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Well regarded in the rankings and in the hearts of applicants everywhere, Harvard's GSD inaugurates our new series of top Architecture Graduate programs.

By Ben Feuer


•  Ranked #1 overall and #1 in design in DesignIntelligence’s 2014 top architectural program rankings.

•  History.  The world’s oldest landscape architecture program (1893) and urban planning program (1900) are both Harvard.

•  Strong focus on design and theory

•  Experiential learning opportunities and recruiting visits from top firms.

•  Programs and initiatives including a Joint Center for housing studies, a program for Islamic architecture, and nine labs.


Start by filling out an inquiry form.  It’s a great way to introduce yourself to the program and formally announce your interest.

The application will be available in the fall.   Deadline to apply is December 15, 2014.

Submitting through the online system is required. Applicants may not send application materials to the GSD through the mail.

You must submit transcripts, GRE, and three letters of recommendation.  For international students, TOEFL is required.  All programs except M.UP require a portfolio. 

Students may concurrently pursue two degrees offered by the GSD. Often concurrent degrees are completed with two of our professional degree programs (MArch I, MLA I, MUP). If you apply to more than one program, you will need to submit a separate application fee and form for each program and must be admitted into each degree program independently.

An applicant may apply a maximum of three times to the same GSD degree program.

The GSD does not accept transfer credits for work completed at another institution.

For more information, check out the GSD’s website or contact us via the links above.

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Booth's new interest in raising the percentage of alumni who give back, and the amount they give, can influence your admissions decision.

By Ben Feuer

A new initiative from Chicago Booth seeks to identify students who are likely to be successful -- and loyal -- in the future by conducting surveys and analyzing key characteristics of popular students on campus.  If this sounds mildly absurd to you, well, it does to us as well.  If there was a magic bullet predictor of career success, and it could be found in a simple poll, it would have happened a long, long time ago.

More interesting is Booth's REASON for doing this.  In the 2011-12 school year, after the portion of alums who donated to Booth slipped to 16.8 percent, Booth began a number of new initiatives to boost alumni donations, and this was one of them.  The number the following year was back up at 18.6 percent, but the reasoning remains the same.  Clearly, Booth is trying to attract loyal students with a successful financial future ahead of them, and clearly, they are factoring this into their admissions decisions this year.

Does that mean you should make loyalty your watchword in writing the essays?  Not if it wasn't already.  But if you consider loyalty one of your primary virtues, and if you have a history of donating to institutions you've been a part of, this would be a great application to mention those things.

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On the other end of the spectrum from yesterday's post, a supreme court justice overreacts to US News Rankings.

By Ben Feuer

This is old news, but worth highlighting as a counterpoint to yesterday's post about MBA rankings.  Law School rankings, although still very problematic, are an excellent predictor of employability and salary, at least according to some sources.  But justice Alito had some hard words for US News's rankings, calling them an 'abomination' and claiming that the legal community would be better off if they were eliminated.

Here is a list of Alito's clerks in the last four years.

Yale, Yale, Yale, Yale  #1
Stanford, Stanford #3
UVA #8
Duke, Duke, Duke #10
Cornell #13 (tie)
Georgetown #13 (tie)
Texas #15
George Washington #20
Notre Dame #26
Seton Hall #68

A couple points to make about that list.

1.  Yale, the #1 ranked law school, accounted for a quarter of all clerks.
2.  Top ten schools accounted for more than half of all clerks.
3.  One clerk from outside the T50 schools made it as a clerk ... 5 years out of school.

We here at Forster-Thomas hate to point fingers, but if Justice Alito wants to make a case for ignoring law school rankings, he could start by doing that with his own clerks.  And if you are applying to law school, rankings do matter ... although probably not as much as you think they do.

Don't be shy! Schedule a consultation to find out how we can help you.

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In this panicked season of candidates praying for admissions gold, it's a great time to reflect that, after all, an MBA isn't everything.

By Ben Feuer

Ok, I'm being a bit tongue in cheek (more than a bit?).  I know if you are reading this blog post, you probably already have your heart set on Stanford, HBS or bust.  And you know what?  More power to you.  That's a great dream, and those are great schools with lots of top notch opportunities should you attend one of them.

But there's more to life than a brand name on your resume, and so Forster-Thomas is taking a few minutes out of its day to present the counter-argument ... why a name-brand MBA might NOT be exactly what you need at this juncture.

1.  Many successful CEOs don't have one.  Consider this US News article -- of the top Fortune 100 companies, less than half of the CEOs had an MBA, and only HBS and Wharton were disproportionately represented on the list (8 and 4, respectively).

2.  Recruiters often have their own sets of concerns.  As this article from Business Insider reminds us, top recruiters have their own concerns which sometimes overlap with the concerns of b-schools, and sometimes don't.  They value work experience very highly, and see the value of going back to school as more contemplative, useful for certain types of work (and for networking).  Background discipline matters enormously.  Furthermore, they have their own opinions of what schools are really great, ranging from Kelley to McCombs to Darden.

3.  Startup CEOs often skip the MBA stage.  Since they start young and tend to focus on tech, many (but not all!) startup CEOs don't bother with an MBA.  As this rather vitriolic Fortune article reiterates, startups are about the product rather than the management know-how.

So are you convinced?  Going to give it all up and start an emu farm in Topeka?  Or a cozy corner-store bakery, perhaps?  No?  That's OK.  For investment banking, management consulting, private equity, venture capital, entrepreneurship, and a hundred other opportunities, a name-brand B-school is still a great way to go.

Don't be shy! Schedule a consultation to find out how we can help you.

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By Ben Feuer

Businessweek reports that top B-schools like Fuqua are now using analytics to track applicants' interest in the program, taking note of things like how many times you email admissions, whether you perform a campus visit or not, and the like.  They're doing this because of yield -- long story short, the school wants to know that if you are admitted, you will attend, and they feel this is a good way of determining that.

This is a great opportunity to set yourself apart from other applicants with minimal effort -- just researching the school and following up your application status alone will demonstrate a higher level of interest than many people do, especially in the next few years, before it becomes common knowledge that this software exists.  Other schools can track whether alumni interviews and program information have been requested, so that all counts as well.

Even if this software didn't exist, reaching out to your target school would still be a great idea.  It helps determine fit, and gives you a chance to get a foothold in the campus community by talking to alumni and current students.  So what are you waiting for?  Go out there and start knocking on doors!


Don't be shy! Schedule a consultation to find out how we can help you.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

College: A Bargain Hunter's Approach

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More and more college students are seeking the best deal as well as the best degree.

By Ben Feuer

The Chronicle of Higher Education's article discussing flat tuition revenue at many colleges highlights an interesting trend in college admissions overall; namely, college students and their parents are becoming bargain hunters, and schools are having to come up with inventive new ways to attract students.  The article highlights a few of these trends, including small private colleges discounting tuition to be more competitive with students who are admitted to large state schools, and discounts for junior transfers.

This may not be great news for every school, but it is great news for college students.  The more research you perform, the more schools you apply to (and are accepted to), the stronger your bargaining position.  You are doing yourself a disservice, in this day and age, if you are NOT talking to enrollment officers at your target schools and seeing what kind of arrangements they can offer for your son/daughter/self.

So if you (or someone you know) is looking to apply to college sometime in the near future, don't simply be content to pay the 'sticker price'.  Find a balance that works for your education as well as your pocketbook.


Don't be shy! Schedule a consultation to find out how we can help you.

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It's a red letter day at the FT offices -- new essays and deadlines have been released!

By Ben Feuer

Our essay guide was just updated with four new schools -- NYU Stern, UVA Darden, U. Michigan Ross, and UNC Kenan-Flagler.  Check out the prompts and deadlines at the following links!


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An article raises key questions about where MBA essay prompts have been, and where they are headed.

By Ben Feuer

Bloomberg Businessweek has a fantastic article today about why certain questions have survived in the process, and why others change every year.  The whole article is worth a careful read if you are planning to apply to business school this year, but here are a few of the highlights.

1.  If a question stays every year -- it's because the school likes the question.  Obvious?  Perhaps.  But Booth's Powerpoint essay, or Kellogg's new video essay, or Stanford's What Matters Most essay have become synonymous with the schools themselves.  Admissions officers believe (correctly!) that if you cannot figure out a way to answer these questions, these schools are not right for you.  And conversely, if you have a great answer to these questions, you might just be a great fit at these schools ...

2.  Authenticity is the goal.  All MBA candidates want to 'force' a fit between themselves and their target school.  It's only natural -- you want them, so you want to make them want you.  As anyone who has frequented eHarmony can tell you, life doesn't work that way -- but if you put yourself out there, you just might get lucky!  Safe, rote and formula responses are a recipe for rejection, as these admissions officers are eager to remind you -- it's part of why they shake up the questions each year.

3.  Video's relevance is on the rise.  It's a teleconferencing age, and b-schools are recognizing that.  Yale and Kellogg both have video components to their applications this year, and FT's crystal ball predicts this trend will spread.  Schools like the spontaneity of the video responses (and they like not having to read another essay).

Don't be shy! Schedule a consultation to find out how we can help you.

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What's new in the world today?  How about a kitchen appliance for vitamins, bioprinted leather and a global exchange for Bitcoin?

By Ben Feuer

One of the many fabulous services we here at Forster Thomas like to provide is an occasional snapshot of the innovation landscape -- a few carefully chosen examples to highlight the diversity and sophistication of global thought.  Why do we do this?  To push you to think beyond a conventional, one size fits all goal, and start thinking about how you can have a real and meaningful impact on the world around you.

Our first innovation of the day comes from a well-established company, Nestle.  Simply put, they want to make the replicator real -- but they're starting a bit smaller than that, focusing instead on nutrition.  Nestle contends that most people are deficient in at least one of the 30 nutrients the human body requires and cannot produce, and is building a prototype gadget for your kitchen that would build your own nutritional supplement.  So what about replicated hamburgers?  Nestle says that's at least ten years away still.

A rather fancifully named startup, Modern Meadow, raised a big chunk of change on its idea of using vat-grown leather for clothing.  Eco friendly and stylish!  This one is a few years away as well, but provides an insight into how more and more startups have a physical (real-world) component to them -- after all, there is a limit to how many internet apps one person can really use.

This Forbes article about one of Europe's most popular Bitcoin exchanges is particularly intriguing because of its founders, a couple of 20something Slovenians named Kodrič and Merlak.  The young, delocalized nature of modern entrepreneurship was never more evident than now, with these two fast on their way to being the richest Slovenians around (except that they are actually relocating their company to London).

So if you are writing your essays now (and you better be!), keep your mind open to exciting new possibilities.  The world is evolving more rapidly than ever before, and you get a front row seat!


Don't be shy! Schedule a consultation to find out how we can help you.

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Forster-Thomas's first monthly meeting at our new location took place yesterday -- and some interesting insights came out of it.

Ben Feuer

Company-wide meetings here at Forster-Thomas are a casual affair.  Fine wine is served, we dress to impress, we dine beneath the stars and talk long into the night about our fabulous selves.  

So what's new in Forster-Thomas land?  Turns out, lots!  Auntie Evan and Uncle David continue to break new ground with Essay Busters and Job Talk Daily, to say nothing of their work right here at Forster-Thomas.  Our very own Tom Locke is simultaneously developing a new television series with a Hollywood producer and a new audition coaching initiative for acting students in need of aid.  Kirsten Guenther just won a Rockefeller Grant while continuing to help medical school applicants get in touch with their inner Grey's Anatomy.  Jani Moon launched a website and a Google Hangout TV series.  Aimee Barr conducted a sold out conference for MSW graduates.  Susan Clark created a volunteer art mural in Italy!  Katie Kennedy is hard at work with Evan on his next book!  And of course, no Forster-Thomas meeting would be complete without honoring the glue that holds the entire organization together, Roberto Pineda and Nallely Rosales!

So everybody's doing awesome -- awesome!  What does this mean for those of you who are busy struggling with your essays?  Get to the good stuff, I hear you cry!  All right!  No need to be so pushy!

The first point was made by our very own Uncle David, and it concerns brainstorming.  I tell my candidates to brainstorm all the time, because I consider it an exceptionally helpful way to break out of mental ruts and develop your best ideas.  Well, Uncle David mentioned this gem and I had to pass it on to all of you.

"When brainstorming, most people think their job is to come up with 3 or 4 good ideas.  But that's not how brainstorming really works.  In fact, it goes like this.  First you get some good ideas.  Then you get some OK ideas.  By the time you're on your fifteenth idea, you know you're running on fumes.  And then something magical happens, and by PUSHING THROUGH IT, your last three ideas are usually even better than the first five.  So never stop when the ideas are good -- instead, push on until they're bad, then push through the badness so you can get to the greatness!"

Well said, sir.

I also had a few humble thoughts of my own for all of you stuck in the early stages of drafting your essays.  Google Ventures has taken to using timers to inspire its entrepreneurs/children to get over their perfectionism and innate long-windedness.  I think timers are an excellent tool for anyone trying to be creative, because constraints are empowering.  So if you are struggling to draft an essay, constrain yourself to an hour (or half an hour) to write it.  You might be surprised at how imperfect, and how interesting, the results can be!

Meanwhile, we here in Forster-Thomas land send you lots of love and best of luck for the upcoming application season!