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To commemorate Businessweek’s 2014 ranking of the top undergraduate business programs, Forster Thomas is profiling the top ten.  At #9 this year is Emory’s Goizueta School. 

By Ben Feuer


Goizueta has been in the top ten for quite some time now, and it’s no surprise – with a strong ethical and practical bent, this is a great school to earn a BBA.

• Strong in social enterprise, with a dedicated center and 69% of students volunteering weekly

• High international enrollment of 25%

• Top feeder for Deloitte and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Financial Services

• Study abroad -- Goizueta BBAs may serve as interns in Linz, Austria; Bangkok, Thailand; or Kaohsiung, Taiwan

• Average salary upon graduation: $60, 357



There are no freshmen admitted to Goizueta.



To be considered for admission, applicants from Emory College must have attained 60 hours by the time of matriculation for regular admission, and 56 hours by the time of matriculation for early admission (second semester of sophomore year). AP/IB credit hours count towards this total.

Prerequisite classes include Calculus I)OR AP Calculus credit for either AB or BC Calculus (AB credit suffices), Business Economics (for Emory College students) OR Microeconomics OR AP Micro credit AND Macroeconomics OR AP Macro credit, Data and Decision Analytics OR AP Statistics credit Financial Accounting and One Continued Writing (CWR) course in the College. You must complete the majority of GERs. A 3.3 freshman/sophomore GPA or above is expected.


The Goizueta Business School's BBA program is designed for students who have spent one year or more at Emory or Oxford College, regardless of the number of credits earned or years spent at another institution. Prospective transfer students are encouraged to apply directly to Emory College, with the plan of spending two semesters at Emory before being eligible to apply and matriculate to the Goizueta Business School.


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MBAs and entrepreneurs do not have a monopoly on innovative leadership.  Here are a couple of worldwide initiatives to combat social issues.

By Ben Feuer

The Daily Mail has an interesting story today about China.  Apparently, the pollution problem in Beijing is becoming a serious public health crisis, and as one might expect from a state with a strong central government, top-down solutions are the order of the day.  China's pilot program in Lanzhou will use giant cannons to spray water into the air, soaking the pollution and dragging it down to Earth.

Pollution is a big problem, but the problem with China's solution is that it is complex and heavy handed -- the expense and difficulty of building giant water cannons mean that the solution's scale will be limited, and, more importantly, huge actions have huge consequences, usually unforeseen.  I really wish someone would mention that to the Beijing Weather Modification Office.

Italy is addressing a similarly intractable social problem, recidivism, by incentivizing literacy in prisons.  They are offering to shave up to 48 days off of an inmate's sentence if he reads up to 16 books in jail.  They argue that reading books keeps prisoners quiet and encourages self-reflection.

This is more of a small ball approach, much cheaper and more practical to implement on a wide scale if it is successful.  It is also a bottom up reform rather than top down; the prisoner must still choose to read the book if he wants to reap the benefits.  (Still, how are they going to prove he read it cover to cover -- make him take a quiz?)  The scope of its potential impact seems limited compared to pointing a fancy water cannon at the sky, but then again, many big things have small beginnings.

Either way, both initiatives are interesting models to consider for future MBAs or MPPs interested in creating change in their home country.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Make self-evaluation work for you

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Sarah Lawrence has a new evaluation rubric -- but it's not only useful for teachers.  You can use it to review your application.

By Ben Feuer
Sarah Lawrence, a liberal arts school whose primary distinction is being the most expensive school in the United States, has "invented", or at least revived, a system of evaluation that serves as an alternative to grades.  They have chosen six categories they feel cover the most important qualities a liberal arts education provides. 

 The good news is, these six categories aren’t just useful for assessing students currently in school — they’re also top qualities employers look for in employees and admissions committees look for in prospective students, and therefore, they are great things to think about when you are trying to distinguish yourself from a pool of candidates in (for instance) a school application.  So take a look over these six criteria and see whether you can find instances of them in your own life — then think about whether you can pull stories from that. 

1.  Thinking analytically.   This is the bread and butter of a liberal arts education — basically, it just means that you don't accept things at face value -- that you turn them over, examine them from a range of perspectives and (hopefully) come to inventive and informed decisions.  You can certainly demonstrate strength in this area by choosing stories that highlight this ability, but you can also show your ability to analyze yourself by explaining, in a clear headed and sensible manner, why you chose to pursue certain courses of action or make certain choices.  Essays about your favorite XYZ or a major dilemma you faced are great for this kind of thing. 

 2.  Communicating effectively in writing.  You can demonstrate this simply by writing your essays well and presenting strong, well thought out, persuasive arguments — but you can also look to your recommenders to bolster this aspect of your candidacy. 

 3.  Exchanging ideas effectively orally.  With the rise of video essays and the continuing importance of in-person interviews, your ability to confidently and persuasively make a case for yourself without being brash or overbearing (or fading into the furniture) is definitely worth a couple of practice sessions with a Forster Thomas interview coach. 

 4.  Bringing innovation in your work.  This has (fairly) obvious ramifications for talking about leadership, volunteering — it might play into peer recommenders as well (remember that these qualities may be qualities your peers see in you and can use to recommend you!).  Put simply, you have to first explain the situation, then the typical way it was addressed before you showed up, and then explain how you altered the pattern or broke the cycle.  And it doesn’t have to be a huge change like revolutionizing the way your internship office handled its workflow.  It can be about how you found a more effective way for your family to have Thanksgiving together too.  Innovation is innovation. 

 5.  Thinking independently.  When everybody went one way, I went the other.  That kind of action takes courage.  Again, this can be in the context of leadership, but it doesn’t have to be.  Sometimes simply expressing yourself — artistically, socially, intellecutally — constitutes independence, especially if no one else is speaking up.  Sometimes it’s going to bat for someone else, someone in trouble like a brother or a best friend, someone you care deeply about.  You may see their actions in a different light than everybody else does. 

 6.  Taking and acting upon criticism.  This is a natural fit for a failure or setback essay or prompt, but it can also work in the context of leadership, or even diversity.  The key is to understand that in order to make good use of criticism, you first have to hear it in a useful way, and then figure out how to translate it into something you can take action on.  In other words, you need #1 to do a good job of #6.  But if you are sitting on a great story about how you impressed a person you had previously disappointed or offended, or if you have an example of when you let a colleague down but were able to come through for another colleague (or the same one!) in a different situation, it could definitely speak to your ability to take criticism and make good use of it. ---- Don't be shy! Schedule a consultation to find out how we can help you.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

How to get unstuck writing your essay

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When your writing hits a wall, Forster Thomas coach Susan Clark has the answer for how to break out of your doldrums.

By Susan Clark

Let’s say you’re into football (I mean American football, not that goofy European game where no one scores).  The quarterback is back in formation and hands off to the running back – and the guy doesn’t move.  Linebackers are tearing up the turf and the team is going to take a big loss – but the running back is just sitting there, waiting for specific instructions about how to get through the defense.  

Sound ridiculous?  Marco, a candidate I coached last year, was that running back.  I took care of the game plan, telling Marco exactly what we were out to achieve with each essay.  I called the play, helping Marco find structure in his personal stories.  But then Marco dropped the ball.  He accepted everything and added nothing, ceding all control. When I asked him how he felt about his experiences, he replied, “What do you think I should say I was feeling?”

I am a coach.  I can help my clients find their most interesting stories and steer them around pitfalls and mistakes.  I can generate ideas, and I have tons of experience building applications. But I can’t supply the authenticity.  The essays needed Marco’s flair, his voice, his thoughts, his feelings, to bring them to life.

So I had Marco do a simple improvisational exercise that I learned while running logistics for acting workshops. I started a story with a random sentence.  Marco had to build on that story for a bit and then hand it off to me.  After passing it back and forth for a while, laughing the whole time, we returned to his essays. At first I had to coax him to apply the same loose logic to his own life, but Marco soon realized that his honesty made the stories sparkle.  After that, he didn’t struggle any more.

Are you stuck?  Here are three tips on how to get unstuck!

1.  Break out of your rut.  Had trouble thinking of what to say?  Chances are that you (and Marco) are a little short on innovation in your life, and it is affecting your ability to reflect on your life.  Go someplace you haven't been in a while.  Talk to some new people.  Try a new activity.

2.  Have fun with it.  It isn't a coincidence that Marco and I made our best progress in a humorous moment.  Sometimes a joke is exactly what you need to take your mind off your troubles and get you going again.

3.  Don't be your own editor.  No one can wear two hats at once except Zaphod Beeblebrox.  Your job is to come up with ideas, not decide whether or not they work.  Let your reader (or your essay coach) be the judge of that!


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How to research college? The college search always starts in the same place: the Internet. But until you’ve stepped onto a campus—not virtually, but by setting an actual foot onto an actual campus—you can’t really know what type of college you want to attend. We have worked with countless candidates who insisted they only wanted a “big state school”—until they set foot on a small liberal arts college campus. And we’ve had just as many who wanted that intimate setting who ended up falling in love with a mid-size school likeNorthwesternElon University, or TCU.

Approach the college search with the following mindset: “I don’t know what I don’t know.” What your neighbor said, your older brother said, or your religious community believes—throw it all out. It’s meaningless. You have to decide for yourself what type of campus environment suits you best, and you’ll never what schools taste like until you sample the flavor yourself.

David and I have known this for years, but last month we got an up-close-and-personal slap in the face about how easy it is to forget this advice when we went on a whirlwind tour of North Carolina colleges. We did seven very different schools in 48 hours (DukeDavidsonElonWake ForestHigh Point,University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, andGuilford).


We’re still exhausted—but it was worth every moment. We went with two IECA colleagues and had a lot of fun. None of us may have the energy of a 17 year old anymore, but nothing stopped us from acting like one.  College tours shouldn’t be somber processions through the hallowed halls of academia. That’s no way to really sample a school.

And touring seven colleges with two other highly intelligent and observant people led to several epiphanies in North Carolina:

1) Everyone has a different take on the same school. Uncle David thought Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina, was the perfect environment for a bright, liberal arts-minded, competitive-yet-not-cutthroat student who wanted an intimate environment on a leafy Southern campus that was ready for its Hollywood close-up. Auntie Evan thought it was a great setting for an artsy kid who wanted a traditional college town with cool stores and cafes. One of our colleagues felt Davidson was a prepster heaven custom-made for a private-school student who was a little sheltered (and whose family wanted it to stay that way)—45% of its students come from independent schools. Our other colleague pointed out that, while the student body came from 40 states and 18 countries, 39% came from the Southeast U.S. and wondered if Midwestern kids (at 9%) would feel comfortable. We all agreed to disagree on who the perfect Davidson student was. What does that mean? You have to see it for yourself to decide which one of us you agree with.  And that’s the way it is for all colleges nationwide.

2. Don’t judge the school based solely on the presenter in the information session. There we were at Duke, the crème de la crème Southern Ivy according to US News. We picked up our requisite t-shirts at the Duke University Student Union, walked past the Duke Chapel, wandered through the academic buildings and East Campus housing and then up to Admissions for the info session—and that’s when the whole thing fell apart. I’m not going to say the name of this admissions presenter (because I’m not a mean person), but she was so boring that she could sober up all 60,000 attendees of Burning Man. Trust us. Our colleagues had to keep nudging Auntie Evan awake. How could an info session on one of the world’s most vibrant, challenging, resource-rich academic communities be a better sedative than a 10mg Ambien? Duke should have the best, most interesting, intellectual, interactive info session possible. Yet, all the presenter did was talk and talk and talk at us. One of her personal highlights of Duke’s hometown of Durham was the opportunity to get tickets to Wicked—a Broadway show that opened in 2001 and has toured the country countless times. And she went on and on—it was enough time for Evan’s iPhone to charge up from 20% to 87%.

But here’s the take-away: Duke is phenomenal. The majors, the proximity to Durham (rated one of the country’s best foodie cities in the US), the internships and the research availability—not to mention some of the brightest minds in the world, both faculty and students. The access to grad school and Wall Street. Hello? Duke’s superiority is indisputable. That’s why you cannot dismiss a school based on one boring apple. What you can do is…

3. Talk to random students you meet on campus—not just the tour guide or presenter. Stopping random students walking to class can be intimidating, but we promise you that students love to talk about their school. For the first 20 minutes at Wake Forest, let’s just say it was so white we thought we were in a blizzard. Then, huddled together near the student union (like the football team they turned out to be) was a group of students of color. When Evan made a beeline to talk to them, the other three of us almost fainted by his display of boldness. And Evan cut straight to the chase (which you should feel free to do as well). Evan introduced himself and us, asked a couple of safe questions about these students’ background (like college major, sports, and food), and then cut to what he really cared about: “What’s it like being a student of color at Wake Forest?” None of them batted an eye at the question, and Deacon Devil football cornerback Kevin Johnson had the most eloquent response: “It wasn’t so hard for me, because of where I grew up, but for some of my friends here, it was a real culture shock.” Yet everyone on the team agreed that the quality of the education, the friendliness of the students, and the support of the administration made that initial difficulty both worth it and surmountable. No regrets from anyone.

You won’t get that kind of honesty on a school’s website. And if you did, you shouldn’t trust it until you hear it from actual students on campus.

4) Don’t take your friends’ word for it—or what your mother’s friend’s father’s golf buddy had to say. Sometimes, it feels like the most important part of being an educational consultant is myth-busting. Every year, we hear the same misinformation being spread around communities like a virus: “There’s no Jewish people at Georgetown.” “There’s no Catholics at Brandeis.” “There’s no New Yorkers at University of Texas at Austin.” “Everyone at the University of Colorado at Boulder is a pothead.”

To educational consultants who visit schools regularly, who send a huge variety of students to a huge variety of schools, and who hear back from hundreds of our own alumni (rather than a few graduates of your high school), the above kind of statements is the same as hearing offensive stereotypes like “Brooklyn is dangerous” and “everyone in California is flaky.” Sure, you might have heard about a subway mugging on the G train, but for 20 years, Boise, Idaho, has been a more dangerous city per capita than New York. Commonly held myths about schools are what we call “anecdotal evidence”—kind of like when your uncle told you “Don’t go to China! It’s dangerous. I got sick that time I ate at Lucky Palace down the block.” We promise you two things: One, China isn’t deadly, and two, Lucky Palace has awesome takeout. What happened to one guy, one time, is no way to cast a blanket judgment—especially when you’re investing in four expensive years of your life.

The Two Schools We All Agreed On—And It Took a Campus Visit to See the Light

Elon University in Elon, North Carolina, is where all the stars aligned: Elon has been on our radar for a while, but none of us had visited the campus before. We had heard raves from our candidates who seen it for themselves, but being dubious about anecdotal evidence, we were excited to fact-check their glowing reviews after doing our own Internet investigations.

Elon has a thriving campus social life—there’s something for everyone, from gay athletes to future frat boys to literature lovers. The campus was spanking clean and high tech, with a rah-rah spirit and a leafy campus you could stroll through like a park. With 5,600 students, it’s not too small and not too big; it has excellent programs in business, communications, education, the arts, and even a 3-2 engineering program. Assistant Director of Admissions Scott Christopherson was amazing in his information session—charming, knowledgeable, passionate, and attentive (Duke should snatch him up pronto). Now, Auntie Evan knows why his niece, Julia, has moved this school to the top of her list. (But she’s smart enough to keep going on other campus visits, to make sure.)

Finally, we have to talk about the surprising high point of our trip, High Point University. We went there with very low expectations. After all, we weren’t taking our own advice: We had heard that High Point was a country club for not-so-bright kids, and was investing its considerable resources in “all the wrong things” like fancy dorms instead of quality teaching. And indeed, approaching the gates of High Point was a bit like the approach to Disney World. We hadn’t even gotten past the guard gate, yet we could see the fountains, the EPCOT-like flag parade along the fresh-paved cobblestones, the gleaming-new buildings, and manicured lawns.

We parked our SUV and wandered around campus for a bit before making it to the very welcoming welcome center. There, we chatted with students from all over the country and world—not a tour guide with a memorized speech. They might not have been the top students in their high school classes, but while High Point is not on the Colleges That Change Lives list like Guilford, it is transforming its students in a way we didn’t expect. We met English majors and biochemistry students and seniors who were accepted to top law and medical schools. Indeed, they did love going to a school where you can send your laundry out, upgrade to a deluxe room, and enjoy some of the best campus food in America—but what really mattered to them was their education.

But let’s be honest: Auntie Evan’s favorite person at High Point was the gate guard, Valerie Baxter. The only way to get a true sense of Ms. Baxter is to go and visit. That’s all we’ll say on that. Not even her profile on page 90 of High Point’s viewbook does justice to this larger-than-life personality. Meeting her in person is worth the flight to North Carolina alone. She’s an enthusiastic ambassador of the university, and their most important asset. Give this woman a raise.

Colleges are like “a box of chocolates,” to quote one of our most hated films. Until you bite into ’em, you just don’t know what you’re getting.  Start planning your college trips NOW!

—Auntie Evan and Uncle David


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Did you ever wonder what criteria admissions committees employ in making their decisions?  Here is your answer.

By Evan Forster and David Thomas

College applicants are obsessed with the alphabet soup of standardized tests—SATs, ACTs, APs, etc.—and their impact on admissions. Next come extracurriculars and essays as focal points for college candidates. But these are just a few of many, many factors that count in the decision-making process of admissions committees. Not all universities put the same weight on the same factors: one school may care much more about GPA weighting while another wants strong writing skills even in science applicants.

But we love this comprehensive list of data points considered by admissions officers, which came out of a discussion of our colleagues at IECA. And please note that these are NOT in any sort of order (after all, each college would rank this list differently). Look it over and evaluate which are your strong suits, your weak spots, and which you’ve never even thought about! If you don’t even know what some of these are, shoot us an email!

1.            Grades in high-school courses

2.            Cumulative GPA

3.            Class Rank

4.            Rigor of courses (degree to which the student challenged herself within the context of available courses)

5.            SAT/ACT/Subject Test Scores

6.            AP/IB scores

7.            Recommendations (Teacher, School Counselor, Other)

8.            Awards/Honors/Recognition

9.            Activities

10.          Re-computation of GPA (weighting, unweighting, use of core courses only, etc.)

11.          Special Talents (music, athletics, etc.)

12.          Relative who is an alum

13.          Profile of the applicant’s high school

14.          Family’s ability to pay

15.          Essays

16.          Extenuating circumstances (illness, etc.)

17.          Member of an underrepresented group

18.          Choice of major

19.          International applicant

20.          Socioeconomic background/level of parent’s education

21.          Character (suspensions, criminal history, etc.)

22.          Demonstrated interest

23.          Personal interview

24.          Early Decision vs. Regular Decision

25.          Upward/Downward trend in grades throughout high school

26.          Volunteerism

27.          Portfolio (for art, architecture, interior design, etc.)

27.          After-school/summer employment

28.          Audition (music, performing arts, etc.)

29.          Comes from a “famous” family, or the student him/herself is famous

30.          Development case: Family is able to make/has made a very significant financial contribution to the college

31.          Geographic/regional desirability

32.          Number of students applying to that institution from a given high school in that particular year

33.          Applicant comes from a high school that has historically been a “feeder” high school for that college

34.          Gap Year experience

35.          Intellectual curiosity/Enthusiasm for learning

36.          Has taken the initiative to seek-out outside courses, in cases where the student’s high school might not offer “high-level” courses such as APs

37.          Participation in a rigorous academic summer program offered by a college

38.          Demonstrated leadership

39.          How early/late application was submitted in cases where rolling admission is used

40.          State of residence (State-supported institutions must adhere to legislated limits on the number of out-of-state students who can enroll.  On the other hand, if a state college is looking to bring in additional tuition dollars, filling the class with a particular percentage of out-of-state students is beneficial because they pay higher tuition.)

41.          Documented learning disability

42.          Essay in response to the question: “Have you ever been suspended or dismissed from a school?”

43.          Child of that college’s administration, faculty or staff


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To commemorate Businessweek’s 2014 ranking of the top undergraduate business programs, Forster Thomas is profiling the top ten. At #8 this year is a newcomer, Indiana's Kelley School.

By Ben Feuer, Photo by Jeff Hart


Kelley is an innovator among the top ten, with a popular new online initiative and an undergraduate program whose reputation continues to rise.

Fantastic in-state tuition of $8,919 per year

#1 ranked by recruiters

Top feeder for EY

Mark Cuban is an alum! That's fun.

Average salary upon graduation: $55, 167



85 percent of Kelley applicants are freshmen. As a Bloomington direct admit (available to students entering in the fall semesters only), you can bypass the admissions requirements current IU students must meet to be accepted into the program, so if you know this is the way you want to go, it's a good bet.

Students must indicate an intended major in business on the university application and meet the direct admit criteria of 1270 SAT or a 30 ACT and earn a high school GPA of 3.7 or higher. To actually gain admission, however, a 3.8 / 1350 split is more realistic.

Unconventionally, Kelley does not require letters of recommendation or essays from undergraduate applicants in the initial review process, although both may be required if you are invited to apply for Selective Scholarships and/or Scholar Programs. The required personal statement for freshmen has a 300-word limit.



Standard admission into Kelley gives you a powerful advantage when it comes to acceptance into Kelley: they don’t care about your ACT scores from high school.

Interested students must fill out an application for admissions to the Kelley School by April 1 for fall admission or November 1 for spring admission. A student must take specified courses in business analysis, business communication, and mathematics and complete 26 credit hours to apply. Consistent B performance across all courses is expected, and they look at all grades, not just business.

Your involvement with extracurricular activities, community service, and any work experience you have are considered by the committee, but academic performance weighs most heavily in the decision.


If you are interested in transferring into the Kelley Undergraduate Program, your first step is to apply and be admitted to IU Bloomington. You’ll need to be enrolled as a University Division student for at least your first semester on campus.

Once you are admitted to IU Bloomington, you are encouraged to apply for Kelley School admission during your first two semesters.


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