Information, news, reviews and business school rankings for global MBA programs

MBA Influencers

A whole industry exists around providing advice and guidance on which business school to apply for and how to get accepted. In this article we look at some of the key movers and shakers within this sector.

In no particular order, here are some of the people with their finger on the pulse when it comes to all things MBA!

 

Stacy Blackman

An MBA graduate from Kellogg herself, Stacy has been providing advice on business school admissions since 2001 and is responsible for the MBA Admissions: Strictly Business blog on US News.com. A keen user of social media, you can also follow Stacy on Twitter @stacyblackman.

 

Linda Abraham

Linda is the founder of Accepted and has been helping wannabe business leaders get accepted at their business school of choice since 1994. The core business is helping prospective MBA students to write engaging personal statements and application essays. Linda has also authored numerous books on the subject. Another proficient user of social media, you can check Linda out @Accepted.

 

John A Byrne

John is the Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of C-Change Media Inc who are responsible for a number of business websites, the most relevant to this topic being Poets & Quants. John is an extremely well respected author and his articles are often featured by many of the leading business websites and blogs, besides being an author he also specializes in dissertation writing service.

 

If you haven’t heard of these people then you should go and check them out now!

Also, let us know if you think we have missed somebody really important.

Should I go to Business School?

The question of whether you should attend business school depends on you.  It is a personal choice and there is no right or wrong answer because it will affect you differently based on your personal background.  Business school is just a training ground for graduate students to study business and gain skills and knowledge that will either help them advance in their current positions or help them start their own businesses.  It is just like attending any other type of graduate school and there is obviously no guarantee of whether or not you will actually be able to get a job once you have graduated.

How Do I Apply to Business School?

You will likely need to have 1 year or 6 months at the most to prepare yourself to apply to business school.  Most business schools require that all applicants have a bachelor’s degree in any subject area, a college transcript, a GMAT test score, two recommendations, an application essay, and a completed application form.  The admissions cycle for business schools usually begins in the fall semester around August or September and all of the application materials must be submitted around December or January.  It will likely take you a while to compile all of the materials so it is recommended that you get started working on them as soon as you realize that you want to go to business school.

On average, the business schools will expect that you have at least a 3.0 GPA, a strong work background, excellent recommendations, and a decent GMAT test score in the 600-800 ranged.  The more selective business schools have a more rigorous application process and it is likely that may you need to have a back up plan in case you do not get in.

How Do I Pay for Business School?

Business school is definitely not a prerequisite for having a career in the corporate world, so it will be largely your responsibility to pay for it.  Most business schools around the country cost upwards of $30,000-$60,000 per year and that may not even include all of your other personal expenses.  There are some opportunities to receive scholarships, grants, and financial aid, but there is very limited funding for these programs and chances are that the money you will receive will not be enough to cover all of your costs.  These programs are very competitive and they tend to give money to the top candidates only.  Some employers provide tuition reimbursement programs that will pay for a certain percentage of the tuition, but that is something that you must discuss with your employer.  The only other way to pay for business school is to take out student loans.  Student loans are not offered as freely as they were in the past, but they are still available and you must be very careful about how much you borrow.

The other difficult aspect of paying for business school is the fact that you may have to take time off from work in order to complete your studies.  Although there are a lot of part time and online business schools, the most selective programs are for full time study only.  The top business schools like Yale, Harvard, and Stanford actually prefer that serious candidates pursue two years of full time study on campus.  Either way, you will still have to take time out of your day to study the materials and attend classes whether they are online or on campus.

The Advantages of Attending Business School

– Additional education

There is always an advantage to having some additional education and attending business school will give you a master’s degree at the end of day.  You will always be able to use your education in some capacity and no one will be able to take it away from you.  It could lead to more jobs, higher pay, or even the start of your own business.

– Greater chances of employment or advancement

In general, having an MBA will improve your chances of getting a job and it will also help you advance in a company at a much faster rate.  A lot of major corporations target new business school graduates for their entry level management positions and even smaller companies are eager to have them as well.  If you are working at the same company, then they will probably promote you even faster since you have more credentials.  Many times these positions will also pay more money than average, so you could end up earning anywhere from $60,000-$100,000+ depending on the specialty and company.

– Learn entrepreneurship skills

Since you will learn everything about business during your classes, it is presumed that this knowledge will allow you to start your own business.  You will have inside knowledge about how businesses really operate and what types of practices make them successful, so you can do the same for yours.

The Disadvantages of Attending Business School

– It will temporarily halt your career

Going to business school will temporarily halt your career because you will have to devote your time and energy to attending classes and studying.  A lot of schools prefer that you spend to two years studying full time because it is much faster, but you can opt to attend part time or online for about 2-4 years depending on the program.

– Very expensive

There is really no way around the fact that it is expensive to attend business school.  There are grants and scholarships available, but they will not cover everything in most cases and you will have to pay for a lot of things out of pocket.  You will have to decide what your education is worth and how much you can afford to borrow.

– Not worth the cost unless you attend a top tier business school

Unfortunately, most employers do not care very much about the lower ranked business schools.  They may see that you have an MBA, but the top companies will not recruit you from those schools and they will still offer you average salaries.  MBA programs are not created equal and they have different courses, recruiters, and networking opportunities.  Employers will only start to pay attention if you attend one of the top tier business schools.

– No guarantee of a job or promotion

In more recent years, a lot of new grads have had a lot of difficulty finding work.  No matter what school you came from, there is no promise that you will get a job when you graduate.  Your company may or many not decide to promote you after you have finished the program.  You must be prepared for either one of these outcomes even if you attend a top business school.

Business school holds a lot of opportunities for highly motivated students, but it is definitely not for everybody.  Make sure that you know exactly what you are going to do with your degree when you graduate and set goals in terms of what you want to accomplish while you are in school.  There is no guarantee that you will get a better job or earn more money, but it is a step in the right direction.

TOEFL – the basics

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is designed to evaluate the ability of an individual to use and understand the English language specifically in an educational setting.

TOEFL is actually a trade mark of Educational Testing Service (ETL) and is applicable globally.

TOEFL is a very important if you are planning to study in an English-speaking country and English is not your first language.

TOEFL measures student’s ability to use and understand the English language in reading, writing, listening and oral forms. More than 7,500 universities, agencies, and other institutions in more than 130 countries accept TOEFL as part of their admissions criteria.

These days the majority of students will take an Internet-based Test (iBT) or TOEFL iBT as it is often referred to. Although initially, the demand for test exceeded capacity, and candidates often had to wait for months, it is now possible to take the test within one to four weeks in most countries.

TOEFL is a four-hour test consisting of four sections main sections:

1. Reading
2. Listening
3. Speaking
4. Writing

Some tasks require integrating multiple skills and all tasks focus on language used in an academic, higher-education environment.

There are a number of organizations offering help with TOEFL – here is a selection:

http://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/prepare/
http://www.toeflgoanywhere.org/
http://esl.about.com/cs/toefl/a/a_toefl.htm
http://www.testprepreview.com/toefl_practice.htm
http://www.myenglishteacher.net/toefl/

Financial Aid for Business School

So you’ve decided that you want to get a management qualification and you’re researching what business school you think will give you the best chance of future career success. Then you look at the cost! It can be a really daunting prospect when you first realise the financial implications of getting in to your chosen business school and it is not a decision that anybody should take lightly.

Before you even consider getting financial aid to enable you to get in to your first choice business school, you must make sure you are being realistic and that you have taken all other costs, not just fees, into consideration.

If you have your heart set on a top business school then here are the top 10 business schools ranked by ‘value for money’ according to the Financial Times Top 100 Business Schools Global MBA Ranking 2011:

 

1. University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, South Africa

2. University of Strathclyde Business School, UK

3. Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School, Belgium

4. INSEAD, France/Singapore

5. Cranfield School of Management, UK

6. IMD, Switzerland

7. Durham Business School, UK

8. Texas A&M University: Mays, US

9. SP Jain Center of Management, Dubai / Singapore

10. University College Dublin: Smurfit, Ireland

 

Once you have decided upon your preferred business school and are confident that you have a good chance of gaining admission you need to start thinking about how you are going to fund your MBA or other management qualification. You may be lucky enough that your parent’s can afford the fees and are willing to provide financial aid as an investment in your future. Unfortunately for many of us this is not an option and so here are the most common ways of getting financial aid for your chosen business school:

 

Grants and Scholarships

This will differ from country to country but there many kinds of grants and scholarships available to students offered by government, private institutions and business schools themselves. Sometimes these are merit based and other grants and scholarships are awarded to students with specific circumstances or from certain religious or ethnic backgrounds. The great thing about a grant or scholarship is that it does not have to be repaid, however, this makes competition for such financial aid very high!

Examples of grants and scholarhsips:

US & UK 

Fulbright Commission (visit website)

India 

Minority Welfare Scholarship System run by the Indian government (visit website)

Students from developing countries wanting to study in Europe

Erasmus Mundus Scholarships (visit website)

 

Corporate Sponsorship

For Executive MBA students already working it may be possible to get an employer to fund all or part of an MBA program. Obviously this is more likely to happen with a larger organization and they will probably want you to commit to staying with the company for a set number of years. You should consider this carefully as you may feel that you want to spread your wings and embark on a new challenge once you have your MBA!

Indian Oil Company offers over 2,000 scholarships to talented students across India every year. For more information click here.

 

Loans

Even with a scholarship or corporate sponsorship it still may be necessary to take out a loan to fund your management education. Our advice here would be to speak with an independent financial advisor and do your research thoroughly before committing to any kind of loan.

 

Finally, if the costs associated with business school are prohibitive and you are unable to secure financial aid then a cost-effective alternative is an online or distance learning program.

GMAT – what is it all about?

The first hurdle facing most prospective MBA students is the GMAT. This article aims to give an overview of the test and provide advice on how to prepare

The Graduate Admission Test or GMAT as it is now known was first introduced in 1953 and was created by a small group of Business Schools who’s aim it was to develop a standardized test to help business schools to take a consistent approach to entry criteria. The test is taken more than 200,000 times annually and is now used by over 1,500 business schools globally.

The test is administered by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) who has recently announced plans for a ‘Next Generation GMAT’, which will be introduced June 2012. Global MBA Report will be looking at these changes over the coming months so watch this space!

So what is it all about?

  • Analytical writing assessment section – requiring two essays
  • Quantitative section – consisting of 37 multiple choice questions
  • Problem solving – including arithmetic, basic algebra and elementary geometry
  • Data sufficiency – tests quantitative reasoning ability
  • Verbal section – consists of 41 multiple choice questions
  • Sentence correction – examines knowledge of English grammar, usage and style
  • Critical reasoning – tests logical thinking
  • Reading Comprehension – examines ability to read critically

It is difficult to give guidance on what is the exact score required to gain entry to your chosen business school as most do not publish a minimum score or provide statistics on previous scores. However, you can usually find out the average score obtained by the latest intake, for example the following statement is taken from the London Business School website:

“Our average for the Class of MBA2012 is 701 with a range of 600-780. However, the GMAT is just one of several admission criteria. Just as a high score does not guarantee admission, a below average score does not eliminate a candidate. You must ensure that your score is still valid on the 1 September for the year you will be matriculating. Scores are valid for five years from the date you take the test. For example, for the class beginning in 2011, we will only accept scores obtained since 1 September 2006.”

http://www.london.edu/programmes/mba/faqs.html

It is important to note that you can overcome a low score with impressive real world achievements, a good undergraduate performance, high quality references, strong personal connections, strong application essays, or as a member of an under-represented group.

Last month Global MBA Report looked at Essential Reading for Prospective MBA Students, which included some useful books providing advice on business school admissions policy.

In addtion to the books reviewed above, the GMAT Review provides advice specific to the test and is now on its 12th edition. Here are some tips taken from the book on how to navigate the quantitative and verbal sections of the test:

  • DON’T resort to random guesses. Instead, try to eliminate at least one answer choice before confirming your response.
  • DO look out for sucker-bait answer choices.
  • DO pace yourself so that you have enough time to consider every available question — but don’t be a clock-watcher.
  • DO take your time with the first few Quantitative and Verbal questions.
  • DON’T succumb to perfectionist tendencies.
  • DO use your pencil and scratch paper (both will be provided).
  • DON’T waste time reading directions while the clock is running; you should already know them.

Visit the MBA Book Shop where you can browse and purchase titles recommended by Global MBA report.

gmatclub is a useful resource including blogs and extremely active forums where you can find a wide range of useful information. gmatclub also partners with organisations offering training/coaching.

Another fantastic information resource is 800score.com, named after the highest score attainable on the GMAT and run by a group of very clever individuals who have all achieved impressive scores, including a few 800′s! 800score.com has helped over 100,000 students since 1999 making it one of the leading online test preparation organizations.

Finally, GMAT Prep Now, created by Brent Hanneson who has over 20 years teaching experience, offers an affordable online GMAT prep course with over 400 premium videos, a comprehensive learning guide, and a money-back guarantee. Prices starting at just $10/module!