Posts Tagged 'business school'

You Can’t Buy Your Way Into Business School

Have you ever wished you could simply purchase completed MBA group projects to turn in, or hire someone to take tests for you?  A recent SF Gate article states you can now lighten you MBA application workload by purchasing previous applicants’ admission essays.  As helpful as that may sound, I can promise that pursuing that strategy when applying to business school will bring you problems.

Wordprom was founded by two MBA’s (one from Standford and one from Berkeley), and the company provides MBA with previous applicants’ admissions essays.  The service allows interested parties to search for essays based on specific criteria, such as the applicant’s school, gender, graduation year, and even the admissions round the application and essay were submitted.  An essay costs about $50, and a portion of the sales is returned to the author.

I’ll admit, paying someone to essentially write a draft version of my admissions essay sounds great on paper.  But there are three important reasons why using this service is a terrible idea:

1. The essay doesn’t tell your story.  If you purchase a Wordprom essay and use its ideas and structures in your own essay, you’re not telling your personal story in your voice.  One of the essays’ purposes is to give the admissions counselor an idea of who you are, through the personal story you share.  To me, it’s as if you simply bought an MBA Essay Mad Lib and filled in the responses.  It’s not you telling your story; it’s just a paper sharing some details about your life.

2. Buying an essay may mean you aren’t ready for business school.  One of the expectations MBA programs have of their students is that they can effectively communicate.  This means they can share complex ideas with professors and classmates in both written and spoken formats.  If someone wasn’t confident enough in their abilities to write an effective application essay, it’s unlikely that confidence would appear after being accepted into a program.

3. Schools consider it cheating.  Case in point: UCLA’s Anderson School of Management rejected 52 MBA applicants last year after discovering plagiarism in their essays.  The school ran the essays through which raised the flags with the applications.  Since the essays available for purchase from Wordprom are papers previous applicants had written, it’s no surprise they were uncovered by UCLA.  Applicants should assume schools will always do their due diligence, and that includes screening essays for any possible signs of plagiarism.

Here’s the bottom line: take pride in your background, experiences, and abilities when applying to business school.  Use the essays to showcase your writing abilities and paint a more complete picture of who you are.  Admissions counselors are looking to see whether applicants will be a good fit in the MBA program and whether they will contribute to the graduate school experience.  Don’t sell yourself short and fill-in a cookie-cutter essay.  Find your voice, share your unique perspective, and put your best foot forward when starting out on your MBA journey.

Have you used Wordprom or a similar service when applying to business school?  What are your feelings about buying portions of an MBA application?  Share your thoughts in the comment section below, or tweet me @OrangeCountyMBA.  I’d love to hear what you think!


Failing Your Way into a Top-Tier MBA Program

What if you failed at something, and yet that failure opened doors you had previously only dreamed of walking through?  Seems counterintuitive, right?  However, some top-tier MBA programs admit these “failures” in growing numbers.  And what exactly are these students failing at?  They fail at starting their own businesses.

Fortune reported last week that an increasing number of top-tier MBA programs are admitting entrepreneurs, and often it’s not important whether the business they created succeeded or failed.  Changing attitudes and trends towards entrepreneurship have opened more universities to the idea of accepting these students.  Greater numbers of universities are adding entrepreneurship degrees and concentrations to their program offerings.  Additionally, studies have shown Generation Y is extremely entrepreneurial.  A May USA Today article cited a 2012 report by the Kauffman Foundation which said 29.4% of entrepreneurs are 20-34 years old.  These trends highlight why greater numbers of entrepreneurs are likely applying to MBA programs, but the skills they bring demonstrate why programs are eager to accept them.

Universities view entrepreneurs positively for a variety of reasons, whether they succeeded in their endeavor or not.  There are a few key qualities entrepreneurs tend to exhibit that MBA programs find especially valuable:

  • Long-term, strategic view.  Successful entrepreneurs must develop a business plan and execute it. Often, this means they need to view things from strategic perspectives other people might not consider.  Entrepreneurs are often either ahead of curve when it comes to developing a new product, or they find ways to fill market needs others have overlooked.  This strategic view is heavily emphasized in MBA programs – students are being taught to become future managers and executives, and universities find this skill set translates extremely well from start-ups to corporate leadership.
  • Ability to sell.  Entrepreneurs, in order to be successful, need to successfully sell their product or service.  And all corporations are in the business of selling – Google sells ads, Wal-Mart sells consumer goods, and Amazon sells everything.  So selling skills are important both for individuals creating a start-up and those working corporate jobs.  Entrepreneurs who already possess selling skills would be more well-developed business school candidates, and thus more attractive to top-tier MBA programs.
  • Soft skills.  Communicating effectively, solving disputes, managing and motivating employees – these are all important soft skills for any business leader.  And sadly, these skills are not often explicitly taught and practiced in MBA programs.  Entrepreneurs often have (successfully or unsuccessfully) put these skills to work in their businesses, and have a leg-up on their fellow classmates who may not yet have been exposed to these vital skills.
  • Network.  Businesses are run through relationships.  Owners need excellent relationships with their suppliers, employees, financial backers, and even their customers.  Thus, entrepreneurs tend to develop valuable networking skills while running their businesses and schools find this skill valuable.  These entrepreneurs can develop relationships with their fellow classmates which could potentially lead to even greater endeavors and business successes in the future.

There are several prominent business schools working to attract entrepreneurs to their programs, most notably Harvard and Stanford.  Other MBA programs across the country are getting in on the act, too.  UC Davis just invested $5 million in an innovation and entrepreneurship institute, and CSUF just completed the school’s first annual business plan competition.  Start-ups are obviously an important element of the economy, and business schools are realizing how attractive entrepreneurs can be as MBA candidates.   So if you’ve wanted to earn your degree but were concerned about that start-up you founded after graduation that didn’t succeed, don’t worry – you could potentially be a very attractive candidate for today’s business schools.

Have you ever started your own business?  How did it go?  Was it a success?  If not, what lessons did you learn from the experience?  Share your story in the comments section below.

Here’s an article I read this week that I found interesting:

“Foxconn Working Conditions Slammed by Workers Rights Group”I wrote a post several months ago about Apple’s Foxconn factory in China, highlighting potential conflicts between shareholders’ interests and employees’ well-being.  This article showed that the issues at Apple’s Foxconn factory still haven’t been resolved and why it’s important to consider employees’ well-being when running a business.