When you enter a room, someone doesn’t say “Oh, hey, there’s Left-Handed-Ricky,” right? Well, they might, but that’s just a lame nickname.

Though, we should say up front that if the sum has parts, it’s important to get those right. That’s why nailing your GMAT and putting your best GPA/foot forward is a no-brainer. In our review of a typical MBA candidate, GMAT and GPA alone do not offer any consistent indication of success in the program. Even if you do have a 780 GMAT, this does not, in itself, indicate to us that you will succeed, make good grades, find an internship, thrive in your study groups, or find a good job after graduation.

It is the combination of strong numbers, your unique story, commitment to McCombs, and many other things that indicate how well you’ll do in the Texas MBA Program.

This blog addresses your NON-Numbers. That is, who you are as a unique person, and how to tell us that story well. This story can go a long way in convincing us that a so-so GMAT or GPA is nothing to worry about in the long run, because you have a clear sense of who you are and what you are capable of. Although, many of you might find presenting this part of your application the most difficult of all.

Let us give you an example. Say you have a 700 GMAT and a 3.8 GPA. Congratulations! Go you! So, you write an essay that is very straightforward. You want to take this class, have this internship, and ultimately end up working at so-and-so company. We can learn a lot about you based on your work history and your academic and career trajectory. But, let’s face it, a lot of people want to take that class, have that internship, and work there. And frankly, a lot of people have a 700 GMAT and 3.8 GPA.

You may ask: What will make me stand out so that I get a spot at McCombs over another applicant with the exact same numbers?

There is no single answer to this question, but here are some tips to help you get started:

1) It helps to conduct an exercise that creates a personal profile. List your work experience, your education, your academic and career goals, and where you ultimately want to see yourself in 10 years. Then, list your personal interests: like writing, traveling, helping with charities, making films, teaching yoga, investing money, sailing, scaling ridiculously high mountains for no reason but to see the view, and/or eating, to name a few.

2) Next, start to connect the dots. What about the various elements of your past, present, and future intersect? Does your drive to reach CEO status have anything to do with your mountain climbing? Does your love of food and travel have anything to do with your unique capabilities to work in diverse team settings and to find accord among very different people? Does your history as a writer impact your ability to draft great marketing communications? Though there are many, (many people love to eat, climb mountains, work in marketing and thrive in diverse settings) it is the particular combination of YOUR interests, history and path that make up your unique story. It is how YOU tell this story that makes all the difference in how we view you as a potential MBA candidate.

If it helps, think about it from an admissions officer’s perspective. Our goal is to find a collection of highly capable people that will not only succeed in this environment (as evidenced by things like GPA, GMAT, work experience and education) but who also contribute something to our community. We want to know who you are as a person. And if we can see you as a person, then we can picture you in our school, interacting with all of the other diverse students, and contributing your individuality to the overall uniqueness of our amazing institution.

Basic case in point: Convince us that you are not only capable, but that you are special and that we will be lacking something without your presence.

So, if you sights are set on McCombs for your getting your MBA, remember that there are multiple human beings on the other end of your application reading your story, looking beyond the numbers. Convey to us your passion and what makes you unique. We are excited to learn more about you! (The NON-Numeric you.)

Texas MBA 2015-2016 Essay Questions: Admissions Guide to Introspection

From Julia Campbell, Associate Director of MBA Admissions, Full-Time Texas MBA Program:

As you think about how to approach the essays in your MBA application, consider appropriate mental theme music. Unfortunately for most, a fitting score might be the one from “Jaws”; ominous, foreboding and downright intimidating. But maybe for you it’s less scary, a bit more uplifting, full of hope, something like “Chariots of Fire” perhaps? Let’s hope. In any case, your best shot at writing strong essays is to approach them armed with insider tips from the Admissions Committee.

We read hundreds of essays. Thousands. The purpose of these essay questions is to understand 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. We only have two short essay questions and while it may be tempting, avoid the snooze-fest/shock-factor extremes, do us (and yourself) a favor and think hard about these answers.  Heed our advice below and tackle it while “Don’t Stop Believing” plays in the background:

ESSAY 1

  1. At The University of Texas at Austin, what starts here changes the world.  You are at the Texas MBA Orientation for the Class of 2018, meeting your cohort for the first time. Please introduce yourself to your new classmates, including relevant information about 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 about.me profile

AO Advice:

You are going to need to role play a little bit. Close your eyes. Imagine you are standing in front of your new Texas MBA Class of 2018 classmates introducing yourself. You will be placed into one of four cohorts, a group of 65-70 classmates that will be your family during the core curriculum. What would you say if you only have 250 words or one-minute? First impressions are important in person and are equally important in an admissions application.

A few key things to make sure you include are a greeting or introduction, your current profession or professional identity, goals for the future, how McCombs fits in and some personal anecdotes. We want the full picture, but in a nutshell.

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, about.me page, or video.  We have seen significant success in each platform.  Therefore, play to your strengths.  If your skill is in writing, focus on the essay.  If you have a knack for creative flare, color, design and photos, then have fun with an about.me profile.  If you want to create a video and rely on your voice and video editing skills, then we are excited to see it.  In any submission, have fun with it and do not take this essay for granted—it can go a long way to setting the stage for your application as your introduction.

ESSAY 2

The McCombs School of Business is where leadership is earned.  We have an inclusive environment where our dynamic and driven students take an active role in the Texas MBA community.  Please discuss why the Texas MBA is the ideal program for you, what you hope to achieve, and how you will contribute to your classmates’ experience. (500 words)

AO Advice:

Love McCombs? Prove it. This is your chance to convey your passion, excitement, personality, and experience, while also addressing how that experience relates to your MBA and career goals.  By the time we read your essays, we have already seen your resume, scores and basic elements of your application.  In this answer, we need you to expand upon the bare facts, and convey to us why you are the perfect student for McCombs.

This is a dense question, lots of content. The key will be to make sure you address each section of the question individually and within the tight limit of 500 words. Below is a dissection of each part of the question to help you craft a complete answer:

  • “… why the Texas MBA is the ideal program for you…”: Focus here on the words Texas MBA and you.  A vague essay is a poor essay, so give us specifics. Meditate on “how do I love McCombs, let me count the ways”, because if you’ve read our website or spoken to an admissions team member, frankly there is a LOT to love; classes, concentrations, organizations, students/alumni, professors, unique academic and career-oriented opportunities, the list goes on. So before you write your essay, I recommend you write a list of your top reasons why McCombs is total MBA perfection.  Then, make sure these specifics are mentioned to illustrate your dedication to our program. What’s the consequence of saying vague things like McCombs is “amazing” and “a great program”? First, we may question your familiarity with our school, or worse we may assume you just reused the same generic essay you used for another MBA program – yikes.
  • “… what you hope to achieve…”:  The primary difference between this portion of the prompt and the previous section is that we are asking you to clearly connect how McCombs will help you achieve your career objectives and personal goals.  Create a 5 and 10 year plan for yourself, then see what classes, organizations, and experiential opportunities that we offer specifically relate to this career plan.   Then connect the dots for us.  Essentially, we want to know what you want and how McCombs will help you get it.
  • “… how you will contribute to your classmates’ experience …”: Lastly, as you are mapping out your reasons for attending our program, also remember that we pride ourselves first and foremost on our collaborative, diverse and extremely tight-knit 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?  How will you give back while you are here? How can you leverage our program offerings and combine it with your skill set to propel the entire program forward. Convince us that you are indispensable to our community, and that we simply cannot live without you.

Last bit of advice. Return to classic writing techniques, a strong essay structure, grammar, punctuation, spelling and cadence.  A few common essay writing pitfalls to avoid include 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 FROM OTHER SCHOOLS!  We can totally tell.

As always, please email us at TexasMBA@mccombs.utexas.edu 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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