Wednesday, December 17, 2014

MPA or MBA: Choose in 30 Seconds

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If you're trying to choose between an MPA and an MBA quickly, this is the post for you!

No muss, no fuss.  Here are the most important factors to consider when choosing between the MPA and the MBA.

STUDIES
MBAs focus on economics, finance and marketing, aiming for jobs in the private sector or hedging their bets between private and non-profit.  
MPAs negotiate and face trade-offs, seek grants, and learn to manage policy and human resources, focusing on public sector or socially conscious business.

COST AND VALUE OF DEGREE
MBAs are elite, expensive, and highly competitive.  They are widely available.  They are financed via family money, earnings or loans.  They are somewhat flexible, allowing non-profit, for-profit, and entrepreneurial career paths.
MPAs are less common, more niche, but also more affordable.  They are financed via loans, tuition forgiveness, and financial aid.  They are highly flexible, allowing non-profit, public sector, and for-profit career paths.
Both degrees learn operations management, project managment, and leadership.

LIKELY JOB PLACEMENT
MBAs go into marketing, management, finance, consulting, and entrepreneurship.
MPAs go into urban planning, research and budget analysis, government, and national security.

WHERE TO GO
For an MBA, consider Wharton, HBS, Stanford, Kellogg, or NYU Stern.  
For an MPA/MPP, consider Johns Hopkins SAIS, Columbia SIPA, Harvard KSG, or Indiana Bloomington.

HYBRID APPROACHES
Stern offers a Social Innovation and Impact specialization which can overlap with MPA needs, and HBS offers a dual degree at the Kennedy School, which can be paired with other degrees.  Georgetown offers an MSFS/MBA for foreign focus.  Tufts' Fletcher school offers a well-regarded MIB 2-year degree with good job placement options.

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A great educational consultant doesn’t do the work for you. He (or she) pushes you—like a tough athletic coach—to go from good to GREAT in all aspects of your candidacy.



By Evan Forster

Lebron James has undeniable natural talent. He couldn’t be less than “good” at basketball if he shot the ball from his couch with his other hand wrapped around a Pringles tube. But if you want to be Major League, you need someone outside your own mind and body to push you to a new level.

Sammy’s application to MIT Sloan’s MBA program is an excellent example. I enjoyed Sammy’s optional personal expression essay. It was clever, well-produced, and bold. And yet it was missing something crucial.

MIT Sloan’s optional essay allows the applicant to create something original, something that reveals his or her personality.  Sammy made a video, a clever takeoff of Apple’s “I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC” commercials, explaining that he was no typical finance guy in the way that Macs aren’t typical computers. In making good points about who Sammy is, it did exactly what that essay is supposed to do, no more and no less.  AND THAT WAS THE WHOLE PROBLEM.

At Forster-Thomas, we refer to the upper echelon of elite schools as the Major Leagues of Admissions—Harvard College, Columbia Medical School, Haas B-School, Stanford Law, USC Film.  We do that for a reason.  It takes something special to make it to the major leagues.  Talent is a given.  Most people applying to those schools have talent.  Effort matters—a lot—but not all effort is created equal.  Some effort is wasted on things that don’t count.  That’s why major leaguers need COACHES.  You know, that guy on the sidelines in a suit or uniform (or in the case of Bill Belichick, a grungy hoodie) screaming at you to slide or bunt or whatever it is you do in baseball.  You need someone to take your clever essay ideas, your interesting interview responses and your competent resume from “effective” and “polished” to “authentic” and “compelling.” 

In Sammy’s case, his optional personal expression essay was missing that one, teeny-tiny, indispensable ingredient: HEART. While the Forster-Thomas crew enjoyed and nodded at the video when we saw it, a day later, none of us could recall a thing about Sammy—other than the fact that he’s not a PC.  And that is a BIG, BIG problem. If I don’t remember Sammy, neither will the adcoms.

While Sammy had worked with us on his applications to other schools, he did MIT Sloan on his own.  Imagine if he had had someone there to push him, to make him sweat the small stuff.  Imagine, if instead of a perfect Mac, we saw a guy who showed off two amazing things about himself like his academic ability and a great club he led. And then imagine Sammy stops. He looks down, and then back up at the camera and says, “Wait. I don’t wanna put anyone else down—not PC or anyone.” And then he reveals something not so great—like his struggle organizing thoughts, a truth about his insecurity about transitioning from law to business. And then he asks MIT for help giving him the life his really wants. And maybe he cuts to this part when he’s “backstage,” setting everything up. See?  It not only takes it past the clever “Mac/PC” commercial, but it humanizes him. Now MIT doesn’t just like Sammy. MIT remembers Sammy. We all do.  

That’s what a strong, experienced, savvy educational consultant does. He or she takes you from D-League to Major League—by helping you find and express your HEART, not just your resume.  Odds are, Sammy considered doing something personal and warm—but rejected the idea. Without someone to give him permission to get real, he backed off because admissions is scary. The more your put yourself on the line, the harder it is if you get rejected.

You may be Superman, but you have Kryptonite buried somewhere in your candidacy, and it will suck all the power out of it if you let it.  We all have a blind spot—you, me, everybody.  We all need a coach to be great.

I have a confession to make: I have a bit of an ego.  That is why it is extra hard for me to admit what I’m about to admit: I’m not a Mac.  I’m not slick, or polished.  I wake up every day and ask myself, “Was I a phony yesterday? Does anyone really care what I have to say today?"

That fear is not “slick” or “polished”—it’s just the truth.  My media consultant, Hank, otherwise known as my personal pain-in-the ass, is my secret weapon that never lets me merely be good. He helps me be great. That’s why I hire him.  And that’s why you should hire us, or another educational consultant that is the right fit for your personality and needs.

You worked hard to give yourself a shot at a top program or school.  Why settle for second best in your candidacy and your applications, the final and most telling stage of the entire process?  That’s why you need a GREAT educational consultant.  The good news is, I have a couple suggestions about where to start looking.  HECA, IECA ... I'm looking at you!

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When it comes to getting into a top filmmaking MFA like USC, not all materials are created equal.  What can you do to make your application stand out?

Considered by many to be the #1 film school in America and possibly the world, USC is famous for having housed George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis, all of whom continue to support their Alma Mater.   So what does it take to join their hallowed ranks?  Well, first, you have to get into the school -- no mean feat, as top film schools have become more selective every year, with USC's hovering at a measly 9 percent.

Of course, USC's deadline of November 15th is already past for this year, but there's still the spring, not to mention next year, and getting your portfolio in shape is a long-term kind of project.

The most important component of your application is going to be your creative portfolio.  Simply put, if it's great, you're in.  Here are the required elements for the 2014-2015 USC Film and Television MFA, and how to make each of them stand out from the pack.

1.  Cinematic Arts Personal Statement (please upload in PDF format under the "Forms" section): The personal statement will be read by the Film & Television Production Admission Committee as a measure of creativity, self-awareness and vision. We are looking for a sense of you as a unique individual and how your distinctive experiences, characteristics, background, values and/or views of the world have shaped who you are and what you want to say as a creative filmmaker. We want to know about the kind of stories you want to tell. Bear in mind that enthusiasm for watching films, descriptions of your favorite films and the involvement in the filmmaking process is common in most candidates. As a result, we encourage that you focus on your individuality. Note that there is no standard format or correct answer. (1,000 words or less).

USC's expectations in a personal statement are exceptionally clearly laid out here.  They do NOT want to hear about all the cool productions you've been a part of.  They do not want to know that you hung out with Krysten Ritter at a bar one time.  They want to know your story -- your personal, human narrative -- that led you to this point of applying to film school.

Does that mean you 'can't talk' about film?  Of course not!  How would you wind up applying to film school without having film be a major component of your life?  That would be weird!  The point is, that can't be the 'only' thing going on in your life.  They want to know what raw material, what attitudes and experiences, you're going to be drawing upon when you tell your stories.  So tell them a story -- the kind that only you can tell -- yours!

2.  Writing Sample (choose one) (please upload in PDF format under the "Forms" section):
An outline for a four-minute film that contains no dialogue. It can be fiction or non-fiction. The story has to be communicated visually. (No more than two pages).

One important principle in screenwriting is the ability to limit one's writing to what one can see and hear, present tense.  This prompt tests your ability to tell simple visual stories.

You could almost think about this as a picture book project -- give yourself a short, limited story to tell, and don't push yourself to be new or original, just focus on being clear, direct and specific.  Originality grows out of limitation and specificity.

Listen up, post-MTV generation -- this is not, or at least should not be, an exercise in fast cutting and showmanship.  No one cares that you know what a dolly shot is, and there should not be any camera angles.  Instead, your sentences should correspond to shots, and your paragraphs to scenes.  Think of something evolving step by step.  Include detail.  Slow the pace.

A dialogue scene between two people. Provide a one-paragraph introduction describing the two characters in screenplay format. (No more than three pages).

There is a principle in dramatic writing known as a 'fulcrum' -- the idea that every scene is a miniature conflict, and that it resolves (in one way or another) at the fulcrum, or climax of the scene.  It's imperative that the scene COULD have gone either way, but it WOUND UP going XYZ direction.

Whether or not you agree with the idea that every scene functions in this manner, for THIS assignment and this scene, you should write in this manner.  It will give you a framework, an objective to reach, and quickly -- don't waste time with introductions and setting the stage.  Get to the meat!

Describe a concept for a feature-length movie, fiction or documentary, which you would like to develop. (No more than two pages).

Concepts, or treatments, should be written in present tense format, just like screenplays.  They should be limited to what we see and hear.  

The other distinctive and important aspect of writing concepts is that they must be segmented, IE broken down into acts and sequences.  This not only helps your reader to understand the order of events, it also helps YOU to understand them.

Another challenge of concepts is deciding what to include and what to leave out.  The most important things to include are key characters, including descriptions, and important locations and plot transitions, which typically grow out of characters.

3.  Visual Sample (Choose one) (Please submit under the "Media Section"). 
Please submit only one of the two visual samples. It is essential that you specify what role(s) you have played in your visual sample.

Video Option: Create a brief narrative video in which you had a major creative role. The video can be live-action or animation, fiction or documentary, but it should reflect your aesthetic tastes and intellectual and emotional interests. (No longer than five minutes.) Please submit only ONE video. Multiple submissions WILL NOT be reviewed.

Photo Option: Prepare a series of eight photographs you have taken which, when viewed in a specific sequence, portray a unique and original character or which tell a simple narrative story. Please upload the photos in order of sequence (1-8). Also, include a one-page narrative about the character being portrayed in the photos. The images may either be black-and-white or in color. Please also upload the required one page narrative into the "media" section of the application.

You see that phrase, "specify your role"?  There is a very good reason USC is asking you to do that.  This material is being used to assess your abilities, not whether you were peripherally connected to something famous or interesting.  Don't waste this submission on attempts at name dropping or self promotion!

Another important warning here -- less is better.  USC helps you out with that by limiting the duration of your video to 5 minutes.  You can make a remarkable short film in five minutes or less.  Many people have.  Heck, you can make a great short film in 30 seconds -- just watch the super bowl ads if you don't believe me!  Show your ability to tell a story with pictures, and take advantage of your time limitations.  Embrace them rather than struggling against them.

 Don't get too bogged down in technical details like production value.  If your sample looks amazing or stars that kid from that show, hey, that's nice, but its ultimately beside the point.  USC wants to see that you have the raw materials and capabilities to be a storyteller, so that they can then mold you into their KIND of storyteller.  Particuarly a visual storyteller, someone who knows how an image can send a message.

So, there you are!  Everything you need to craft an awesome portfolio!  If you have more questions, of course, you can always ask me -- happy submitting!


Thursday, December 04, 2014

Law School: A buyer's market?

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True, applications are trending downward.  But for those of you who really want to be lawyers, this might be good news.

We here at Forster Thomas have been tracking law school trends for quite some time.  As most people know by now, there has been a substantial decrease in the number of applicants to law school, leading some programs to shrink and a few to disappear entirely.  But for those of you who actually WANT to be lawyers (as opposed to those of you who just saw it as 'the thing to do'), this might actually be good news.  Why?  Because if you apply to law school this year, you are entering a buyer's market.  Schools are slashing tuition and cutting deals with cost-conscious students -- an extremely appealing prospect if, like most students, you look at the size of the debts incurred and get a little light-headed.

But there's more to it than that.  Big law firms are competing harder and harder for top students, offering bonuses of as much as $100,000, depending on experience.  Even the normally cynical Above the Law called the bonus news 'exciting.  And in certain, truly exceptional cases, such as the case of a Boies Schiller associate who put in an average of 10 hours every day, including weekends, for months on end, the bonuses got much, much bigger ... as high as $350,000.  Note -- Forster-Thomas does not endorse working 70 hour weeks.

The facts are clear enough -- while this might not be an ideal time to be at the bottom of the law school pyramid, or even in the middle, for students graduating at the top of their class or for students graduating from T14 law schools, this is an excellent time to be entering the job market.


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When it comes to getting into a top film MFA like NYU Tisch, not all materials are created equal.  What can you do to make your application stand out?

NYU Tisch is a top five film school in America, producing graduates like James Franco, Martin Scorsese and Oliver Stone, along with many recent independent and studio filmmakers.   So what does it take to join their hallowed ranks?  Well, first, you have to get into the school -- no mean feat, as top film schools have become more selective every year, with Tisch's hovering at around 15 percent.

The most important component of your application is going to be your creative portfolio.  Simply put, if it's great, you're in.  Here are the required elements for the 2014-2015 Tisch MFA in filmmaking.

  1. Visual Submission: a sample or samples of your work presented visually. Material done in collaboration with other artists is acceptable provided you were the major creative force (i.e., director, producer, writer, camera operator or editor) and you explain in detail the exact nature of your contribution. Choose ONE of the following formats (i.e., do not combine video and photography):

    Video: The submission can contain one or more selections as long as the total running time does not exceed 30 minutes.  Video footage of staged plays or theatre performances are not acceptable. Please be clear about your specific contributions to the video sample. You may upload up to ten minutes of video on to the media page within Slideroom. If the total running time of your video sample exceeds ten minutes,  a link to your work must be provided on the media page. Please test your video prior to submission.  If you are submitting a link, please be sure no downloads or passwords are required.

    Or


    Photography
    (Stills): no more than 10 prints on any subject, black and white or color, with or without commentary. The photographs may also be a presentation of work in other media, such as painting, illustration, sculpture, set design, costume design, etc. (Still images and scans uploaded to tischfilmandtv.slideroom.com should be a minimum of 72 dpi).
You see that phrase, "major creative force"?  That should be your mantra here -- love it, live by it.  This material is being used to assess your abilities, not whether you were peripherally connected to something famous or interesting.  Don't waste this submission on attempts at name dropping or self promotion!

Another important warning here -- ONLY SUBMIT YOUR ABSOLUTE STRONGEST WORK.  This might sound obvious, but you'd be amazed how often people are seduced into thinking more is better. It's not.  Less is better.  You can make a remarkable short film in five minutes or less.  Many people have.  Heck, you can make a great short film in 30 seconds -- just watch the super bowl ads if you don't believe me!  Show your ability to tell a story with pictures, and take advantage of your time limitations.  Embrace them rather than struggling against them.

 Don't get too bogged down in technical details like production value.  If your sample looks amazing or stars that kid from that show, hey, that's nice, but its ultimately beside the point.  Tisch wants to see that you have the raw materials and capabilities to be a storyteller, so that they can then mold you into their KIND of storyteller.  Particuarly a visual storyteller, someone who knows how an image can send a message.

2.  A story synopsis for a four-minute silent film. Only exterior settings should be used, without description of camera angles. There should be a visual story line and characters, but no voice-over, dialogue, or music.  No more than three double spaced pages describing only what we can see designed to play as a four-minute movie.

One important principle in screenwriting is the ability to limit one's writing to what one can see and hear, present tense.  That skill is what is being tested by this prompt.  Simple pictorial storytelling.

You could almost think about this as a picture book project -- give yourself a short, limited story to tell, and don't push yourself to be new or original, just focus on being clear, direct and specific.  Originality grows out of limitation and specificity.

Listen up, post-MTV generation -- this is not, or at least should not be, an exercise in fast cutting and showmanship.  No one cares that you know what a dolly shot is, and there should not be any camera angles.  Instead, your sentences should correspond to shots, and your paragraphs to scenes.  Think of something evolving step by step.  Include detail.  Slow the pace.

3.  A dialogue scene between two people. Write an interesting conversation that reveals something about the two characters.  You can give a one sentence description of each character, but please only essential details.  No back story. A maximum of two pages, in screenwriting format.

There is a principle in dramatic writing known as a 'fulcrum' -- the idea that every scene is a miniature conflict, and that it resolves (in one way or another) at the fulcrum, or climax of the scene.  It's imperative that the scene COULD have gone either way, but it WOUND UP going XYZ direction.

Whether or not you agree with the idea that every scene functions in this manner, for THIS assignment and this scene, you should write in this manner.  It will give you a framework, an objective to reach, and quickly -- don't waste time with introductions and setting the stage.  Get to the meat!

4.   Describe one concept for a feature-length script, narrative, or documentary that you would like to develop. No more than one page, typed, double-spaced.

Concepts, or treatments, should be written in present tense format, just like screenplays.  They should be limited to what we see and hear.  

The other distinctive and important aspect of writing concepts is that they must be segmented, IE broken down into acts and sequences.  This not only helps your reader to understand the order of events, it also helps YOU to understand them.

Another challenge of concepts is deciding what to include and what to leave out.  The most important things to include are key characters, including descriptions, and important locations and plot transitions, which typically grow out of characters.

A personal statement.

 The personal statement is easy to overlook -- after exhausting yourself trying to come up with amazing creative samples, who has the energy to devote to explaining one's personal background and motivations?  You do, that's who.  You do.  

The thing that you are forgetting is that YOU are a character.  YOU have an important story to tell, and it's yours, the path you took to arrive at NYU's door.  There should be twists and turns, surprising revelations.  Exciting and dramatic insights.  And of course, there should be strong and plausible reasons why this, of all things, is what you have chosen to dedicate your life to.

 You might be thinking, yeah, but my life is really not that exciting of a story to tell.  I beg to differ.  You just have to learn to look at it like a screenwriter does.  Start pulling out the little conflicts and conversations inherent to each life and teasing them into longer pieces.  You'll have yourself a rich story in no time.

And that's about it!  If you have more questions, of course, you can always ask me -- happy submitting!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Business insider's 2014 top 50 law schools

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Business Insider released its annual top 50 law schools.  Check out what has changed in recent years.

Another year, another top schools list.  Pretty soon we're going to need a top 50 list of top 50 school lists.  Business Insider releases information on a range of professional programs, including law school, and their new list just came out.  We gave it a once-over and came away with some interesting impressions.

While the top five has remained fairly steady year over year, there are some interesting shifts in the top 14.  U. Penn and Chicago have both dropped substantially in the rankings since 2012, while Duke, a (somewhat inexplicably) hot school in pretty much every ranking lately, soared to #5.  NYU dropped a few slots in the rankings as well, although it remains the top school for tax, and still boasts an extremely impressive 97% employment rate after graduation.  Michigan Ann Arbor and Northwestern both dropped a bit (Michigan's employment numbers are in the mid 80s, not a sparkling number for a T14 school) and UCLA dropped precipitously, from just outside the T14 to 21.

Overall, however, the differences are mostly minor, musical chairs more than sea changes, and any school in the top 25 remains an excellent destination for a prospective legal scholar, assuming he or she is prepared to put in the hard work and graduate in the top 50%->25% of his or her class.

 

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 The QS TopMBA Global 200 has been released for 2014-2015.  With its international focus and emphasis on employability and recruitability, this continues to be a useful tool in determining which business schools are worth the money.

Hot on the heels of Bloomberg, this year’s QS Topmba rankings have been released.  These rankings focus almost exclusively on surveys of global employers, and as such, should be seen in a very different light than any other ranking out there.  QS did add 15% for “academic reputation” this year, but it had little to no impact in the top six: Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, Booth, Kellogg and Columbia are safe yet again.


In North America, certain trends jump out.  Yale climbed the QS ranking and the Bloomberg ranking this year — a coup for the school, it would seem.  Yale is ranked 11th, up from 17th, this year in QS.  Canada overall sank in the rankings, with its top school, Rotman Toronto, dropping to 14 from 8.  One shocking loser in this year’s QS rankings is Vanderbilt Owen, which plummeted from #37 to #86 — a testament to the volatility of ranking by survey.  Owen’s drop in the Bloomberg rankings was much less precipitous, from 25 down to 30.  USC Marshall and UT Austin McCombs also made substantial gains in this year’s rankings.

One of the most eyeball-grabbing figures in the 2014-2015 QS rankings is the precipitous drop in overall score after Rotman at #14.  It plummets from 90 to 78, a massive 12 point drop, and by rank #17, Desautels McGill, the overall score is down to 71 percent.  This suggests that somewhere around this point in the rankings, the limitations of the survey size probably began to make themselves felt, and fluctuations in the lower 70-80 percent of the rankings should be taken with a large grain of salt.

The international trends are equally fascinating.  While business schools in the US and Europe remain the most popular study destinations among MBA students, schools elsewhere in the world such as those in Asia are growing in popularity.  According to the QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey 2014, over 50% of MBA students are choosing schools based on the country in which they wish to work — a very sensible decision, if you ask us.

In Europe, IE, IESE and IMD (the magic Is) were slightly displaced by (relative) newcomers like HEC Paris and Judge school in Cambridge.  SDA Bocconi in Italy continues to do well in QS rankings.  Again, there are massive overall score dropoffs at #11 and #14.

In Asia, INSEAD Singapore borrows name and reputation recognition from its powerful European sibling, scoring more than 35 points higher than any other school in Asia overall (although still much lower than the top European and American business schools).  The highest ranked mainland Chinese school, Beijing BiMBA, has an overall score of 25.3, and there are only 30 schools in the Asia ranking. 

Latin America, the Middle East and Africa have 15 total schools to offer out of the top 200, none ranking higher than 23.5 points overall, mostly suffering by dint of professional name recognition.  As the economy continues to globalize, the reputations of these schools will undoubtedly continue to improve.

Overall, it's worth remembering not to place too much emphasis on this (or any) particular ranking, but rather to consider them holistically, as part of a spectrum of information about top schools.  That said, as the importance of global business school rankings continues to increase, we can only hope that the rigor of QS's methodology will increase along with it, making this a reliable ranking for years to come.


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Hang onto your hats, things are about to get  wild around here.  Bloomberg released its newest ranking of MBA (and undergraduate B-school) programs this week.  We can see the headlines now -- Death of HBS?  Duke ascendant?  Take it easy.  Let's look at this more closely.

 

 By Ben Feuer

The first thing to consider when evaluating any ranking of schools is the methodology.  Bloomberg relies primarily on surveys of students and employers, and secondarily on faculty article publications.  This method has some obvious flaws -- there will be a tendency by students to rank their school more highly to try to make their school appear more prestigious, and since the methods of the ranking are publicly known, it would be completely conceivable for a lower ranked school to 'game' the rankings.  Bloomberg claims to correct against this by having psychologists evaluate the data.  The survey of employers seems more reliable, but ultimately basically amounts to a 'who is best known' contest.  Finally, the ranking by article publications is naturally going to favor schools with more prominent journals, since it is easier for Harvard professors to get published in Harvard Journals, Duke professors in Duke journals, et cetera.

So with those caveats in mind, what conclusions can we draw from the striking changes in the 2014 rankings?

In a post-online world, will Harvard's name brand dominance finally be challenged?  The most striking jump is HBS, from 2 down to 8.  Is this the beginning of the end of HBS's rankings dominance?  Hold your horses there, cowboy.  In their description of this year's ranking methodology, Bloomberg explains that this year’s ranking will show more change than previous rankings have done because previous years of data weigh less heavily on the current scores -- A LOT LESS.  This year's student evaluation counted for 75 percent up from 50 percent, and the 2010 survey was eliminated completely from the ranking.  The reason Bloomberg used to incorporate multiple years was to prevent 'outlier years' -- of course, this new methodology seems destined to create many outlier years (and many headlines).  Ultimately, it is far too soon to ring a death knell at HBS based on this survey alone.  All of what we just said for HBS also applies to MIT, and in almost precisely the same manner.

Holding Steady ... In some ways, given the radical difference in methodology, it's more striking to note what did NOT change.  Three of the top four -- Booth, Wharton and Stanford -- are materially identical to last year, with slight changes.  Wharton continues to hold a higher place in Bloomberg's ranking than Stanford.  Lately some pundits have been quick to bury Wharton as outdated -- not the trendiest of top MBA hotspots.  I think this ranking shows that from an employment and student satisfaction standpoint, at least, Wharton is still a top three school, year after year.

Up and Coming?  Duke and Yale have long had well regarded MBA programs, but this might mark a watershed moment for both schools.  Duke is probably benefiting from its exceptional regional reputation, since the methodology of the employer survey this year incorporates regional and industry-specific recruiting more effectively than past surveys, and also devalues pure 'name brand recognition' somewhat (a battle HBS, Stanford and Wharton will win every year).  Yale's ascendancy is the most striking -- a quantum leap from 21 to 6 -- and could mark the beginning of a big two years for Yale's business school.  Given the strong name brand recognition of the undergraduate program, it's hard not to feel optimistic about Yale's chances for climbing higher in future US News rankings.

Conclusion.  Overall, it would be a mistake to read too much into Bloomberg's biannual rankings.  They change a lot every time they're done, and this year in particular, the major shifts in methodology produced a lot of upheaval.  The healthiest approach would be to look at this as one more data point in a long line.  Perhaps it will make some students reconsider strong programs they might otherwise have overlooked, like Tepper, Yale and UCLA Anderson.  That alone would be a fine outcome for this ranking.

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UC Berkeley Haas's goals essay this year is tricky.  It is going to trip up a lot of applicants.  Don't be one of them.

By Evan Forster

Earlier today I received a call from Brenda about the Haas MBA goals essay—

What is your desired post-MBA role and at what company or organization? In your response, please specifically address sub-questions a., b., and c.
a. How is your background compelling to this company?
b. What is something you would do better for this company than any other employee?
c. Why is an MBA necessary and how will Haas specifically help you succeed at this company?
(500-600 word maximum for 3a, 3b, and 3c combined)

Brenda’s amazing—a transportation industry titan-to-be. So why was her essay so flat?

We have been writing about the archetypal MBA goals essay (and other professional why Law, Med, Architecture, etc.) for years now.  After a while, it all starts to sound the same.

“Start with a story about you, followed by the difference you want to make in your short and long-term goal—and be specific. Zero in on why that School or program is right for you and how you’re a fit. Close by bringing at all around to your short and long-term goals, blah, blah, blah….” Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Anyway, Brenda sends me this response to Haas’ prompt #1. I can easily spot the fact that she’s being vague and cautious. There’s not a lot of power in telling an adcom, “I can help manage the way that X company deals with changing guidelines and law…” I suggest making it more “active”, but I’m not seeing a way to squeeze my square peg methodology into this round hole—Still, I’m trying. God forbid I should contradict myself, after all.  I’m supposed to be the expert!

After our call, I think more about the question.  Desired post-MBA role and company.  Simple enough.  McKinsey? Bain? Accenture? It’s just another goals essay.  And yet

And then, BAM!  I fall in love with the question. It’s not about locking yourself into the right company (although it should be reasonable given your industry background), but revealing your ability to spot needto figure out what stands between a company and unbridled success.  Get it?  They are looking for people to take on making a difference … WITHOUT PRIOR APPROVAL!

Sneaky, huh?                                                                    

For Brenda (and you) to ace this Haas goals essay, you have to be the guy who, without ‘permission,’ finds a way to make a team work better.  Brenda did this naturally as a college volleyball playerand somewhere, at some time, you did too.  So dig down deep.  Find the version of you that is fearless.  Decide to expand the transportation division of McKinsey, improving how it handles its infrastructure and government clients.

 Don’t worry about being wrong or seeming arrogant.  There are no Haas goals police. Declare your intention.  State the change you will make. That’s what leaders do, and that’s what great programs like Haas are really looking for.

Like Haas itself, this essay is about a way of being. You see what’s missing in a company. You (because of your particular background) and leadership-ability can usher in that change. And you recognize that you need help, what you need help in, what skills you need to bolster and—in each one of thesehow Haas specifically can help you.

So in the end, this IS just another goals essaywith added specificity, asked in terms that only a few people will get. Be one of them.

Auntie Evan’s 5 steps to Haas Goals Dominance

A)     Look at your current history/industry and remind yourself of what you’re best at.

B)      Decide where you can be of service to that industry.

C)      Know which companies are missing out on a possible growth area (you should know this because it’s your professional background)

D)     Figure out where you are in need of growth

E)      Invite Haas and its community (via specific classes, clubs, etc.) to join you in your endeavor. 


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Medical school admissions is one of the most complicated admissions processes of all -- it is extremely nuanced.  That said, here are the most important factors in admissions decisions, in order.

By David Thomas

So, you want to go to medical school?  Why not?  Doctors are highly compensated and respected professionals, and most, if not all of them, have bright futures and great careers in store.  Of course, becoming a doctor isn't as simple as just waving a magic stethoscope -- first, you have to attend a little thing called medical school, which means that you have to get into medical school (and thrive there).

Aspiring doctors (and their parents) often ask us what the most important factors are in determining who makes it into top medical schools like Johns Hopkins, Harvard, U. Penn Perelman and Yale.  Unfortunately, the answers are far from simple -- medical school admissions is arguably the most complex of all admissions processes.  That said, this checklist will give you a solid grasp of the basics.

1.  A high GPA in your prerequisites

 

Median GPA for a top 10 school should be in the 3.7+ range, with exceptionally high grades in  prerequisite courses such as
biology behavioral science
organic chemistry demonstration of writing skills
inorganic (general) chemistry calculus
physics social sciences
biochemistry general chemistry
humanities

2.  A high MCAT score

a score of 25.2 puts you at the 50th Percentile. A score of 31.6, one standard deviation from the mean, corresponds with the 84th Percentile, and a score of 38, two standard deviations from the mean, corresponds with the 99th Percentile. - See more at: https://benchprep.com/mcat/prep/what-is-a-good-mcat-score#sthash.3UGAMk8M.dpuf

You can read a bit more about it here, but the basics are as follows -- A score of 25.2 puts you at the 50th Percentile. A score of 31.6, one standard deviation from the mean, corresponds with the 84th Percentile, and a score of 38, two standard deviations from the mean, corresponds with the 99th Percentile.  For a top school, you'll want to be in the 85+ percentile, ideally 90+.

a score of 25.2 puts you at the 50th Percentile. A score of 31.6, one standard deviation from the mean, corresponds with the 84th Percentile, and a score of 38, two standard deviations from the mean, corresponds with the 99th Percentile. - See more at: https://benchprep.com/mcat/prep/what-is-a-good-mcat-score#sthash.3UGAMk8M.dpuf

3.  Great volunteer and clinical work

Show distinction by focusing on a particular area of practice -- show initiative by scouring local hospitals and nursing homes for good opportunities.  Most of all, show that you have a human side -- that you are not just a brain on stilts.

4.  Shadowing experience

Shadowing is a great chance to build up your bedside manner, get to know how a real doctor operates, and have some experience dealing with patients -- all of which matters a lot to top medical schools.

5.  At least one research experience (much more if you plan on applying for an MD/PhD)

Top medical schools want to take students who already know they like medicine and want to pursue it as a career, and lab experience helps show that you have thought things through.  Having trouble finding a good opportunity?  Check out this link for some tips.

6. A demonstrated interest in liberal arts and broad coursework

Fun fact -- philosophy majors have a higher acceptance rate to medical school than biology majors!  Part of this is a simple numbers game, but mostly this has to do with relatability -- after all, bedside manner counts for something, and no teacher wants to spend four years training a school full of technocrats.

So there you have it!  The six most important factors in determining whether that coveted 'admit' will be yours.  Get to cracking those books and chasing down those volunteering opportunities -- and don't forget to take a break and have a sandwich every once in a while!

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More questions? Get a free consultation or call 212-741-9090.