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March 17, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Dealing with a Ding

With many MBA programs beginning to release their R2 decisions, the spring notification season will soon be coming to a close.  While we would like to hope that today’s topic isn’t apropos for too many of our readers, we wanted to offer some advice to applicants who’ve been rejected from their preferred programs and are planning on reapplying next season.  While it’s important to take some time to deal with the disappointment, it’s never too early to begin thinking about the next season, and there are a number of steps you can take to improve your candidacy and move toward a stronger application.

1) Reevaluate.  While it’s certainly difficult when things don’t go as planned, this is actually a great chance to take stock of your career and goals and to make sure that an MBA is still a logical and necessary step at this point.  It’s this sort of reflection that can lead to refined career goals and a clearer sense of the reasons you need a business education.

2) Revisit your applications.  Once you’ve gained some distance from the emotional and time-consuming application process, it’s wise to review the materials you submitted to the schools with a critical eye.  Having learned much about the process simply by applying, it’s likely that you’ll be able to identify a number of things that you could have done better.  Whether you suspect your downfall was something like a strategic misstep in an essay or interview or a more glaring weakness like a low GMAT or lack of extracurricular involvement, there is plenty of time to address your shortcomings before submitting an application next year.

3) Consider your data points.  Your results this year may reflect some valuable information about your competitiveness at a top program.  It’s important that you only apply to schools that you would be happy attending, but if you were unsuccessful at all of the programs to which you applied, it might be time to think about how realistic your list of target schools was and to add a few more to the mix.  This is especially true for applicants who only applied to one or two programs this time around; there is an element of randomness and luck in the admissions process, and no matter how qualified the applicant, we recommend that a candidate target four to six programs to have a strong chance of success.

4) Schedule a feedback session, if applicable.  While it’s possible that you’ve identified your weaknesses in retrospect or even were aware of them when you went into the process, if you’ve been denied by a school that offers feedback to applicants and are planning on reapplying, you should absolutely take advantage of this opportunity to learn of the adcom’s perspective and demonstrate your commitment to the program.  In fact, reapplying without seeking feedback when offered can raise questions for the adcom about how seriously an applicant is taking the process and the school.  Of course, some schools do not offer feedback to anyone and others, such as Tuck, selectively offer feedback only to particularly promising candidates.  There is naturally high demand for this service at programs that provide slots on a first-come, first-served basis, so it’s important that you make a point of requesting a feedback session at the earliest possible time.

Of course, the adcom can only be so candid, and it’s important to seek out feedback from other objective and knowledgeable sources.  Contact our office for more information about our tailored application feedback and reapplicant advice.

Related articles

About Clear Admit:

Ivey Consulting is proud to partner with Clear Admit to provide comprehensive admissions information and consulting services to business school applicants. Learn more about Clear Admit here.

March 17, 2014

52 Weeks to College: Week 38 -- I Got In! How Do I Decide Where to Go?

Decision season. And the happiest of news has come to you. You got in! Even better, you got in to more than one college. What college will be your alma mater? That is your decision now. It is an important one, but it is not an easy one. This week we give you some ideas for how to evaluate your offers of admission and make your decision.

Week 38 To-Dos

Every Week

  • Check your email, voicemail, texts, and snail mail for any communications that relate to applying to college. Read them and take whatever action is necessary. 
  • Update your parents about what you’re doing. This regular communication will work wonders in your relationship with your parents during this stress-filled year.  

This Week 

  • Stay on top of school work -- senioritis often sets in right about now. Remember that all offers of admission are conditioned are your successful completion of high school!
  • Begin evaluating your choices for college.
  • Schedule/plan your post-acceptance visits.

Tips & Tricks

1. Evaluate your offers of admission with "fit" in mind.

Which of the colleges that have offered you admission is the best fit for you? Which meets your criteria the best? Where will you thrive? One decision making strategy that works well for many is to "chart it out." It is a strategy that forces you to take a step back and really evaluate what you want and what they offer. Click here for a how-to guide to using this strategy. You have until April 29th, then you are probably suffering from the decision paralysis induced by a case of perfectionism.  You are worried about making the right decision, when you should be focused on making a good decision.  As is often the case in life, there may not be one right decision here.  So you have to accept that and focus on making a good decision.  On April 29th, sit down and do the chart one last time, review it with a trusted advisor, and then accept the college that is the winner, resting easy that you've made a thoughtfully considered, well reasoned, GOOD decision!! 

2. Evaluate your offers of admission with "affordability" in mind.

Once you receive your financial aid award letter, you can evaluate how your offers of admission stack up in terms of affordability. Don't just think about whether you can afford to attend for the first year; think about whether you can afford to attend for as long as it will take you to graduate. Be sure and read the fine print of your award letter to determine whether your financial aid will be renewable each year you are in college and what, if any, conditions there are regarding renewal of your financial aid award after the first year. Once you have all the information, sit down with your parents and determine whether you can really afford to attend each college where you have been admitted. Being stressed about money is not conducive to having a great experience at college, so be realistic in your evaluation. 

3. Be alert to being overinfluenced by others as you make your decisions.

By others, we mean anyone but you -- parents, teachers, friends, random strangers, heroes, U.S. News ranking staff, the great college recruiter. All of these people may mean well and all of these people may have important input, but at the end of the day, this is your decision. Be a grown-up and make the decision informed by, but not determined by, the counsel of others.

About the Authors:

Alison Cooper Chisolm heads the college admissions consulting practice at Ivey Consulting. She came to private consulting after working in admissions for more than 10 years at three selective universities (Southern Methodist University, University of Chicago, and Dartmouth College).

Anna Ivey is the former Dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School and founded Ivey Consulting to help college, law school, and MBA applicants navigate the admissions process and make smart choices about higher education.

You can find more college admissions tips in their book How to Prepare a Standout College Application (Wiley 2013), and follow them on Twitter and Facebook

About the 52 Weeks to College Series:

52 Weeks to College is a week-by-week plan for applying to college. It breaks this complex and difficult project down into weekly to-do lists with supporting tips and tricks for getting it all done. Based on the Master Plan for applying to college found in our book, How to Prepare a Standout College Application52 Weeks to College is designed for any applicant who intends to apply to top U.S. colleges. For those of you who are just discovering the 52 Weeks series and want to catch up, click here.

March 10, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Extracurricular Activities

Because it’s the time of year when applicants aiming for Fall 2015 intake are just beginning to think about the admissions process, we wanted to focus today on one element of the application that candidates often underestimate: extracurricular activities.

In order to understand why this category is important, candidates should keep in mind that the adcom is responsible for crafting a dynamic class each year.  The aim is to admit individuals who will support a vibrant campus community and step into leadership positions.  In other words, as admissions officers consider each applicant, they ask themselves “what’s in it for our school?”  An applicant who has previously demonstrated a talent for writing, for example, by contributing to a nonprofit’s newsletter, will really catch the adcom’s attention if she also expresses her intent to contribute to a specific publication on campus.

Volunteering is of course a great way to expand one’s extracurricular involvement.  However, many applicants participate in the occasional fundraising walk or an annual corporate outreach day; those who demonstrate ongoing involvement in one cause or organization will be of special interest to the admissions committee, especially if it is related to their current or future career.  A candidate who has contributed over a longer period is likely to have developed his or her responsibilities beyond ladling soup or stuffing envelopes.  What’s more, this can be a particularly important opportunity for applicants who are currently living and working outside of their home countries; for example, an Indian applicant who works and volunteers in Africa will stand out as being particularly engaged and well adapted to his or her foreign environment.

Candidates who are older or younger than the average applicant should recognize that their extracurricular involvement is particularly important.  A younger applicant who lacks leadership responsibilities at work might demonstrate his talent for motivating others outside of the office.  Meanwhile, older applicants can use their extracurricular involvement to reassure the adcom that, despite family responsibilities or distance in age from one’s classmates, the broader life of the community remains important to them.

Lastly, applicants will have a much easier time writing their application essays if they have a variety of experiences from which to draw.  While applicants can certainly respond to most essay prompts by reflecting on their professional experiences, relying exclusively on one’s work is a mistake.  With each essay, the applicant should aim to share a different side of him or herself—submitting five essays about electrical engineering or investment banking is not the most effective way to do this.

We hope that this sheds some light on the opportunities and value that activities outside of work provide with respect to one’s b-school candidacy and applications.  Should you find that area of your application lacking upon reflection, the good news is that there’s still plenty of time to address this before the deadlines.  Whether that means volunteering your professional services to a local nonprofit, joining a community mentoring organization or brushing up on your competitive square dancing, Class of 2016 aspirants should aim to make this an especially active and productive spring and summer!

Get in touch with our team for a free assessment of your candidacy as the admissions season begins.

Related articles

About Clear Admit:

Ivey Consulting is proud to partner with Clear Admit to provide comprehensive admissions information and consulting services to business school applicants. Learn more about Clear Admit here.

March 10, 2014

52 Weeks to College: Week 37 -- I Got Denied, Now What?

Ah decision season. The highs and the lows. There really isn't any way around the roller coaster ride that comes with getting the news from the colleges on your list. That being said, knowing what to do once you get the news can make the roller coaster ride a little less scary. Since the lows are what most fear, we'll start by walking you through what you should do if you are denied. Beyond preparing yourself for the news that is soon to arrive, you don't have much to do this week except staying on top of your school work and handling items related to financial aid. 

Week 37 To-Dos

Every Week

  • Check your email, voicemail, texts, and snail mail for any communications that relate to applying to college. Read them and take whatever action is necessary. 
  • Update your parents about what you’re doing. This regular communication will work wonders in your relationship with your parents during this stress-filled year.  

This Week 

  • Stay on top of school work -- senioritis often sets in right about now. 
  • Check for and apply for scholarships -- this is the season for essay contests and such. Every $1000 helps!  
  • Interview for scholarships.
  • Update financial aid forms with current year tax information as soon as taxes are filed.
  • Confirm that all necessary financial aid documentation has been received by the colleges.

Tips & Tricks

1. Wallow in your misery for a short time and then move on.

Being denied by a college where you applied feels bad. So let yourself feel bad for a little bit. Allow yourself as much as 48 hours to rant, rave, cry, or just retire to your room. Do whatever you need to do to “feel your pain.”  We're not being flip here (okay maybe a little flip), but we do mean it when we say it is good to let yourself dwell in your disappointment for a defined but short period of time – it is a time honored method that supports ongoing mental and emotional health.  You just don’t want to get stuck here.  It is not productive and it is not healthy.

After your limited wallow, you’ve got to exit your feelings and move into action.  Preferably positive, constructive action.  What’s that?  Well, in our experience, for the vast majority of applicants, it is moving on to choose amongst the colleges that said yes. Let’s face it: hundreds of thousands of people are leading happy, successful lives even though they didn't get into their first choice college either! (This is of course a secret that admissions professionals try to keep you from ever knowing, but it is empirically true. No question.)  In fact, there are probably some great choices in the set of colleges that said yes. So why would you spend your energy on the college that said no rather than invest in YOUR FUTURE?  Move on, it’s time.

2. If you want a "second chance" at being admitted, there are three ways to go about it.

First, you might be able to appeal the decision.  But really, we can’t advise it. Why? Statistically it is a waste of time. In our collective years of experience as admissions officers, none of us can name a time when a decision was reversed. Thousands of decisions; most (70-90%) of them rejections; none of them reversed. The math isn't hard. Appeals are not worth the energy.

Second, you could elect to take a gap year, fortify your credentials during that year and re-apply. Odds are still against you, but we've seen applicants do some really remarkable things during a gap year and change their profiles sufficiently that they are offered admission the second time around.

Finally, you can start college somewhere else and work toward transferring. Depending upon the college, you may find that it is relatively harder or relatively easier to be admitted as a transfer than it was to be admitted as a freshman. If the odds are higher AND you have a great first two years of college, then transferring is a viable option to consider.

3. If you are denied everywhere you apply, then you'll have to regroup quickly and pursue one of the options available -- yes there are options available.

Ouch.  It is a brutal reality that you confront when you are denied everywhere you applied. You're probably feeling pretty shaken up and disoriented.  You may also be a bit mystified by how you got here.  All of that is perfectly understandable. If you find yourself in that circumstance, then you obviously have to take a moment to regroup and consider your options. But as you regroup, remember life isn’t over and you can go onto a perfectly wonderful future.  So dust yourself off and get back in the game.

Option #1:  Go to college in the fall.  It is still a possibility.  Many colleges have a “rolling decision” policy and accept applications until their classes are filled.  There are more than 200 colleges with a “rolling decision” policy that accept the Common Application.  Find them by checking out the deadlines on the application requirements chart prepared by the Common App.  You can find more colleges with later application deadlines by doing some online research or stopping by the college counseling office at your high school.  In addition, open enrollment colleges, like community colleges, often take applications up to the first day of class.

Option #2:  Take a do-over.  Want to take another stab at the whole college application process?  If so, we recommend that you do some deep analysis of what went wrong this time.  Then set about doing it differently -- take a gap year, fortify your credentials during that year and apply to a broader range of colleges next year.  

About the Authors:

Alison Cooper Chisolm heads the college admissions consulting practice at Ivey Consulting. She came to private consulting after working in admissions for more than 10 years at three selective universities (Southern Methodist University, University of Chicago, and Dartmouth College).

Anna Ivey is the former Dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School and founded Ivey Consulting to help college, law school, and MBA applicants navigate the admissions process and make smart choices about higher education.

You can find more college admissions tips in their book How to Prepare a Standout College Application (Wiley 2013), and follow them on Twitter and Facebook

About the 52 Weeks to College Series:

52 Weeks to College is a week-by-week plan for applying to college. It breaks this complex and difficult project down into weekly to-do lists with supporting tips and tricks for getting it all done. Based on the Master Plan for applying to college found in our book, How to Prepare a Standout College Application52 Weeks to College is designed for any applicant who intends to apply to top U.S. colleges. For those of you who are just discovering the 52 Weeks series and want to catch up, click here.

March 3, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Planning for the GMAT

For all you “early birds” who are planning to apply to business school this fall, we wanted to offer a few tips on managing your time as it relates to the GMAT exam.  Because this is an important element for many applicants in determining at which schools they will be competitive, it’s best to prep intensively and get this out of the way early in the process.

You should ideally be finished with the GMAT by mid-summer.  The reason for this is that you will want to reserve the months of August, September and October for essay writing, school visits, managing your recommenders and other miscellaneous application-related tasks.  The last thing you want to be doing in September is juggling the demands of GMAT prep alongside your MBA applications, your responsibilities at work, your extracurricular involvements, etc.

Of course, putting the GMAT to rest by mid-summer is much easier said than done.  Given the strength of the test-taking pool and the importance of earning a high score when targeting a top program, in order to be successful, you should ideally budget time for a GMAT prep course or 8 to 12 weeks of solid self-study.  You should then consider the fact that you may need to take the exam more than once.

Given these considerations, here is a rough schedule to follow:

April, May: Attend a GMAT prep class and spend as much as 2 hours each weekday doing problems; use the weekends to take full-length tests (under realistic, timed conditions).

June: Take the GMAT early in the month.  If you are unsatisfied with your score, work towards taking the exam again.  Ideally, you’ll take a short break of one to two weeks (to clear your mind) and then leave at least four weeks to prep for the second sitting of the exam.  Consider hiring a tutor to address your specific needs.

July: Take the GMAT again, hopefully achieving a score that is within the range of the MBA programs on your list.  If your score doesn’t improve, it may be time to reevaluate your target schools and expand your roster to ensure that your selection is realistic.

In some cases, it may make sense to mirror your work on the GMAT by simultaneously enrolling in a calculus or statistics class at your local university or community college.  While this is especially true for applicants who have a weak track record in quantitative subjects and need to build an alternative transcript, in general these classes can often help applicants get the most out of their GMAT preparation.

Good luck!  For more information about how the GMAT fits into the application process and on business schools in general, feel free to contact Clear Admit to learn about our early bird planning services or set up an initial consultation.  You can also download Clear Admit’s independent guide to the leading test preparation companies.  This FREE guide includes coupons for discounts on test prep services at 10 different firms!

 

About Clear Admit:

Ivey Consulting is proud to partner with Clear Admit to provide comprehensive admissions information and consulting services to business school applicants. Learn more about Clear Admit here.

March 3, 2014

Applying This Fall? Start Prepping Now for the LSAT

What's the ideal LSAT timeline? Your mileage may vary, and your LSAT instructor will be able to give you advice customized to your individual situation. But in a perfect world, here's how I like to work backwards from the end goal:

Plan to submit your applications in early November (or even sooner, but early November is plenty early). In order to maximize the time you have on your applications, and to let your brain focus on — and master — one thing at a time, that November submission date means I like to see people take the LSAT the February before that.

However, I find that many applicants aren't paying much attention to their application timelines that early (you'd have to start prepping for the February test in the previous calendar year), so what's the next best alternative if you plan on submitting this fall and you didn't take the February test? Easy: Take the June test. Do not wait until October. And that means you must start thinking about your LSAT prep timeline right now.

Why so early? A couple of reasons:

1. The LSAT is ridiculously important to admissions outcomes. 

Your combined LSAT + undergraduate record are very likely to have the biggest impact on your admissions results. Other factors matter too — and for the most competitive schools, those other "soft" factors must be excellent as well — but in the hierarchy of factors, LSAT + undergraduate record sit at the top. You might hear people suggest that you can write your way around poor numbers, or you might hear a recommender say he has so much pull with a school that he can get you in. Yes, the rest of the application does matter. Yes, having the right connections sometimes helps. But I would advise healthy skepticism.

Of course there are outliers for everything, including law school admissions, and there are people out there whose life stories are so improbable and impressive, or whose immediate network has such pull, that their numbers become secondary. Even in that case, though, they can't be bad numbers (where "bad" numbers are relative to a given school's normal pool).

In particular, many parents tell me how "unique" their children are and that therefore their sub-par numbers won't matter so much. Oof! There's a 99% chance their children will learn the hard way that their parents are simply wrong. From an admissions officer's perspective, there are a lot and lots of unique snowflakes out there.

Because the LSAT is such an important factor in admissions outcomes, don't coast on your ostensible "uniqueness." 

2. The LSAT is hard. 

For most people, the LSAT is not just a cognitively challenging test, but also a test of endurance, time management, and anxiety management. Those are all mental muscles you need to build during your training period, and that's not a process that happens overnight. It can take time to work yourself into the necessary LSAT zen state. Never walk into an LSAT unprepared. Take the test very seriously, and give yourself enough time to reach your maximum performance. For some people, that means two months of intensive, consistent training. For others, it's more. Train like an elite athlete... and like a Zen Buddhist!

3. Working with a real score is better than working with a fantasy score. 

You'll get your score back in late June, and then you can spend July, August, and September (with October for cushion) working on all the other parts of your application with the benefit of your score. That last part matters, because it's very hard to know what law schools you should be shooting for without an actual LSAT score, and your particular list of schools can affect your positioning in your applications, what kind of essays you write, if and where you apply Early Decision, etc. If I had a dollar for every time an applicant has told me, "I'm getting 175's on my practice tests, and I'm confident I'll score in the 170's, so let's plan around that," I'd be sipping pink-umbrella cocktails on my private island somewhere. You're much better served working off of an actual LSAT score rather than the one you fantasize about.

 

That's the perfect world timeline. We don't live in a perfect world, of course, so a lot of people take the LSAT for the first time in October. Best case scenario: the score turns out to be good, but they have to wait until the end of October to get their score back, and that pushes back their timeline for the other components of the application (and important application strategizing, which is impossible to do without the score).

Another possible scenario: You wait until October to take the test, you aren't happy with the score (or wig out and postpone, or wig out and cancel), retake it in December, and then have to wait until the following January for your score. January is awfully late in the game to be applying (and by then you've also missed Early Decision opportunities), and in the meantime, you're trying to pull your applications together without even knowing what schools you'll be competitive for. It's an option, but it's far from ideal. I don't recommend it.

So for those of you who will be submitting your applications early in the coming season, now's the time to get up to your elbows in LSAT prep. Dedicate the next couple of months to slaying that dragon, and then turn your full attention to all the other application components.

 

Former Dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School and a recovering lawyer, Anna Ivey founded Ivey Consulting to help college, law school, and MBA applicants navigate the admissions process. You can find more admissions tips in The Ivey Guide to Law School Admissions. Join the conversation here in the blog comments and on Twitter and Facebook, or email us a new question for the blog.

March 3, 2014

52 Weeks to College: Week 36 -- Decisions Are Coming, It's Time to Prepare Yourself

T.S. Eliot famously claimed that April was the “cruelest month,” but we beg to differ. At least when it comes to the year when you are applying to college, March is definitely the “cruelest month.” It is nothing but waiting, waiting, waiting, which is leads to nothing but awful anxiety. Our solution? Translate all your understandable anxiety into some productive action. You can use the time for all the final things you have to do related to financial aid and to prepare yourself for the decisions YOU are going to have to make in April.  This week’s tips and tricks are all about how to turn the cruelest month into a really productive month. Isn’t that better?

Week 36 To-Dos

Every Week

  • Check your email, voicemail, texts, and snail mail for any communications that relate to applying to college. Read them and take whatever action is necessary.
  • Update your parents about what you’re doing. This regular communication will work wonders in your relationship with your parents during this stress-filled year.  

This Week 

  • Check for and apply for scholarships -- this is the season for essay contests and such. Every $1000 helps!  
  • Interview for scholarships.
  • Update financial aid forms with current year tax information as soon as taxes are filed.
  • Confirm that all necessary financial aid documentation has been received by the colleges.
  • Identify when you could make 2-3 post-acceptance visits to colleges in April and mark those off on your calendar.

Tips & Tricks

1) Solve your financial aid issues now so you get an award along with your acceptance.

For the colleges, the financial aid process is independent of the admissions process. For you, they are intimately related and interdependent. That asymmetry is why you have to be on the ball when it comes to the financial aid process right now. You will receive your financial aid award at or near the same time you receive your admissions decision IF AND ONLY IF you have done everything required by the financial aid process at the college. That means you need to be as vigilant and diligent when it comes to following up with your financial aid application and documentation as you have been with your admissions application.

2) Refine your criteria for your "right fit" colleges – you know more now.

Months ago, you decided where to apply to college based on some criteria that you developed about the “right fit” colleges for you. The criteria most likely included things like location, programs/majors available, and the overall college vibe. It is time to revisit these criteria and refine them based on what you have learned over the last several months – both about yourself and about the colleges on your list. Maybe you were certain that you were going to pursue Biology last summer, but your AP Psychology class has made you rethink that.  What kind of Psychology program do the colleges on your list have? Check them out. Maybe you were committed to attending college closer to home, but once you visited some of the colleges that were further away, you’ve changed your mind about how important proximity to home is.  Take some time to reflect on what you’ve learned in the last several months and refine your list of criteria accordingly. Once you’ve refined your criteria, gather information about how the colleges on your list stack up to your new criteria.

3) Re-open your mind – make a list of pros for every college on your list. 

By now, you probably have rank ordered the colleges on your list. You have a top choice college and then some runners-up and then several that you have written off. Comparing and rating the colleges on your list is a necessary step in your decision making process, but you probably did it very early and haven’t reconsidered your ranking since. That is a mistake. As noted in the first tip, you have learned, grown, and changed through the course of this process. You need to re-open your mind and consider how all that may have changed your thinking with regard to the colleges on your list. Now is the time for that rethink. Otherwise, you run the risk of making a bad decision when it comes to choosing where to enroll – you pick the college that has been your top choice since you were a sophomore, even though it really doesn’t suit you much now. Not good. While you are rethinking how the colleges on your list compare, try a little positive attitude shift. Come up with a set of pros for every college and redeem the colleges you have written off. This simple act will reduce your anxiety – after all, if you have 10 good choices, then it isn’t soooooooo essential that you get into one or the other, is it? Furthermore, it will put you in the right frame of mind for making your ultimate choice.

4) Post-acceptance visits are extremely valuable and worth making.

You probably have not visited all of the colleges where you applied. In fact, you may not have visited any of them. We are actually of the opinion that you don’t need to visit before you apply, because you can do a lot of great research and evaluation without visiting. But once it comes down to choosing where to enroll, we strongly encourage you to make post-acceptance visits to your top two or three choices. Nothing beats a visit for helping you make the right choice. Even if you have visited one or more of the colleges before, you will see a college through different eyes once you’ve been accepted there.  We guarantee it.  Many colleges host special events for admitted students, but if you can’t attend one of those, don’t hesitate to schedule an individual visit. When making a post-acceptance visit, be sure and include attending a class, checking out the residential experience, and many some students so you can get a real sense of what it would be like to spend four years there.  Your ultimate choice will be more informed and clearer after a post-acceptance visit, so look to your April calendar now and decide when you can make these visits.

About the Authors:

Alison Cooper Chisolm heads the college admissions consulting practice at Ivey Consulting. She came to private consulting after working in admissions for more than 10 years at three selective universities (Southern Methodist University, University of Chicago, and Dartmouth College).

Anna Ivey is the former Dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School and founded Ivey Consulting to help college, law school, and MBA applicants navigate the admissions process and make smart choices about higher education.

You can find more college admissions tips in their book How to Prepare a Standout College Application (Wiley 2013), and follow them on Twitter and Facebook

About the 52 Weeks to College Series:

52 Weeks to College is a week-by-week plan for applying to college. It breaks this complex and difficult project down into weekly to-do lists with supporting tips and tricks for getting it all done. Based on the Master Plan for applying to college found in our book, How to Prepare a Standout College Application52 Weeks to College is designed for any applicant who intends to apply to top U.S. colleges. For those of you who are just discovering the 52 Weeks series and want to catch up, click here.

February 25, 2014

52 Weeks to College: Week 35--When and How Colleges Notify You of Their Admissions Decisions

Waiting, waiting, and still more waiting. That’s what February and March are about when it comes to college admissions. When will the waiting be over? When will the college where you have applied notify you of their decisions? How will they notify you? Fat envelope means good news, fact or fiction? These are the questions inquiring applicants have on their minds right now and they are the questions we show you how to find the answers for in this week’s tips and tricks.

Week 35 To-Dos

Every Week

  • Check your email, voicemail, texts, and snail mail for any communications that relate to applying to college. Read them and take whatever action is necessary.
  • Update your parents about what you’re doing. This regular communication will work wonders in your relationship with your parents during this stress-filled year.  

This Week 

  • Research notification dates and methods for the colleges on your list.

Tips & Tricks

Finding out when and how you will be notified of a college’s admissions decision is a pretty straightforward research task. Start by checking your correspondence from the college. Very often, the college includes the information in their post-submission correspondence to you. If you can’t find it there, then try this simple Google search: “notification date” admission [name of college]. The most reliable information will be on the college’s website, so scan the search results for the college’s URL first. Even if there isn’t any official information, your search will probably turn up a conversation thread on College Confidential or some other college admissions related website that will give you some information. Of course, remember to consider the source. The only information you can DEPEND on is information from the college itself.

If the college has given you a link and log in information for an applicant portal or website where you can find out the college’s admissions decision, TEST IT before the big day. Your meltdown when you encounter technical difficulties on decision day will be EPIC. Guaranteed. So, test your log in now and avoid the epic meltdown.

The “Fat Envelope” is still most often a signal that “good news” lies within, but in the 21st century, you rarely have to wait for the envelope to arrive in order to know whether you have been admitted or not. The majority of colleges will either notify you by email or post your admissions decision on your applicant website on the day that the “envelopes” go in the snail mail. There are, however, a few colleges that still notify ONLY by snail mail and for those the “Fat Envelope” is what you want to see!

About the Authors:

Alison Cooper Chisolm heads the college admissions consulting practice at Ivey Consulting. She came to private consulting after working in admissions for more than 10 years at three selective universities (Southern Methodist University, University of Chicago, and Dartmouth College).

Anna Ivey is the former Dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School and founded Ivey Consulting to help college, law school, and MBA applicants navigate the admissions process and make smart choices about higher education.

You can find more college admissions tips in their book How to Prepare a Standout College Application (Wiley 2013), and follow them on Twitter and Facebook

About the 52 Weeks to College Series:

52 Weeks to College is a week-by-week plan for applying to college. It breaks this complex and difficult project down into weekly to-do lists with supporting tips and tricks for getting it all done. Based on the Master Plan for applying to college found in our book, How to Prepare a Standout College Application52 Weeks to College is designed for any applicant who intends to apply to top U.S. colleges. For those of you who are just discovering the 52 Weeks series and want to catch up, click here.

February 24, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Late Round Considerations

After a relatively sleepy February, March will soon be upon us with its extensive list of application deadlines and decision notification dates.  Let’s take a look at part of the long list of Round 3 (or 4 or 5) deadlines spread over the next two months:

March 3rd: Ross R3 (11:59pm EST)

March 5th: INSEAD R3 (11:59pm CET)

March 7th: Judge R3 (5:00pm UTC)

March 12th: Haas R3 (11:59pm PST)

March 14th: UNC R4 (5:00pm EST)

March 14th: Oxford R4 (11:59pm GMT)

March 15th: Tepper R3 (11:59pm EST)

March 15th: Stern R4 (11:59pm EST)

March 20th: Fuqua R3 (11:59pm EST)

March 27th: Darden R3 (5:00pm EST)

March 27th: Wharton R3 (5:00pm EST)

March 27th: McCombs R3 (11:59pm CST)

April 1st: Georgetown R3 (11:59pm EST)

April 2nd: Stanford R3 (5:00pm PST)

April 2nd: Tuck R4 (5:00pm EST)

April 2nd: Kellogg R3 (11:59pm CST)

April 4th: Booth R3 (5:00pm CST)

April 7th: HBS R3 (11:59pm PST)

April 9th: CBS Regular Decision (11:59pm EST)

April 15th: Anderson R3 (11:59pm PST)

April 24th: Yale SOM R3 (5:00pm EST)

April 25th: Judge R4 (5:00pm UTC)

April 25th: Oxford R5 (11:59pm GMT)

May 30th: Oxford R6 (11:59pm GMT)

While it’s always best to apply as early as possible, the difference between applying in Round 1 and applying in Round 2 is, for most applicants, a marginal one.  However, the later rounds are a very different game.  Because most of the seats in the incoming class will have been given away by the time Round 2 decisions are released, the acceptance rate in the third round is dramatically lower than that for the first two deadlines of the season.

To maximize your chances of a later round acceptance, demonstrating your interest in the school and submitting thoughtful and error-free written materials will be crucial.  Applying in Round 1 is generally taken as a sign of interest in a given program, and by the same token, applicants submitting their materials in a later round need to work extra hard to convince the adcom that they are genuinely interested in the school and are not simply applying as an afterthought because interview invitations didn’t come through in Round 2. Demonstrating that you would make a valuable contribution to the community and providing evidence that you have taken steps to engage current students and alumni will work to your advantage.

As always, we’d like to recommend the in-depth Clear Admit School Guides to those applicants who are targeting the later deadlines and just beginning to investigate certain programs, and we encourage those who’ve visited the campus and interviewed to share their experiences in Clear Admit Interview Reports.  Potential R3 or R4 applicants are also welcome to contact Clear Admit directly to discuss the strength of their later round candidacies and learn more about our one-on-one counseling services.

 

About Clear Admit:

Ivey Consulting is proud to partner with Clear Admit to provide comprehensive admissions information and consulting services to business school applicants. Learn more about Clear Admit here.

February 17, 2014

MBA Admissions Tip: Thinking About Financing

Though many business school applicants know exactly what they want to do—and how much they hope to make—after they graduate from an MBA program, a surprising number apply to school without thinking about how they’ll pay for this expensive degree.  While some students do foot the entire bill themselves or receive scholarship support from the school or an outside institution, the vast majority of MBA students borrow funds to cover their tuition and living expenses.  With this in mind, we wanted to cover some very basic information on loans for the benefit of both recent admits entering school this fall and early birds just beginning to think about their applications for Fall 2014.

The primary source of funding for U.S.-based applicants will be federal loans or alternative education loans.  The main federal loans, available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents, are the Direct Unsubsidized Loans, the Direct PLUS Loan and the Federal Perkins Loan.  Full-time students, usually those enrolled in two or more courses per semester, can borrow as much as $20,500/year through the Direct Unsubsidized Loan program.  The Direct PLUS Loan can be used to pay for the total cost of attendance less any aid you’ve already been awarded.  Meanwhile, the Federal Perkins Loan program is school-based program for students with exceptional financial needs.  Perkins Loans are low-interest, a rate of 5 percent, with a maximum annual loan amount of $8,000/year for graduate students or $60,000 in total. Those interested in applying for federal student aid should check out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  When federal loans are not enough, private loans can help bridge the gap in education costs.  Students might contact their local bank or look into lender programs, such as SallieMae or Access Group, for details on borrowing eligibility.

 International students are not eligible for federal loans but may consider private loans as a financing option.  InternationalStudentLoan.com, for instance, offers a credit-based loan to international students who are looking to finance their education in the U.S.  However, as with most private loans, this loan requires a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to co-sign.  International students can also visit International Education Financial Aid (IEFA) to search for funds, as can U.S. citizens planning on studying overseas.  Finally, most of the leading MBA programs offer private loans to their students in partnership with a particular financial institution—some of which do not require a co-signer—so this might become an option after one is admitted.

Typical timelines of loan repayment can extend up to 25 years, depending on the lender’s conditions of deferral and the amount of funds borrowed.  After graduation, students usually have a six-month grace period before monthly repayment begins.  While schools’ admittance packages usually include detailed information about financing the MBA, incoming students and applicants should not hesitate contact the school’s financial aid office for further information on available need- or credit-based loans.

 

About Clear Admit:

Ivey Consulting is proud to partner with Clear Admit to provide comprehensive admissions information and consulting services to business school applicants. Learn more about Clear Admit here.

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