February 25th, 2014 - No Comments
You applied to b-school for Fall 2014—and didn’t get in. Now what? Panic? Hide under your bed? Give up your worldly possessions and move to the forest?
Start with a deep breath. A b-school rejection is what you make of it. While not the outcome for which you had hoped, how you handle it could very well determine if it’s just a speed bump on the road of life, or if it completely throws you off course.
Fact: The b-school admissions process is very competitive. Thousands of bright people of strong character get denied from their top choice each year.
Fact: Many dust themselves off, figure out what went wrong, correct their course, and get into b-school the following year.
At Smeal, we make it a practice to offer feedback to denied applicants so we can help them understand what went wrong and advise on how they might improve their chances in the next year’s admissions cycle. While we recognize you can’t go back in time and change things such as undergraduate transcripts or a job on your resume that might have been a bad fit, there is a lot you still CAN affect in time to apply again next year. If you have been denied this year and want to re-apply, please contact us between May and July and we’ll set up a feedback call with you.
Meanwhile, here are some of the aspects of the application to think about:
1)If you interviewed, how did it go? Did you feel prepared? Were your goals clear? Did you present the best picture of yourself that you could have while remaining true to yourself and your ambitions? If English is your second language, did you communicate confidently and clearly? Did you take the option to interview in-person if it was available to you (and feasible)? Did you present yourself in a professional manner (dress, mannerisms, etc.)
2)Did you choose recommenders who could really paint the best picture of what it’s like to work with you in a professional setting? Were your recommenders people who truly knew you well—and could attest to both your strengths and challenges?
3)Was your GMAT/GRE test performance as strong as it could have been? Did you prepare in earnest and do your best?
4)Does your resume present all of the information a committee needs to understand your experiences and accomplishments? (Including a clear time line of job progression, promotions, and duties.)
5)Did you take advantage of optional pieces of the application at schools who offered them? (i.e. Video submissions, additional essays, etc.)Taking the time to go the extra mile says a lot about your character. Optional pieces of the application are likely never a make it or break it part of the application, but they can help the committee get to know you better.
6)Were your essays clear, well-written, and organized logically? Did you answer the question asked and follow the directions regarding length/word limit? Did you use grammar and spell check (seriously—some people forget!)
7) Did your goals align with the strengths of the program—and did you apply to programs that made sense for your career and academic goals?
Part of the educational journey, and life’s journey, sometimes means failing and trying again. We hope that you will use your experience to learn more about yourself and your goals, and use that new found knowledge to apply again next year if that’s the best decision for you. In the long run, failure is only a true failure if we learn nothing from it.
–Stacey Dorang Peeler
February 18th, 2014 - No Comments
As you embark towards your MBA there may be no more important skill you can learn or cultivate than time management. Trust me when I tell you it’s better to get these skills as strong as possible now before you really need them than after your semester begins and you’re up to your ears in deadlines. I speak from experience.
I always feel like I had average skills when it came to time management, but once a brought a few new stressors into my life I realized I had no idea what I was doing. In April my wife and I had our first child, in August I began going back to school for a Master’s Degree, and in September we bought a new house we decided to renovate from top to bottom. It didn’t take long before I felt as if I was drowning without a life raft in a sea of “not enough time”. Learning what time management techniques work best for me before I needed them, would have helped me avoid many grey hairs and made my first few months of craziness easier to handle.
Just about anyone will tell you the same basics when it comes to time management techniques prioritize your tasks, plan ahead, and set goals. These few things sound simple as can be and you probably think will be right there for you in your head when you need. I’m telling if you don’t start using them before you really need them so they become second nature it may be harder than you think to pick them up.
Learn to prioritize the items on your plate each day. Rank your tasks as you see them in order of importance and urgency. If you don’t start to think about your time as a precious commodity and rank your tasks in a hierarchy you could easily start down a path of inefficiency.
Plan, plan, plan. It’s human nature when confronted with a pile of strains on your time to want to dive right in and start knocking things off the list. It really does take practice to be able to stand back and develop a plan first, especially when you are feeling stress to get it all done. Taking 30 minutes or an hour at the beginning of your day or week could save you much more time in the long run as you become more efficient.
Set goals or milestones on your progress to make sure you are getting where you need to go. These will help serve 2 goals. First of all they will give you an update on how you are progressing, showing that you are either on pace or if you need to ramp things up. The second benefit is that it can be a moral boost to set goals for yourself and then to complete them.
Make sure you find a plan that works for you because everyone if different. Also if you wait until your first year at an MBA program to learn how to best manage your time it may be too late.
- Scott Sylves
February 6th, 2014 - No Comments
This blog has been “re-purposed” from the MBA Mondays Blog: http://mba-mondays.tumblr.com/. The MBA Mondays Blog is dedicated to providing b-school admissions advice to Service Academy graduates considering an MBA. It was originally posted on 1.27.14.
If you’ve been admitted to an MBA program, you’ve likely also been invited to a school’s Admitted Student Weekend, “Visitation Weekend” or “Welcome Weekend”. While the title of the event may differ from school to school, most programs host this event in the spring during which all admitted candidates are invited to spend time on campus diving deeper into the program, getting to know students, staff and faculty, and generally getting a more in depth feel for what it’s like to be an MBA at a particular school. By the time Admitted Student Weekend rolls around, you’ve done the interview, you’re already accepted, and you are likely down to a couple of programs on your short list. This is the last chance to ask your final questions before making your commitment to a school, and also a great way to start getting to know other students who will likely be in your class if you attend that program. (It’s also possible you’ve already enrolled in a program. If that’s the case, you should STILL go to your program’s Visitation Weekend. It will help you stay engaged, meet new people who will soon be your classmates, and maybe even give you the opportunity to knock some things off the administrative “to do” list long before orientation starts.)
Some tips on how to make the most of a “Visitation Weekend”:
1)I’ll say it again—GO! You can only gain more insight and be more prepared for what your new life as an MBA student will bring. Yes, you’ve probably already done a visit. Yes, you’ve probably already seen a class. B-school is a huge investment, and this is the last shot you likely have before taking the plunge. In addition, most programs offer some kind of financial support to help bear the cost of making the trip and the expenses associated with it (i.e.: providing hotel rooms, meals, travel reimbursement). Most also let you bring a guest (partner, spouse, parent). Schools understand that for many, embarking on an MBA journey affects your family too. Take advantage of the option to attend with a guest if you think it would be beneficial.
2)Talk not only to faculty, staff and current MBA students, but also spend time talking to other admitted students. These are the people you will be in classes with for the next 2 years. Does it feel right? Are these people you want to work with on teams? Are you on the “same page”?
3)The agenda for the weekend is likely packed. Schools want to really give you a thorough exposure to everything they offer because they know how important your decision is. Do your best to attend every scheduled session—even if they are optional. You’ll be exhausted at the end of the event, but you’ll know you gave it 100% and made the most of your visit.
4)If there’s something still “nagging” you, or you have a tough question you haven’t asked yet, ASK IT. Schools genuinely want you to make the right choice for YOU, and most administrators and students will be glad you brought up a question or issue sooner rather than later. Things you think might be “taboo” or inappropriate to ask are likely asked about more than you think.
5)If you can spare the extra time during the trip, take the time to look at housing options while you are there. In most areas, graduate student housing fills up quickly. Unless you are comfortable with the sight unseen approach, try to check out some places to live while you are in town.
6)Mind your manners. While the school will do its best to make the best impression possible, you should do the same. Even at this early stage, you are already creating a reputation with faculty and your soon-to-be classmates. Be aware of things like dress codes for certain events, and if alcohol is being served, know your limits.
7)Plan ahead and communicate with the admissions team at the school. If you will arrive late, leave early, or need some kind of special accommodation (dietary, or other), let the event planner know in advance so they can help you have the best experience possible.
Here’s to a fantastic spring full of fruitful Admitted Student Weekends!
–Stacey Dorang Peeler
February 4th, 2014 - No Comments
Recently in an article about Wharton’s perceived conservative admissions decisions, published in “Poets & Quants” Adam Hoff, of Amerasia Consulting Group, mentions telling his clients to “proceed with caution when it comes to laying out your post-MBA plans. If your goal is even remotely hard to achieve, we strongly advise reconsidering that goal as it relates to your Wharton application.” (Poets & Quants, Byrne http://poetsandquants.com/2013/11/15/conservative-shift-seen-in-wharton-early-admits/ ) From the standpoint of a Business school, the phrase “reconsider the goal as it relates to…” is a scary statement. The article implies that applicants should tailor their career goal statement to what the Business School admissions team wants to hear, which is becoming more in synch with what Career Services teams think are employable. To some extent, candidates are encouraged to stretch the truth a bit if their true goals are ambitious or are not in line with a school’s placement strength.
The reality is just the opposite. Admissions committees prefer to know the truth, upfront. Being truthful about career goals from day one can only help both the school and the candidate. If a business school is going to deny you because they can’t help you find a job that meets your career goals, then that is not the business school for you. Throw away rankings and consultants. Listen to what your heart and passion are telling you are your future career aspirations. Then find a few good schools who can help you achieve your dreams.
Suppose a candidate who “reconsiders his goals as they relate to a particular school” gains admission to that school. Two weeks after classes start and recruiters begin to hire on-campus, this student begins to realize that he either needs to look for work in line with his “reconsidered goal” or needs to focus on what he truly wants to do. However, if he focuses on the true passion there is no assistance at this highly ranked institution to help him chase his dreams. Now he becomes dis-enchanted with the school and the program. This discontent grows throughout his time at the institution. By graduation the student is unhappy and may not have a job – at least not one that meets his true goals. From this standpoint the school is unhappy as well. They now have an unhappy student, who is soon to be an un-happy alumnus. It is a lose/lose situation.
Candidates need to lose the “I need to get into the MBA Program with the highest ranking, highest starting salaries and highest employment number” mentality, and realize they really should be looking for the schools that will help them achieve their true dreams and goals.
By Ann Mallison
Associate Director of Admissions
Penn State Smeal MBA Program
Tags: admissions, business school, Community, Ethics, experience, job search, leadership, MBA, MBA application, MBA search, Penn State, Penn State MBA, Principled Leadership, Smeal, Smeal MBA, transformation
December 17th, 2013 - No Comments
On December 6, 2013 Penn State Smeal MBA Alumni met for a networking reception at Twist Restaurant & Tapas Bar in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta. The event was coordinated by Paul Poissant, Director of MBA Employer Relations. Our thanks to Paul and to all of the alumni who attended the event. A good time was had by all, and we look forward to alumni receptions in more cities in the new year!
December 16th, 2013 - No Comments
One of the most important things you can do as an MBA candidate (and later as a job candidate) is to set yourself apart from the crowd. What do YOU bring to the table that no one else does? How will YOU make an impact?
One way we encourage applicants to do this is to submit an optional video as part of the application. While not required, the 2 minute video allows the admissions committee to put a name with a face and make a more personal connection with the applicant. Submitting a video gives you a chance to go above and beyond what is required and present the committee with an additional piece of information about yourself.
1)We are NOT looking for professional level videos so don’t let technology scare you away from submitting a video!
2)Be yourself—remember, the purpose of the video is to get to know you better as an individual.
3)Don’t re-cap your application—tell us about something we CAN’T see in it already.
4)Follow directions regarding timing. We are looking for roughly 2 minutes (not 5).
5)Ask yourself if YOU would remember the video you submitted after watching 100 other videos from other applicants!
We wish you the best of luck in the admissions process and a happy holiday season!
–Stacey Dorang Peeler
December 6th, 2013 - No Comments
Elections were held last evening, and we are excited to welcome our new MBA Association Board.
President: Jason Miller
Vice President of Academic Affairs: Peter Greensmith
Vice President of Marketing/Communications: Brenda Cannizzaro
Vice President of Operations: Scott Robbins
Vice President of Corporate Relations: Edward Looper
Vice President of Finance: Apurv Vachhani
Vice President of International Affairs: Arun Singh
Vice President of Philanthropy: Elizabeth Guiley
Vice President of Recruitment: Ravindar Bose
We would like to share our gratitude with the out-going board members for all of their hard work and commitment in the past year! Thank you Matt, Dave, Mike, Moy, Josh, Ipsa, Bibs, Mallory and Nate!
November 15th, 2013 - No Comments
Today we welcome guest blogger, Tiffani Guerre. Tiffani is a 1st year MBA student with a Graduate Assistantship in the Diversity Enhancement Programs Office at the Penn State Smeal College of Business.
Diversity MBA Students give back to Diverse Undergrads
By Tiffani Guerre
In the diversity office, diverse MBA students are working to support diverse undergrads excel in their future careers. With a record high of 12 Diversity GA’s (Graduate Assistants) this school year, our efforts are being put to use.
With roles such as liaisons for undergraduate diversity enhancement organizations, teaching assistants, tutors, and mentors, we have a full plate. We work with organizations such as National Association for Black Accountants (NABA), Multicultural Women’s Forum (MWF), and ASCEND to name a few, to put on events that will help undergraduate students learn skills or obtain information about companies. One event in particular, hosted by NABA and MWF, was the Dress for Success Fashion show sponsored by Macy’s. This event educated students on the appropriate attire for career fairs, interviews, and business casual events in a fun and interactive way. We help with events like this to set students up on the right track at Smeal.
As well as helping behind the scenes, there are opportunities for us to step out in front of the audience and share our experiences for interested undergrads. The Multicultural Women’s Forum and Women in Business got together to host their annual Global Exchange with panels from Russia, Peru, Liberia, and Gambia! It was filled with a lot of cultural experiences whether it be music, food, and stories! Our very own Jenny Montague and Eric Clarke served on the panel and shared their experiences about their home countries. (Picture below)
In addition to supervising organizations, each GA offers their time to help students in other ways. One way we offer our help is tutoring students in undergraduate business courses. Students have come to us for tutoring in courses such as Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Accounting, etc. and we are able to lend our expertise. We also mentor students when it comes to career questions and guidance. Many undergrads come to us with questions about companies, industries they are looking to work in, and life after graduation. We are able to give our insights and advice as friends. The great thing is there is always someone there in the diversity office to support them until graduation.
November 8th, 2013 - No Comments
The Penn State Smeal MBA Program Office Team hosted a “fall craft night” for Housing Transitions on Monday night. Housing Transitions is a Centre County non-profit which can assist with different housing needs for those facing crisis or hardship. A great time was had by the children in the community and our volunteers. We are looking forward to doing it again next year!
October 27th, 2013 - No Comments
Sometime over the course of your education or career you may have heard someone say, “there’s no such thing as a stupid question!”. Generally, that’s true. GENERALLY. It’s good to be inquisitive, and it can take a lot of courage to ask a question about a topic you may not know anything about. People are experts in different things, and part of life is learning from each other and the world around us. However, that being said, there are questions that are asked during an interview that—while not “stupid questions”—are probably not the best use of your time with the interviewer.
By the time you have been invited to an admissions interview, you should have already done significant research on the program you are applying to—why else would you have applied? It is taken for granted that you already know where the program is located, roughly how big the class size is, what the tuition rates are and the basics about what that the school has to offer. Anything you can find with one click of a mouse or a 10 second Google search should not be how you use the precious moments your interviewer gives you to ask questions.
You SHOULD be prepared with some questions for the person interviewing you, as not only is the school deciding if they want to admit you, but you need to be deciding if YOU want to go to the school. Don’t ask questions just for the sake of asking something, ask questions that you can’t find the answers to anywhere else (like on a website or a discussion board).
Examples of questions you shouldn’t need to ask by the time you interview:
-Where is your school located exactly? (I’m not kidding—I’ve had this question! If you have no idea where we are, how do you know anything else about us?)
-How many people are in your incoming class? (I’ve never come across a school that doesn’t list this on their website—hopefully you know if you want to be in a class of 100 or 700 by the time you get to the interview phase)
-What’s your tuition? (Again, public information)
-What kind of concentrations/areas of study do you have? (This should be something you research LONG before you hit the submit button on your application)
Examples of GOOD questions to ask:
-What do you consider the strengths and challenges of the program/college/university? (Gives you a chance to delve deeper into what may or may not be public knowledge)
-What is it like to live in XXX town as a graduate student? (The admissions person likely also lives near the school and can give you first hand perspective on what living there is like!)
-I’m bringing a family, will they have a support system and be comfortable if I choose your school?
-Is anything missing from my application? (Good to double check!)
-Do you have recommendations for resources I can consult to learn more about your program? (Shows you really have interest in determining if a program is the BEST one for you!)
If you ask a question the interviewer CAN’T answer, ask them if they can connect you with someone who can answer it (they should offer up front before you even ask).
Depending on your situation, you may or may not have had most of your questions about a school answered by the time of the interview. Just remember, the interview is a golden opportunity to get even more information that’s hard to find by just reading a brochure or visiting a website or social media platform. Use that opportunity wisely!
–Stacey Dorang Peeler