Tag: application tips (page 1 of 3)

Tips & Tricks For Submitting Your Texas MBA Application

Even after reviewing the Texas MBA Admissions Process online, there’s always a special situation or further questions you might need answered as you submit your responses, so…

Here are the Texas MBA Admissions Team’s Top 5 FAQ topics:

Application FAQs

1. Texas Residency Status – Everyone who applies to an MBA program is classified as a non-resident until s/he is admitted, accepts the offer, and completes the Texas Residency Questionnaire. Rest easy, even though your status may look incorrect – if you were born and bred here, you’ll surely have a chance to prove it later on.

2. How & What to Submit for Transcripts – We get all sorts of questions on all sorts transcripts, from foreign language transcripts to study abroad transcripts, and from old transcripts to web downloaded transcripts. Here’s how to deal with transcripts:

  • Order official transcripts from any university or college you attended EXCEPT junior or technical colleges. If your transcripts are in a foreign language, they must be translated into English.
  • Scan and upload these to your McCombs Application online.
  • Pay your Application Fee.
  • Scan and upload transcripts to the Graduate and International Admissions Center (GIAC).
  • Put your official transcripts in safe-keeping. If you’re offered admission and intend to enroll, you’ll send your officials to GIAC.

3. Letter of Recommendation – This is also a common question, and since you’re not in complete control of this aspect of your application, you may just need assurance of what you can control. Here at the Texas MBA Program, we require one professional letter of recommendation from a person who has supervised your work and/or has assessed your performance during your career. Letters of recommendation are received directly from the recommender via a secure portal. While completing your application, you will be able to send your recommender an invitation to access this secure portal to submit their recommendation. Once your letter of recommendation is received, you will receive an automated email.

A couple helpful hints:

  • Complete this part of your application first. This will launch email notifications to your recommenders and allow them to get started on the form while you’re working on the other components of your application.
  • Contact your recommenders ASAP to let them know they should receive an email as soon as you save the section. Sometimes these emails end up in a junk folder since they come from a generic Texas MBA email address.
  • Monitor the status of your recommendations on your McCombs application status page to ensure they’re completed within a reasonable amount of time and by the deadline. You can resend notifications from within the application as needed.

4. Test Scores – As long as you’ve taken the test and have made the request to have your official scores sent to UT Austin by the round deadline, your application will be considered “on time.” During the admissions process, we sync what you reported in the application with what’s received by UT Austin. It can take several weeks for your official score to be received by the university, and the one-stop status check in your application marks this item complete once it arrives.

If you’ve decided to retake the exam after you’ve submitted your application, please notify the appropriate program as soon as you have your score. Please note there is no guarantee that your updated test score(s) will be considered in the evaluation of your candidacy, as this depends on when the McCombs Admissions Committee receives the update from you. Again, it’ll take several weeks for the official score to reach UT Austin, but be sure you’ve made the request to have the updated score sent.

If you’re applying to multiple programs at McCombs, you don’t need to send separate scores to each program. UT Austin has a central repository for official scores that all departments can access.

5. Application Fee – You will not be able to pay the application fee for about two business days after you hit the submit button, depending on when you submit your application. Your application is considered “on time” if submitted by the deadline, regardless if the fee is paid on that date. However, your application will not be evaluated if you do not pay the fee once it’s due. For information about where to pay the fee, and application fee waivers for select applicants, please review the Application Fee section on the Admissions Process page of our website.

Feel free to reach out to us if you have any further questions!

Hook ‘em!

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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.)

The MBA Admissions Interview: How to Totally Crush It

We’ve all been there.  Despite all the preparations, research and rehearsals, you find yourself nervous about your MBA Admissions interview.  While this isn’t technically a job interview, you may do well to treat it like one.  An MBA Admissions interview is a very important part of your overall application and ultimately one of the first steps towards your post-MBA life.

At the Texas MBA program, interviews are by invitation only and can come at any time during the application Round.  While some applicants may look forward to the opportunity to interview, others may not exactly enjoy the anxiety thereby engendered. If you are a member of the latter group, look at it this way: the interview affords one of the only formal opportunities for official face-to-face interaction during the application process, so here are a few ways you can take advantage:

  1. 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 parking before.
  2. “What was the question again?”:  You’d be surprised how many times at the end of an applicant’s long-winded 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.
  3. 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 tooooo comfortable, though.  While we’re an easy-going bunch, maintaining an appropriate level of professionalism is always a good idea.
  4. 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”.
  5. Know your audience: If you are invited to interview for the Texas MBA program, you have three options: On-Campus with an Admissions Officer or current student, Off-Campus with alumni or Admissions Officer in select cities, or via Skype with an Admissions Officer or current student.  Remember the Admissions Committee doesn’t have a preference for how or who you interview with, just as long as you prepare depending on your audience.
  6. Come with questions: A good list of questions can illustrate a few key things about a candidate: you’ve done your research, you care about our program, you have envisioned yourself as an MBA and you can formulate thoughts under pressure.  Don’t overdo it, though.  We usually leave anywhere from 10-15 minutes for questions, so limit your list to 2-3 good ones maximum and have a few backups.

While our interviewing style is admittedly less intense than corporate recruiters and some other MBA programs, don’t let our laid-back 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!

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. 

Managing Your 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 TexasMBA@mccombs.utexas.edu or 512-471-7698 for questions or advice on your application.  Happy Applying!

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