Monday, December 19, 2016

How to edit your essay



Article by Ben Feuer, photo by Susan Fitzgerald

So after an exhaustive and exhausting effort, you've finally completed all of your first drafts. Great news!  Now the real fun begins -- editing!  Many people don't realize that editing and rewriting is, in fact, the most demanding and time-consuming part of the writing process. It's the stage where you refine your initial ideas, make them easier to understand, and get rid of everything that's superfluous or confusing. While it's impossible to boil all of our expertise down to a page and a half, here are a few of our top tips on the topic.

Think like a reporter. Before a reporter begins to write the details of his story, he makes sure to clearly establish all the facts. Since you are, in essence, the reporter of your life story when you write an essay, you have to make sure that whoever is reading it is properly equipped to make sense, not just of what the story is, but of why you're telling it.  It might feel didactic to you, writing down dates, names of important characters, and laying out your themes in plain language at the start of the essay, but it will make it easier on everyone in the long run, and clarifying is an important part of the editing process.

Know what to cut. How can you decide what is essential to your story, and what isn't?  Refer back to the basic facts of your story, and the reason you're telling it. For example, if you're trying to make a point about how your relationship with your father has evolved over the years, details of your work performance, however intriguing, just don't fit. On the other hand, if the prompt you're answering demands details of a time you were an outstanding leader, maybe don't focus so much on details about the organization or why you decided to take on this opportunity in the first place. Effective editing is making the core story stand out!

Read your work aloud. One of the best pieces of advice you'll ever get (and one you're very unlikely to follow) is the tip that you can always catch several mistakes in your work if you read it out loud before sending it to anyone. People are reluctant to do this for many reasons -- they feel awkward, it seems slow and inefficient. But it's still the best and most reliable way to make certain you're submitting something error-free.

Stick to the word count. People often think that if they throw in just a little bit extra, they'll be improving their essay. Not so!  When you have to read a hundred of them in a row, you're always looking for excuses to get rid of a few applications quickly, and failing to follow the rules is an easy one. On the other hand, if you're UNDER the word count, that's fine, as long as you're fully answering the question.

Ask for help. It's nearly impossible to be your own editor. Get a trusted collaborator to help go over it with you at least a couple of times. Otherwise, you'll never be fully confident that your message is coming across clearly and without mistakes!

Need more advice?  Reach out to us and we'll be happy to help.  In the meantime, happy revising and good luck with your applications!

Thursday, December 01, 2016

The Entrepreneur's Guide to MBA Applications



Article by Ben Feuer, photo by The Stoe

Entrepreneurship is a growing sector of business worldwide, and many entrepreneurs are looking at MBAs, eMBAs, or other high-level masters degrees to help round out their skill sets, meet new people and encounter new opportunities. These applicants face a unique set of challenges, but also bring a unique set of strengths. In this guide, we'll deliver all the essentials, covering how to stand out.


Areas you're likely to be strong.


1. Hands-on leadership. As an entrepreneur, you've likely had two or more direct reports, overseen budgets and dealt effectively with vendors and lawyers, all strengths the investment banking crowd can't usually claim.  Use these hands-on experiences in your essays and talk to your recommenders about highlighting them as well. But don't just say that you were a leader, say what kind of a leader you were. Be descriptive and make helpful distinctions for b-schools so they can separate you from the pack.

2. Crisis Management. You've probably faced some seriously hair-raising situations where your entire business was put at risk, and come out of them the other side. These make great stories for your essays, but only if you know how to put them in the proper context. It's not enough to simply explain what happened -- you have to help us re-live the experience with you, and walk us through your decision process as a leader, almost like a case study.

3. Visionary goal-setting.  The most exciting thing about entrepreneurs is their capacity to dream big. So don't come to the table simply saying, "I'd like to be a management consultant," even if you do want to be one!  Find a visionary, exciting, empowering way to look at this career change. You're an entrepreneur, a maker, a trend-setter -- don't just be 'another X', be the first, smartest, or best XY.


Areas you're likely to be weak.



1. Volunteering, extracurriculars and non-profit work. Entrepreneurs are often busy, and are usually too focused on succeeding in their business to worry about backup plans. So when their first idea doesn't pan out and an MBA starts to look more attractive, they haven't done all the groundwork b-schools like to see as far as service and community engagement go. If you're in this boat, you have to start engaging with organizations immediately. Look for places where you can offer meaningful skills and help on a high level -- the usual one-off events, mentoring and tutoring are only slight improvements over having nothing at all. Can you fundraise, work on strategy, or develop deeper relationships with streams of volunteers or key donors?

2. International exposure. Diversity is a key element of the mix these days at top business schools, and international diversity is a very important factor in class balance. A student without meaningful foreign exposure risks seeming uncompetitive in today's market. Applicants with time to develop their candidacies should look into forging new relationships abroad, exploring business opportunities or collaborations overseas, or simply take a foreign language immersion course or an extended service trip for a month or two.

3. Comfort discussing failure. Since most entrepreneurs applying to b-school are failed entrepreneurs (no shame, just saying), it's really important to be able to show that you have learned from your mistakes and found ways to bounce back, stronger than ever, in your next proposed venture.  Don't avoid your failure, don't apologize for it, and don't blame others for it. Instead, take a powerful, full-responsibility stance on what happened, and show how you have grown and rebounded after what was probably an emotionally draining experience.

If you bear in mind these basics and incorporate your own set of strengths and weaknesses, you'll be well on your way to success in the application game. But if you're more than a year out from your MBA application and looking for ways to make yourself a stronger candidate, contact us about our leadership action program, and we'll get an expert to help plan your next few pre-MBA career moves.

 

 

Article by Ben Feuer, Photo by Dineshraj Goomany

Wondering how much time you should be allotting to complete your application for higher education? Great question, random internet reader!  For your edification, we have prepared a handy-dandy flowchart! Follow this article from top to bottom to figure out exactly how much time you should be budgeting for your application to school.


WHAT TYPE OF PROGRAM ARE YOU APPLYING TO?
Medical School.  +9 weeks.
College. +8 weeks.
Portfolio-based school.  +6 weeks.
Business School. +5 weeks.
Law School.  +4 weeks.
All Others.  +4 weeks.

WILL YOU BE GETTING HELP?
Yes, amateur help. +1 week. It's a great idea to get feedback -- we recommend it -- but people are busy, and your application is not their priority. Expect to lose some time waiting on feedback. +2 weeks if it's your parents.
Yes, professional help.  -1 week.  Professional help saves you time by allowing you to prioritize certain aspects of your application and delegate other parts. However, it also adds complexity to the process and requires more redrafting, so you don't end up saving as much time as you might expect.

ARE YOU A GOOD WRITER?
Do you have a lot of experience writing? Are you filling out applications in your native language? If so, then this part won't slow you down. Break even. If you struggle with writing, tend to procrastinate, or aren't writing in your first language, +10-30%. Use your best judgment about how slow you are by comparing yourself to your peers in historical context (are you always the last to hand in papers?)

HAVE YOU DONE YOUR DUE DILIGENCE?
Yes. Congratulations, this won't slow you down.  Break even.
No. You'll need extra time to choose schools, visit campuses, speak to stakeholders, and familiarize yourself with your schools similarities and differences. +10% per application.

HAVE YOU CHOSEN AND PREPPED YOUR RECOMMENDERS?
Do you know who will be recommending you? Do they know they will be recommending you? Have you given them timelines, talking points and a current resume? If so, break even. If not, +1 week.

ARE YOU PLANNING ANY TRAVEL, VACATION OR AWAY TIME?
If so, add a day to your required time for every day you won't be working.

These numbers presume that you're doing other things at the same time, such as preparing for standardized tests, working or attending school. If you have nothing to do other than apply to school, reduce your final number by -25%.

Worried about your timing? Want to talk things through with someone? We're happy to help.

 

By Ben Feuer, photo by Kevin Dooley

It’s a truth that these days borders on a truism; you can’t get into a top-tier school without a top-tier application. That means having the right names and dates on your resume, having the right numbers in the right boxes, and most importantly of all, connecting with readers through the medium of your personal statement.

If you’re reading this article, you probably already have a sense of what an LL.M degree is and who it’s for. But just in case you’re some sort of zombie with a Google account, the LL.M is a degree for people with international legal training to become academically acquainted with America’s laws and systems. Some folks use it as a way to transition to the US legal market, and others use it as a way to gain prestige in their home countries and advance in their careers. Either way, it’s a useful set of letters to have in your pocket.

The personal statement (or statement of purpose, or personal essay, or whatever your institution of choice prefers to call it) is a bit different for LL.M students than it is for JD applicants (or, for that matter, the wide range of other degrees that call for one). Here are a few vitally important points for you to remember as you start writing.

This is an academic degree. Although many people see it as a professional degree, the LL.M is first and foremost an academic degree, particularly on the higher end. It’s important to emphasize which legal questions and subjects interest you, and to explore how you might advance your understanding of them at your target school. Academics value curiosity, intellectual engagement with the world and a willingness to ask questions, so make sure your essay highlights a few of these qualities.

Be conversational and tell a story. While you’re busy trying to sound smart, remember that all of this fabulous research and thinking you have done in the past and plan to do in the future has to fit into a larger narrative; who are you, and why is this the ideal moment for you to apply for an LL.M?  Far too often I see personal statement drafts that simply list a string of things that happened to you, expecting the reader to connect the emotional dots. Focus less on the what and more on the why of your history, and don’t feel enslaved by chronology – deal with incidents in whatever order best helps you tell your story.

Create a call to action, or engagement. Much like a marketing campaign, personal statements should invite the reader to join the writer on a journey to a specific destination, whether that’s a deeper understanding of a particular point of law or a platform from which to move the world. Once you know your goals and your trajectory, don’t neglect to explain why they matter, not just to you but to those around you. Give schools a reason to support you and they’ll happily do just that.

Still got questions? Of course you do! Fortunately, we’re just an email away, and we’re happy to help you better understand your next steps. Until we meet again, happy writing!


Tuesday, October 04, 2016

How to Research a School



How to Research a School
By Ben Feuer, Photo by tallchris

To gain entry to a top school these days, applicants and parents need to wear a lot of hats – scholar, change-maker, networker. One of the less-appreciated (but vitally important) hats is that of researcher. Across academic disciplines and continents, schools are turning to their full-length bedroom mirrors, striking a pose and whispering to candidates everywhere, “Tell me that you love me.”

The truth is, even though parents and students think of themselves as being in competition for the schools' affection, schools are also in competition with one another to snag the best students. And their preferred mode of salving their academic insecurities, apparently, is by having applicants write worshipful ‘why our school is the best’ essays. It's really not as crazy as it sounds, though, there are some good reasons for it. For one thing, it separates out those who are 'just tossing another on the pile' from those who are serious. And for another thing, schools know that if they make you research them, you just might fall in love with them unexpectedly. That's why somehow, even when essays get cut and word lengths shrink, this topic always seems to stick around.

It ain't because they're popular, we can tell you that much. School research essays drive candidates crazy, and many smart kids who cruise through every other stage of the process get stumped by this one. So we here at Forster-Thomas are taking a few minutes out of our busy schedules to get you up to speed on how to nail your school research.

***

Dig deep on a few topics. Most school specific essays are like aerial bombardments or spaghetti foodfights – throw stuff everywhere and hope something sticks.  But the great ones are like surgical scalpels, cutting to the heart of the inherent bond between the candidate and the school. The key question to ask yourself while researching is – Do I care about this aspect of the school?

Once you pull a list of three or four specific things you care about (for a list of possible research topics, check out our other blog on this subject), it’s time to do your deep dive. Figure out the relevant keywords and Google them in various combinations and iterations. Read the first 5-9 links that come up – news articles, Rate my Professor reviews, EventBrites and Meetups, student blogs, Linkedin profiles, what have you. When evaluating this kind of material, the question you need to ask yourself is -- Does this sound different, or better, than how it’s done at other schools? How? Then -- and this is a key step -- WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN. By efficiently combining and clearly referencing your sources now, you’ll be setting the stage for success later.

Think like a reporter. So now you have research. How do you put it to good use? Reporters don’t go into an article wondering what they’re going to learn. They already know most of the basic facts of the case before they set fingers to keyboard. In other words, they have a thesis, just like scientists and sufferers of college writing seminars. When they’re drawing on sources and pulling quotes, they’re filling in the gaps of a story they already know. On the other hand, most candidates approach conversations with adcoms, former students and professors with a nearly total blank slate, expecting their partner to fill them in on everything. Sorry, guys, but that’s not possible!  If you want a useful answer, you need to ask a useful question, which means you need to know what question to ask, which means you, too need a thesis as to why you're a good fit for your target school.

So write one out. Right now. In a sentence or two. It should be different for every school.

Good. Now that's done, you can start contacting your sources and filling in gaps.

Say you’re interested in the XYZ Club at RFD University. It would certainly be a great idea to talk to the former student who used to manage that club – but NOT until you’ve already Googled the club, checked out their Facebook page, studied the programs from their last three events, determined how large it is, how long it's been around, and a half-dozen other similar questions. That way, your conversation won’t consist of platitudes like “How did you like the club?”  You’ll be able to ask them “So last semester, who was it that got Bob Smith to come to campus? How was his talk? Did he recruit anyone out of the club last year? Whatever happened with that power struggle in the leadership where the club split two years ago?” When you then go to write the essay, you’ll be armed with quotes supporting a very specific thesis concerning where the club stands, what it does well, and how you can contribute to its further growth. Sound like too much work? For you, maybe. But the guy next to you is going to do it. And he's going to have a leg up on you. This part of the process is completely meritocratic -- you get out what you put in.

Show your sources. Name names of students and give class years IN THE ESSAY. Name the professors, classes, clubs and initiatives that interest you IN THE ESSAY. Reference the student blogs and websites you have read ... wait for it ... IN THE ESSAY. (Need a list of student blogs? We made one!)

Don’t self-censor early drafts. One mistake many applicants make is collecting a ton of research, throwing up their hands while trying to organize it all into a small word count, and then throwing it away and replacing it with one generic sentence they could have come up with before they ever applied!  This is where having a smart, thoughtful, patient reader comes in handy. Instead of trying to decide for yourself what sounds good, present the most comprehensive and strong argument you’ve got, and let someone else suggest where to trim.

The golden question. Wondering if you’ve gone deep enough on your research? This golden question will give you the answer. If I replaced the name of the school in ANY sentence of this essay with another school’s name, would the sentence still be true and make sense?  If the answer is YES, you need to do more research. If the answer is NO, you’ve done enough. Whether you’ve done it well is another matter.

Cohesion. Although you can’t treat a school-specific essay like a narrative essay (it doesn’t tell a story), you still need to consider whether the topics you’re discussing form a cohesive picture of how you’ll operate at the school. Are you really going to join the consulting club AND the finance club? Are you really going to be active with the East Asian students AND the Mambo club? Probably not, if you’re being honest with yourself. Your choices of what topics to discuss define where you’re looking to grow and how the schools can help you grow, so make choices that cohere.

***

Sound like a lot of work? It can be. But here’s the good news – there actually is a silver lining to this cloud. All that research you’re doing just might actually help you figure out which school you want to attend in real life! You might meet someone, or learn something, that opens up your mind to the wide and wild world beyond the US News Rankings. We could think of worse ways to spend an afternoon.


 

Article by Ben Feuer, photo by Paul Townsend

One of the hottest (and for many, one of the most terrifying) trends in college and graduate admissions is the sudden popularity of the diversity statement. Once it was a mere afterthought, of interest primarily to crunchy Berkeleyites and hippie whitebeards eager to preach what, back when they were applying, no one dreamed of practicing. Today, what could be more 2016, more solidly on trend and on fleek, than to flaunt the unique perspective of a Pacific Islander raised in a commune, or to recount the war stories of your first generation Laotian refugee parents?

Certainly, that’s how your friendly neighborhood elite university feels. Which is why you’re seeing more and more essay prompts like these –

Tell us about a time within the last two years when your background or perspective influenced your participation at work or school.

Short and to the point. Or how about this self-congratulatory tongue-twister of a prompt?

Fancypants University’s admission process is guided by the view that a student body that reflects the broad diversity of society contributes to the implementation of Fancypants’ mission, improves the learning process, and enriches the educational experience for all students. In reviewing applications, Fancypants considers, as one factor among many, how an applicant may contribute to the diversity of Fancypants based on the candidate’s experiences, achievements, background, and perspectives. This approach ensures the best and most relevant possible training and serves the profession by training to effectively serve an increasingly diverse society. You are invited to submit an essay that describes your particular life experiences with an emphasis on how the perspectives that you have acquired would contribute to the Fancypants intellectual community and enhance the diversity of the student body. Examples of topics include (but are not limited to): an experience of prejudice, bias, economic disadvantage, personal adversity, or other social hardship (perhaps stemming from one’s religious affiliation, disability, race, ethnicity, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity); experience as a first-generation college student; significant employment history (such as in business, military or law enforcement, or public service); experience as an immigrant or refugee; graduate study; or impressive leadership achievement (including college or community service).

So if you're that Laotian refugee, answering this prompt seems simple enough (although it isn't). But suppose you grew up white, straight and well-off in a middle-class suburb, where nothing of any particular consequence happened to you? You still have to write the essay. Clearly, this is a situation that calls for some high-level mental jujitsu.

Here’s the skinny. Instead of fixating on that terrifying word diversity, instead turn your head to take in its underappreciated companion, ‘perspective’. Actually, if you dig into that War and Peace of a prompt above, you’ll see that the school hands you some clues of possible topics, including military/employment history, disability or disease, and even impressive leadership achievement, although be hella careful with that last one.

Ultimately, a great diversity essay isn’t driven by some accident of birth. Don’t believe us? Try writing “Hey, I’m black” as your entire response and see how that goes for you. It’s driven by your response to the formative experiences that shaped you.

What was hard for you growing up? What took some adjustment to learn to live with? For one guy we worked with, it was being a rural kid in a big city school. For another girl, it was being an army brat, shuttling from base to base. For yet another, it was being way, way too into cooking.

Whatever the challenge was, first take some time to explore why and how it was hard. Paint a vivid verbal picture of what it was like the first time that mean old uncle of yours said ‘little boys don’t make souffles’. Show yourself struggling, being wrong, doing wrong, if that was how it went down. Adjustments take time, and they often don’t stick right away. And when (and if) you do talk about how you saved the day and fixed everything, please try to address what’s universal about your struggle. Try to relate your experience to that of others, and show the adcom how you’re prepared to use your experiences to contribute on campus, rather than siloing.

Got questions? Call. In the meantime, good luck, and happy writing!


Wednesday, September 07, 2016

A Guide to the Best Summer Filmmaking Programs



Article by Ben Feuer. Photo by Bob Bekian.

One of the questions parents of teens interested in film often ask is, what are the best summer camps to attend?  There’s no perfect answer, and each student’s experience will vary, but here are the details on some of the top programs out there. Please note — this list is not comprehensive, nor is it meant to be. This is a list of well-regarded, long-standing programs.  Also note that many of these programs are competitive, so a strong application will be necessary to get in.

NAME: NYFA
AGE: 10-17
DURATION: 1-6 WEEKS
LOCATION:     •    New York City, Los Angeles, CA, Harvard University, Paris, France, Walt Disney World® Resort, FL, South Beach, FL, Florence, Italy, Gold Coast, Australia, Sydney, Australia
TUITION: $1140 -> $7240
LINK: https://www.nyfa.edu/summer-camps/
DESCRIPTION: In all New York Film Academy film camps, each student writes, shoots, directs and edits his or her own films. Our film camps are designed for people with little or no experience in making films. The programs focus on the fundamental elements of visual storytelling that enable the students to direct their own projects. During NYFA’s teen film camps, each weekday is split between in-class instruction and on-set production. The below subjects are taught both in-class and on set, where students get to apply the lessons they learned in the classroom to a real film set.
REQUIREMENTS: Students must fill out an application.

NAME: CHAPMAN
AGE: 16-17
DURATION: 2 WEEKS
LOCATION: Orange, CA, Shenzen, China
TUITION: $3000 or 18000 RMB
LINK: http://www.chapman.edu/dodge/summer-programs/summer-film-academy/index.aspx
DESCRIPTION: For two weeks students are immersed in the world of film through class discussions, film screenings, guest speakers, field trips, and filmmaking in small groups. They live, breathe and eat filmmaking around the clock while being taught by Chapman faculty who are industry professionals and mentored by current Dodge College grad students and alumni. All of this will be shared with their peers as they work in groups to complete projects to create short digital, narrative projects which are showcased to parents and relatives on the final night of the program in our 500-seat Folino Theater.
REQUIREMENTS: Students must have a 3 or higher GPA, must send in an essay, letter of recommendation, resume and transcript. The program is competitive — about 35 percent of students get in.

NAME: DMA (DIGITAL MEDIA ACADEMY)
AGE: 6-17
DURATION: 1-2 WEEKS
LOCATION: Austin, TX, Bryn Mawr, George Washington University, Harvard University, McGill University, Northwestern University, St. Mary’s College, Stanford University, UCSD, U. British Columbia, Chicago, Pennsylvania, Toronto & Washington, Stony Brook, Houston, etc.
TUITION: $1200 -> $3200
LINK: https://www.digitalmediaacademy.org/course-finder/results?cf%5Bcategory_tag%5D%5B%5D=Filmmaking+%26+Visual+Effects&cf%5Bpage%5D=&cf%5Bsearch%5D=&cf%5B_token%5D=c25c67e0ee2c267aad636004c484ffb98ae8211c
DESCRIPTION: Founded in 2002 at Stanford University, DMA offers programs in a wide range of disciplines, teaching anything and everything from experiencing Indie Film Production firsthand, all the way to learning how to surf and make films at the same time!  The company’s vision is to be a diverse haven for excellent young filmmakers to hone their craft.

NAME: MAYSLES DOCUMENTARY CENTER
AGE: 7-17
DURATION: 6-10 WEEKS
LOCATION: New York, NY
TUITION: $0-$1000
LINK: http://maysles.org/mdc/education/
DESCRIPTION: The Maysles Documentary Center offers comprehensive, year-round documentary educational programming for filmmakers of all ages. This includes on-site production and media literacy programs for adults and young people, as well as school-based partnerships where our experienced teaching artists work with students to develop storytelling, film production, and community engagement skills. We have partnered with a range of high school schools throughout the city, and currently host six education programs at our documentary center in Harlem including our Filmmakers Collaborative for Adults producing course, our Teen Producers Academy for high school students, our Junior Filmmakers for youth ages 10 to 13, and a film club for ages 7 to 11. All programs are free or low-cost, with scholarships available for those with a fee.

NAME: UCLA
AGE: 20+
DURATION: 6-10 WEEKS
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
TUITION: $3500-$6400
LINK: http://www.summer.ucla.edu/institutes/FilmandTV
DESCRIPTION: The UCLA Film & Television Summer Institute gives students from across the country and around the globe an unparalleled opportunity to study filmmaking at one of the most prestigious film schools in the world.  The UCLA Film & Television Summer Institute shapes the filmmakers of tomorrow right in the heart of Los Angeles, the entertainment capital of the world.

NAME: UNC SCHOOL OF THE ARTS
AGE: 14+ (High school is separate from undergraduate and graduate)
DURATION: 8 WEEKS
LOCATION: North Carolina
TUITION: $4510
LINK: https://www.uncsa.edu/summer/film-summer-intensives/
DESCRIPTION: During the summer at Studio Village, UNCSA’s unique on-campus movie set, high school students and rising college freshmen immerse themselves for five weeks in the exciting world of narrative filmmaking. The conservatory’s dedication to developing the whole filmmaker extends to this comprehensive summer program. Students here will experience all elements of filmmaking first–hand: screenwriting, cinematography, directing, producing and digital editing.

NAME: EMERSON
AGE: 15-17
LOCATION: Boston, MA
DURATION: 5 WEEKS
LINK: http://www.emerson.edu/academics/pre-college
TUITION: $4306-$9099
DESCRIPTION: Filmmakers Studio offers rising high school sophomores, juniors and seniors an opportunity to explore concepts and practices in film production. Applicants selected for the five-week program train in the art and technique of single-camera digital film production or 16mm film production.
Film production students gain extensive production experience including, but not limited to, creating story structure, cinematography, lighting, sound recording, and editing. Participants develop strong and practical story ideas, visualize those ideas in storyboards, and realize those ideas in short films. Rising juniors and seniors are welcome to apply to either the 16mm Film Production Track or the Single-Camera Digital Film Production Track. Rising sophomore applicants will be considered for admission to the Digital Film Production Track, only.  College credit offered in some programs.
REQUIREMENTS: Admission is selective. Students must apply via Slideroom with a portfolio and essay.

NAME: NYU TISCH
AGE: 16-17
LOCATION: New York, NY
DURATION: 4 WEEKS
TUITION: ~$9300
LINK: http://tisch.nyu.edu/special-programs/high-school-programs/filmmakers-workshop
DESCRIPTION: The curriculum for the Summer Filmmakers Workshop for High School Students, offered through the Kanbar Institute of Film and Television, is similar to that of the undergraduate degree program. It combines intensive professional training with a comprehensive understanding of the techniques and theories behind the art of film and video production. Prior experience in film or video is not required.
REQUIREMENTS: Admission is selective. Students must apply via Slideroom with a portfolio and essay.

NAME: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC STUDENT EXPEDITIONS
AGE: 14-17
DURATION: 12-18 DAYS
LOCATION: New Zealand, Switzerland, France, New Mexico, Arizona, Iceland, Alaska
TUITION: $5700-8600
LINK: http://ngstudentexpeditions.com/find-a-trip-results?destinations=mix&interests=film-video&age-group=mix
DESCRIPTION: National Geographic Student Expeditions are nine day to three week summer programs for high school students that blend hands-on learning and adventure. These unique programs are crafted to cater to each high school student's interests, including Film & Video. Students can choose to focus on filmmaking, working in production teams to document their journey and the people they meet while traveling. The expedition culminates in a final video project. Our Experts and trip leaders help students learn the art and craft of filmmaking, including using production cameras in the field, creating time lapses, capturing great GoPro footage, or even using their phones to craft short digital stories. A National Geographic expert joins each trip to lend an insider's perspective as students explore.

NAME: USC
AGE: 18+
DURATION: 6 WEEKS
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
TUITION: $1666 per credit
LINK: https://cinema.usc.edu/summer/
DESCRIPTION: Summer Program classes are taught by leading industry professionals during two separate six-week sessions. Spend time on our state of-the-art campus taking classes focused on feature filmmaking, editing, animation, writing, computer graphics, interactive game design, and the business of the industry, among many others. Besides having access to the School's unparalleled facilities and equipment, Summer Program students will have many unique opportunities. Several classes take place on major studio lots such as Warner Bros. and Walt Disney Studios.
REQUIREMENTS: Essay and application. The process is selective, not all students are accepted.

Have questions about the application process?  Want to let us know something we missed?  Contact us!



Article by Ben Feuer, Photo by University of Liverpool

More and more business schools are commissioning student blogs about the application process, going behind the scenes for competitions and clubs, and trying to expose what life on campus is really like for all those students unable to visit.  Because we’re awesome, we here at Forster-Thomas have compiled some links for you to make it easier to get first-person feedback on those programs you’re considering spending two years of your life (and a whole chunk of money) on.

Stanford GSB
https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/programs/mba/student-life
https://backinthebay2015.wordpress.com/
frompatotheworld.blogspot.com/
paloaltoforawhile.blogspot.com/

Harvard Business School
http://www.hbs.edu/mba/Pages/default.aspx

Chicago Booth
theboothexp.com/
http://blogs.chicagobooth.edu/blog/Booth_Insider/boothinsider?redirCnt=1&=
https://medium.com/mba-mama-blog/mba-mama-spotlight-louise-chang-of-chicago-booth-d8143303284a#.43vej9rlg

Columbia GSB
https://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/curl/
https://www.knewton.com/resources/blog/test-prep/mba-life-an-insiders-perspective-on-columbia-business-school/
http://www.businessinsider.com/what-its-like-to-be-a-student-at-columbia-business-school-2012-6
http://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/2011/11/28/columbia-business-school-through-the-eyes-of-four-current-students

Wharton
https://mba.wharton.upenn.edu/category/student-diaries/
http://blog.accepted.com/2014/07/18/reflections-of-a-wharton-student-and-commbond-intern/
http://www.businessinsider.com/student-life-at-wharton-business-school-2012-11

Dartmouth Tuck
http://www.tuck.dartmouth.edu/mba/blog
http://blog.accepted.com/2015/04/24/catching-up-with-dartmouth-tuck-student-dominic-yau/
http://poetsandquants.com/2012/07/15/a-tuck-coffee-chat-leaves-our-guest-blogger-a-believer/

Michigan Ross
http://michiganross.umich.edu/student-voices-blog
http://michiganross.umich.edu/ross-news-blog
http://blog.accepted.com/2011/12/09/michigan-ross-student-interview/

MIT Sloan
http://mitsloan.mit.edu/student-blogs/
http://mitsloan.mit.edu/mba/mit-sloan-community/student-profiles/
http://www.mba.com/us/the-gmat-blog-hub/student-video-bloggers/bloggers/julia-yoo.aspx

Northwestern Kellogg
https://kelloggmbastudents.wordpress.com/
http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/programs/executive-mba/emba-experience/blog.aspx
http://redwolf056.blogspot.com/
http://www.kelloggmbaclassof2011.com/

UC Berkeley Haas
http://blogs.haas.berkeley.edu/the-berkeley-mba
https://haasintheworld.wordpress.com/
http://rabbyatberkeley.blogspot.com/
http://calgradmba.blogspot.com/

NYU Stern
http://blogs.stern.nyu.edu/full-time-mba/
http://blogs.ft.com/mba-blog/author/victoriamichelotti/
http://blog.accepted.com/2012/01/13/nyu-stern-current-mba-student-interview/

Duke Fuqua
https://blogs.fuqua.duke.edu/duke-mba/
http://www.stevensma.com/
https://reachingthethirties.wordpress.com/

Yale SOM
http://som.yale.edu/programs/mba/blog
http://blog.iese.edu/mba/my-experiences-iese-yale/
http://mbaveggie.blogspot.com/2008/09/yale-som-visit.html

And by the way — this should be the beginning, not the end, of your research!  If you see a program or hear about an opportunity that sounds interesting, research it in more detail. See what else you’re able to turn up!




By Ben Feuer, photo by Roman Pfieffer

So you want to travel abroad in order to attend a top American or European business school?  Good for you.  There's just one little problem -- hundreds (or thousands, depending on your country of residence ... I'm looking at you, India!) of other people just as qualified as you are targeting those same exact seats. Fortunately, you have us on your side!  Check out this free three-step primer on how to prepare for your overseas MBA application.

1. Get clear on your goals and why you need a foreign MBA to pursue them.  Let's be honest -- although there are applicants who genuinely need the education a top school like HBS or Wharton can offer, there's also a lot of people who are just looking for prestige, a bigger network or a quick fix for a stalled career. If you fall into one of these latter categories, you have a problem, because no one in admissions wants to hear you whine about getting passed over for a promotion yet again. Fortunately, the trouble is mostly between your ears, and therefore, it's a relatively straightforward fix. Paying attention?  Good.

Past is prologue.

Got that? You are not defined by the four or five things that are currently frustrating you. You are the sum of the experiences, challenges and desires that have brought you to this point. Take a step back and look at your career from a higher vantage point. Where are you headed?  Is it somewhere exciting, inspirational? Who are you bringing along for the ride -- what troubled group out there are you preparing to serve?  It doesn't matter if you're a Private Equity quant jock or a burned-out prince of the non-profits in DC, the question is the same. What's next, and just how amazing is it going to be once it comes?

2. Know your role ... and your history. A good application to business school is an exercise in empathy -- you must put yourself in the admissions officer's shoes. She is trying to build a cohesive class. Where do you fit in? Look at your target schools. How many people like you did Stanford admit last year? What were they up to before arriving on campus?

Review your own work and travel history, both to figure out where you're the best fit, and what you have done that a top foreign school might find attractive.  Have you been the big fish in the small pond, changemaking like a boss?  Have you explored cultures and perspectives a top US or Euro MBA program might find intriguing?  What, and who, do you know that can help you to stand out?

3.  Shore up your fundamentals. Depending on exactly which country you are applying from, you may have an exceptionally competitive regional 'bucket' -- people from your area may only be able to claim seats when their fundamentals exceed even the usual lofty bar set by Booth, Kellogg and other top MBA programs. So make sure not to give them any reason to ding you on this account.  Your GMAT, GRE, and transcripts should be as strong as you can possibly make them. If your percentiles are lacking, study and retake. If you can't conquer one test, try the other. If you need more time and you're under 25, take a year to prepare. If your transcript and resume are thin on quantitative rigor, consider a one-year masters program.

So once you've done all that, what next?  Then, my friend, you are ready to take the plunge and begin planning your actual applications.  And that's when you should probably call us.


 
by Evan Forster

So you want to go to Columbia? You and everybody else. There are a ton of things you need to do amazingly well to have a shot. This is about perhaps the most important one – your essays. Don’t overcomplicate this advice, but don’t dismiss it either, after twenty-five years of a near-perfect success rate, believe me, I know of what I speak.

Essay #1: Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals going forward, and how will the Columbia GSB MBA help you achieve them? (100-750 words)

College is for finding yourself. Grad school is for people who know what they want. So don’t tell me you’re “not sure yet,” “thinking about it,” or “going to figure it out while I am there.” That means pretty much game over at a place like Columbia Business School, or any b-school for that matter. Think about it. All things being equal—your grades, scores and experience—the only aspect of your candidacy that says “I have a vision that you and your community want to be a part of” is that specific long term goal, something bigger, better and bolder.

So when Steve began to see b-school as more than a mere opportunity to gain some skillz, a resume bump and a better job, he drew that much closer to the gates. Steve, who was in a large real estate management and investment firm, realized that after three years of seeing possible development deals in Detroit glossed over in favor of a quick transactions, he wanted to help transform communities in his backyard through real estate.(Note the little bit of background about himself.) Basically, he saw the possibility of Brooklyn and London’s East End everywhere. And that’s what he wrote about—how CBS would take him from one small rehabbed building to Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill or Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan neighborhood springing up in 8 Mile. I’m not saying you have to create a tectonic plate shift on the planet, but you do have to at least be up something greater than yourself if you’re going to stand out.

So sit down and figure out what you want to do long term, and make sure it’s not just working at a hedge fund. (Sigh) Look into your life and see what’s missing –at work or at play—and consider what you could do to fix it. Give us the context of why you want to be a part of this change and how it relates to what you’ve done in the past. It can’t come out of nowhere. It has to make sense.

Then, figure out the short term stepping stone you need in order to walk across the river without falling in. In other words, you can’t just go from CBS to world domination. There’s a middle ground. In Steven’s case, it was a year long internship with an NYC real estate development corporation at the Hudson Yards project to hone his skills.

After that, you’ll need larger representation of how CBS is going to help you gain the skills and the community you need to get to where you want to go. I am talking big picture, with an academic focus such as Real Estate, Health Care or management. Maybe mention Columbia’s various institutes, like the Lange Center for Entrepreneurship, that will be of help to you. Then get specific about the skills you need in order to reach your short and long term goals. Some soft skills like decision-making, negotiation, assessment and/or team-based problem solving. Some hard skills like you’ve been in Marketing and PR now you need to understand DCF or discounted cash flow. Mention the type of classes—two or three that CBS has to offer and, and, of course, who do you want to study under? Don’t just drop names. Get specific about who you’re excited to meet—all in to order reach your goals.

Essay #2: Columbia Business School’s students participate in industry focused New York immersion seminars; in project based Master Classes; and in school year internships. Most importantly, they complete a questionnaire taught by a combination of distinguished research faculty and accomplished practitioners. How will you take advantage of being “at the very center of business”? (100-500 Words)

Yup, Columbia has changed this second question up again. This year its simple -- how is Columbia’s NYC location going to help you reach your long and short term goals? This time we are talking VERY SPECIFICALLY about courses, professors, speakers, externships, etc. that are at your fingertips because you’re in the hood. What resources does Columbia have, thanks to its NYC location that you need to achieve your goals, as stated in essay 1?

Remember, if they think you’re running the old “hallowed halls of academia game, then two things are possible in the minds of admissions officers: 1. You’re BSing and didn’t do your homework or 2. If you’ve got really great stats, story and experience, you might not show up. In other words, if you’ve got that 740 GMAT, killer resume, and a 4.0, you really need to SHOW Columbia that you know how its program is going to help you get to where you’re going.

Figure out exactly what you’re going to take and who you’re going to study with each semester. Envision your time there and then break it down for them—courses, professors, and internships. Who will you meet—from fashion to finance, real estate to the art? How will Master Classes Executives in Residence help you and why? Use this essay to drill down even more deeply into the curriculum. Explain how Columbia will give you all the resources and advantages you need to achieve your goals.

Essay #3: CBS Matters, a key element of the School’s culture, allows the people in your Cluster to learn more about you on a personal level. What will your Clustermates be pleasantly surprised to learn about you? (100-250 Words)

This is so, so simple. Why do so many people love to make this complicated? Look, they even boldfaced the most important word for you. Pleasant. You know, like grandma’s doilies or a Kenny Chesney single. Don’t you dare take that as carte blanche to send me something boring, I hate boring. But don’t try to show off, don’t try to prove what a gold-plated bad boy you are, and don’t waste your precious time and word count writing about people and things that aren’t you!

Pick a hobby, or a habit, or something you love, that you can nerd out about. Write about your favorite Game of Thrones character, or an ode to Cherry Coke, or Havana Cigars. Write about your love for backyard baseball, or teaching your cousins to ski on the bunny slope, or setting up free Wi-Fi for your home town. Should your story reflect well on you? Well, you shouldn’t come away looking like a dog! But gloating is not the point. The point is relating.

**

So that’s what’s up, kids! I really hope that after my master class, you don’t have any lingering questions. But just in case you do, feel free to call. Always happy to scream in your ear until you get clear!

Lovingly,

Auntie Evan