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Journey to my MBA

Thursday, September 21, 2006

B-School App Product Review: School profile Guides are a must when applying to B-School

The most important thing that you need to have under your belt when applying to Business School is to know the school inside and out.

When your writing your Why MBA essay, you have to be able to comment on some very specific details about the school that only come after you've done a significant amount of research into the school. For example, Harvard Business School has a strong emphasis on leadership. But how does that play into infusing this idea into all other areas of the school? The culture, programs, institutes, teaching style, and class topics have all been created to infuse this quality into students. Can you give a rock solid answer as to how they do this in an interview? How about your essays?

Recently, (Admissions Consulting Firm) released a new product called the, "School Guides." These 30-35 page e-Books cover the material in a concise manner. Call it the "Insider's Cliff Notes" to Business School.

I had a look at the Chicago one and it was pretty good. It covered topics such as:
1) Program Highlights
2) Academic Programs
3) Core/Electives/Curriculum/Grading
4) International notes on how Chicago is stretching it's wings and holds study abroad programs
5) Life at Chicago
6) Admissions
7) Financing

Most of these do sound very general and much of this core info can be found on the Chicago GSB web sites. The difference is in the way these are written. It highlights and words the info to help you see how certain areas are uniquely designed and developed for the school. Clearadmit leverages the information they've gained from their years of highly successful Admissions Consulting, their own in-house experience (Alex Brown was the former Sr. Admissions Director at Wharton up until a couple of years ago as some of you may recall). With nothing to hide and nothing to overgeneralize about so that they don't offend anyone, they put key relevant info into these guides.

They currently have school guides for:

University of Chicago Graduate School of Business
Offers in-depth information about life at the GSB, including Chicago's flexible core curriculum, additional campuses and International MBA program. (36 pages)

Columbia School of Business
Presents details of Columbia's MBA program, including campus visit information, domestic and international exchange programs, and the on-campus recruiting process. (33 pages)

Harvard Business School
Includes comprehensive information on Harvard's case method of instruction, experiential learning programs, campus facilities and student clubs. (43 pages)

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College
Contains detailed coverage of Tuck's program, including its rigorous general management curriculum, close-knit community and career placement statistics. (32 pages)

Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania
Provides expert information on Wharton's academic and social opportunities, including the healthcare management major, Lauder dual degree program, MBA Pub and Wharton Follies. (37 pages)

Dave's Recommendation:
No matter what you do in your application journey, you need to have a school profile or school guide for every B-School you are applying to. I did create my own profiles for each school. Each one took me between 5-9 hours to create and are about 30-50 pages just like these guides. If you are really lacking in time and you don't know what kind of info you should be becoming intimate with, then perhaps these guides are for you.

The amount of info one has to get ones arms around in applying to B-School is pretty astounding. I can still remembering not knowing where to start and hoping that someone could be honest enough with me to tell me the key things that I needed to know. The MBA application world is not like what it was 3 and 4 years ago.

If it's hard to read through the marketing language of the school web sites, then it might be a good idea to order one of these and go from there to see if you can create the rest on your own, or let ClearAdmit do most of the work for you. To find out more info, go here

No matter what, I better hear that you have a school profile report for each school that you'll be applying to and that you're memorizing key areas of it for your interviews.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just purchased Clear Admit's HBS guide and I am convinced that there are better ways to spend $30.

Of course, if you are a novice and are not aware of HBS' education philosophy, which by the way is mentioned right on their home page, then sure, go ahead and buy the guide.

10:49 AM  
Blogger Dave for MBA said...

Sorry to hear that anonymous. I know that they've been selling quite well and that many others have been giving pretty good reviews. If you're really that unhappy, you should talk to them directly. I don't get a commission or referral fee for this guys. I'd appreciate more comments from others who purchase this. If you're really unhappy, I'm confident that they'll work something out with you.

I just conversed with them for you and I was assured that they'd take care of you to your satisfaction.

10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Dave I've written to them with my feedback and I hope my input will go in some way to improve the guide for subsequent versions.

Absolutely no offense intended about you mentioning it on CA's behalf on your blog and in no way was I suggesting that you benefited from this. I apologize for any inappropriate connotation my comments would have had. Thank you for working on this one-stop MBA resource for which applicants can never thank you enough.

4:06 AM  
Blogger RDX said...

Hey Dave,

While I agree with most of what you have written, I would like to add that these reports can never substitute a read through the school websites.

I recently bought one for CBS to compare how much I know vs. how much they do. To be honest, the level of information is quite generic and some very important stuff about the college is omitted altogether.

I agree that these guides can form a useful (& balanced) platform for launching a more detailed research on each college but I doubt they can ever be a one-stop solution.

Also, I noticed that you take 5-9 hours per college. That's amazing!! Its taking me way more per college (I am on my second one). While subsequent college research might get faster, I dont think I can scope out any college in that much time. Please do share some tips. More specifically, could you tell me what exactly you looked at in each college?



10:28 PM  

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