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Book The Best Business Schools' Admissions Secrets: A Former Harvard Business School Admissions Board Member Reveals the Insider Keys to Getting In by Isiadinso, Chioma (2008)


The Best Business Schools' Admissions Secrets: A Former Harvard Business School Admissions Board Member Reveals the Insider Keys to Getting In by Isiadinso, Chioma (2008)

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Review Text

  • By Jaewoo Kim on September 20, 2009

    This is a very sound book focused on the admissions to the top 8 MBA programs. The only regret I have with this book is that I wish I had read it earlier.The author provides deep insights into how each applicant is evaluated. MBA admissions to the top business schools is not all about GMAT and GPA.In order to be admitted to the top 5 business schools in particular, one needs to show tremendous leadership and other WOW factors. One needs to foster good relationships with potential MBA recommenders. And don't forget the arduous preparation for GMAT.Unfortunately, one can't just build a MBA WOW factor in few months. It may take years to build extracurricular credentials and leadership experience that an MBA program would find compelling and credible (it is too late to join the Peace Corp 3 months before the application).This would be an ideal book to read for those who just finished their undergraduate program and would like to attend an MBA program in a few years. It will provide quite helpful tips on how to prepare for the grueling and challenging MBA admissions process in a top school. DO NOT think high GMAT and GPA will guarantee you admission into a top MBA program (although they will surely help).To summarize the book, one needs to build a compelling personal brand and allow other parts of the application,interview, and recommendation confirm that brand. DO NOT write boring and trite essays that will put admission officers to sleep. Make your essays interesting and compelling with a touch of humor. The book also outlines a list of things an MBA applicant should never do in the essays, interviews, and recommendations.Other suggestions from the book:1)Valid reasons why you would want an MBA (money and intellectual challenge should not be emphasized).2)Choosing between Fulltime, partime, executive, and accelerated MBA programs. (They are NOT the same).3)Writing proper and effective Essays (Writing boring essays that do not foster strong personal brand is a sin).4)Choosing and prepping the recommenders.5)International student challenges (visa, obtaining financial aid, language barrier etc).6)Financial Aid7)How to handle interviews, open houses, and information sessions. Note, you WILL be evaluated in all 3, so be nice and professional to everyone.My main disappointment with the book is that the author provides deep insights into only top 8 MBA programs. Clearly, most of the suggestions are focused on the admissions to top 8 programs. The school I am targetting, which is a top 12 MBA program, was not dealt in any level of depth.

  • By Bulldog on April 8, 2011

    The signal to noise ratio in this book is superb. The author's argument is that candidates who have the best odds of admission are those individuals who have a strong and clear sense of who they are, what matters most to them, and where they are heading in the future. This sounds simple, until you start trying to compress this into cohesive 250-500 word essays for an audience that typically has fewer than 20 people reading thousands of apps. The author breaks apart how to define and refine your story so that it is very compelling to any person in a position of authority to dictate your outcome (you 'll find the methods spill over into many aspects of your professional and personal life). With that long preamble...Chapter 1. Why do you want an MBA? Motivations, value proposition.Chapter 2. Keys to separating yourself. Perspective from the admissions committee.Chapter 3. 20+ core questions. Answer these thoroughly and your life will be so much easier during the process. The key is a great short summary of you/your brand. I cannot overstate the importance of the 3-5 themes you will develop here; you will revert to these throughout the entire process.Chapter 4. What you should be doing pre-app. Nuts and bolts of what happens from the admissions perspective.Chapter 5. Evaluation metrics of top schools. Methods to address leadership or lack of it.Chapter 6. Soars, pgii, six c's, top questions admit committee asks, and great examples and analysis of essays. The book pays for itself 50x over just for this chapter.Chapter 7. Resume. This not a job resume and it will be the platform for most of your interviews. Good tips.Chapter 8. 50 fundamental interview questions. Amazing. Use a camera and record your answers. Really effective.Chapter 9. Recommenders. Most who will write on your behalf do not write recommendations for a living. This chapter breaks down the process for you and your recommender so that what he or she is writing really complements your application. My recommenders found this incredibly helpful.Chapter 10. Avoiding generic stereotypes.Chapters 11-14. More goodies.The book contains numerous examples from real applicants. Chioma breaks apart why they are good so you are not left feeling helpless. Note that each part of the process builds on itself and reverts back to a very strong core message developed in chapter 3. The downside to the book: you may not have access to great live criticism. For this you need a set of friends who are really good at editing/eliminating fluff and/or you might opt to hire Expartus.This book is a gem. I'm glad it's in print and beyond thrilled with what I derived from the book and the interaction I had with Expartus.

  • By Future_cpa1 on August 19, 2011

    A well written and thorough trip down the rabbit hole with a pro who knows her graduate admissions information! I was quite surprised and impressed with the insight and depth of how admissions treat GMAT scores in the applications process, all the different approaches boards use for transcripts and how applicants can increase activities/groups to show leadership, management, creativity and dedication.There are several chapters on open and closed applicant interviews that are used by higher end schools as well. The schools I am applying to are high end, but not in the top 10 or 15 to say the least (ex: Texas A&M, Amherst and Univ of North Texas), so many of the suggestions and approaches she explains in this book should be used as a baseline for schools lower on the totem pole. I made the mistake of not applying for programs 6 months-2 years before hand, so I am paying for it now. Make sure to take time in preparing your essays (2-3 months), preparing a graduate format resume, polishing interview questions and keeping GPA high across multiple schools if possible. According to her book one of the major limitations and challenges admissions boards have is the weight of gpa scores from unknown colleges. A 3.7 at one school may be the equivelant of a 3.2 at another, depending on class design, homework, testing and grading and how curves are treated. Having high GPA from more than one college helps alleviate that worry boards will have.

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