Ask Jeremy: “Can you give me some interview advice?”

In a recent question, a reader asked me about interviewing. Specifically, the reader is interviewing for both jobs and possibly for MBA programs.

See below for the question and below that for my video response.


Hi Jeremy,

Congratulations on all of your success! Thank you for the website as well. I am looking to join an MBA program and also doing some interviewing for jobs currently.  I wanted to ask about specific challenges to expect during the interview process, and also ask for any tips you might be willing to share. What were some of the key things that you thought helped you enter the program? Thank you.


See below for my video response.


In short, I talk a little about 1) Framing your answer, 2) Content of your answer,  3) tips on interview style and  4) general tips.   Note that the answer here is pretty high level given the general nature of the question.

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Monday, November 19th, 2012 Admissions, AskJeremy, Education No Comments

#AskJeremy: Ask me anything at Kellogg MBA Info Session on Monday, October 1, 2012

For the first time this application season, I’m joining Kellogg at a public MBA admissions event. Given my work hours over the coming months, I’m not sure I’ll make all of them. So I hope you’ll consider coming to this one.

College and graduate admissions season is one of my favorite times of year.  Applicants are not only visiting campuses, sitting in on the classes and going to info sessions but many are also writing me with questions from all across the world. All in hopes to find a golden ticket into top programs. Well, for people applying to MBA programs, Kellogg School of Management is holding an info session in early October.  I’m going and would love to meet all of you there.

The event will be held in downtown Chicago at 555 West Monroe, on Monday, October 1, 2012.

In general, these events are a great chance to mingle with potential MBA students and also a great chance to meet admissions officers and learn more about the school.

Meanwhile, I’ll be there and you can ask me anything–the good and the bad–about Kellogg and any top MBA program.

CLICK HERE to register.

And feel free to contact me personally if you’ll be attending.

See you in a two weeks.



Tuesday, September 18th, 2012 Admissions, Business School No Comments

Most law school applicants

… apply to law school the same way. They have very similar backgrounds, few years of work experience, focus way more on the LSAT than anything else, and end up choosing the highest ranked school that lets them in. Most of these applicants are smart, no doubt about it. But here is the problem.


Most law school applicants get low LSAT scores at least once, and then become afraid to take the test again. Many never take it a second time.

Most law school applicants spend so much time on the LSAT that they forget about the importance of having a good story

Most law school applicants write lofty essays about making a difference in the world, but nearly every single one wants to work at a big law firm by the end of their first year

Most law school applicants are hyper-competitive and don’t do a good a job working together

Most law school applicants apply to law school with very little ‘real’ work experience but don’t realize this is the case

Most law school applicants are more argumentative than collaborative

Most law school applicants are caught off guard during 1L

Most law school applicants haven’t developed certain professional leadership skills

Most law school applicants get rejected from more schools than they get in to


The good news is that if you are reading this post RIGHT NOW, then you do not have to be like most law school applicants


Tuesday, September 4th, 2012 Business School, Law School, Leadership No Comments

Recap of MLT’s Kick-Off Seminar In Houston

I’m not surprised that MBA applicants are feeling a little more nervous than usual.  Given the uncertain economic times, many experts don’t even know what to expect in the admissions cycle, let alone inexperienced applicants. It doesn’t help that some applicants still rely heavily on too few schools, so the odds are stacked against them. Others have been superstars since graduation, but now fear the prospects of failing. And for a third group, job insecurity reigns. These applicants work at unstable firms and fear being laid off, so they feel the pressure to get in.  These and other applicants should strive for nearly perfect applications. That not only includes good scores and a well-written application at fit schools, but it also includes a career roadmap and a compelling story to tell the committee. At least that’s what John Rice came to discuss at MLT’s kick-off seminar in Houston.

At long last, the newest class of MLT’s MBA Prep Program was finally welcomed in person at the 2010 kick-off event.  The event took place at Rice University, and the good news was that I was able to get a sneak peak at this year’s new class. Even though I haven’t even finished my first class at Kellogg yet, MLT asked me to volunteer at the event. And I’m sure glad they asked. For one, it allows me to contribute to the MLT community, which is something that’s been on my mind a lot these days, even as a first year law student. It also give me the chance to meet and help current fellows, to re-connect with alumni and with the awesome MLT team, and also gives a chance to become part of a movement that’s much larger than myself.

And so all of that began late Thursday night when my flighted finally landed in Houston around midnight. Interestingly enough is that fact that a current MLT fellow was also in my SuperShuttle, and so that we chatted on the way to the hotel MLT reserved. Like a large number of fellows, she was from New York and also very nice. Arriving at the hotel sometime around 1:00am, I unpacked a few things, took care of a few dozen emails, and prepped for a couple of phone calls and a meeting I had the next morning. Time flew by, and before I knew it, I was hopping in a cab to head over to the conference.

Shortly after entering the building, I joined the current fellows in a session about “MBA, leadership, and success.” As I walked in, a tsunami of laughter went across the room. I suspected that everyone was probably having a good time. Gazing around the auditorium, I noticed the room was jam-packed with over 200 fellows, all intensely concentrating on the guest speaker.   I noticed right away that the crowd of fellows was incredibly diverse. It was especially good to see that there was a good mix of women in the room, something I suspect that MLT is keeping in mind. Before entering the room I figured everyone would all be a lot younger than me, but boy was I wrong.  Not only did I come to find that the average age was something similar to mine, but I also found a number of students that were older than me, and others who were in my class back at Stanford, including my really good friend Khalilah Karim.  (Any current fellows who stumble on this post should definitely take a few minutes to meet her!)

And not only did I catch up with her for a bit, but I also spoke to a number of fellows on Friday. Working with Michael Pages, a friend from my MLT fellowship class (2009), we spoke with a good number of people at lunch, between sessions, and later that night until the wee hours of the morning. Working with a bigger group of MLT alum on Saturday, we discussed application myths and took part in a Q&A, as part of an organized panel. Our approach was to structure part of the initial discussion and then let everyone pick topics based on interests. The session was highly energized, non-stop, and went well.

But more than a single energizing panel, the conference was the combination of lots of interesting sessions led by alumni, staff, and guest speakers, many of which were compelling, especially to the new fellows.  Similar to my year, almost every session was informative and interesting, and collectively the sessions began to foster ties between having goals in business and concurrently having goals that improve the community, where that topic pinnacled during John Rice’s session about passion on Friday.

It’s no surprise that the highlight of these weekends often tends to be John Rice’s session, “Defining your passion.”  It’s funny, inspiring, insightful, and participatory. John did a similar session my year, which was a big hit, and it seemed like it went over pretty well this year. “Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep in this session” he began, as his session took place right after lunch. And after reeling in a quick laugh from the audience, he moved on to substance and gave a crash course on figuring out your passion and integrating that into your story and essays.

“To have the best chances at admission, you need to have a road map” Rice said.  “And to be truly great, your passion has to be part of that road map.”   In layman’s terms, applicants should think about passions, goals and other personal issues that are often left out of MBA applications. What an insight for the new class! This isn’t what many us first hear about MBA applications. I sure didn’t. But John emphasized the idea and then illustrated it in a real-time activity in front of the class, keeping the session interactive as possible. In the end, the session was more refined, fun, and compelling than I even remember from my year.

Sitting in the session this weekend also made me think about my conference two years ago and about meeting my cohort for the first time. My group was lucky enough to connect fairly early, which is something I relayed to the new class this weekend. And although a few people in my cohort transitioned slower than others, somewhere along the way we all really jelled. We brainstormed ideas, shared personal stories, provided feedback on career thoughts, and learned from each other in a way that helped us to really grow, both as applicants and personally.

And in the end, we not only became a cohort that worked well together, but also a group that had a stake in each other’s success.  And still do. And that’s one of my biggest takeaways from being a fellow—that there’s power in having a small team of people where everyone has a the same specific interests, similar common goals, and everyone is on the same page.  And in some sense, I suspect that’s part of why I was excited to head back this weekend, to see that connection again.

And after day one of the session I began thinking.  What if all MLT alumni decided to come back? And what if everyone started going to all the big MLT events? And not for the sake of networking or to enhance career opportunities, but instead to work together on bigger issues that impact broader global communities. And what if they worked just as well together, or even better, than my cohort did?  Sounds impractical? Maybe.  But definitely not a bad idea. Because the best leaders understand that there’s power in teams, that sharing common values harnesses even greater potential, and that having both together can lead to profound impact.

And for the second time in my life, I left the an MLT Kick-Off Seminar with inspiration and a competing need to get back to work. But this time not on applications or in the office. Now, I have to finish up my second semester of law school.

But either way, I still sort of know how the MLT’ers feel, and I encourage the fellows to join forces as you head through the year of MLT together. Good luck!

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Sunday, March 28th, 2010 Admissions, Business School, Diversity 10 Comments

Applicant Question: Should I Attend Kellogg’s BMA Conference?

The MBA admissions process has long been considered by some to be a black box. Some define it that way because of its unpredictability. And others for its perceived inconsistency and secrecy.  But despite its mysterious reputation, one thing is pretty certain, there usually isn’t a “right” answer or “single” answer to most questions anyhow. Instead admissions teams look at applications holistically. They seek out nuances most of us don’t consider. They interesting analyze trends and patterns.  They can spot inconsistencies from a mile away. And they give credibility to the intangible things that many of us might overlook.

The good news is that things have changed a bit over the past few years. Admissions information has become more accessible and the internet has made it far easier to gain access to critical pieces of admissions statistics that we look for. In less than a second, a well-crafted google search can get you just about anything you need, from past interview questions, to average scores at schools, to employment and pay information. But some questions still remain ambiguous, like the one from my reader who asked whether attending Kellogg’s BMA conference this year would influence her chances of admission. Check out our exchange below!


My question is in reference to the Kellogg BMA conference that is coming up. Do you see attendance to this conference as significantly beneficial to prospective students (looking to apply this fall)?


Thanks so much for your question and for reading my blog. As I mentioned in my introduction above, most questions don’t have a single answer, and I personally think that this question fits into that category.  For the benefit of all the readers out there who might be pondering a similar question, I’ll try to break the question down both broadly and specific to your case.

But before I get into the answer, I’d like to point out to all my readers that the BMA Conference is a great event that not only gets a really good turnout every year but also tends to draw some pretty big name speakers and panelists. This year Soledad O’Brien (from CNN) has agreed to head to campus and help kick-off the event by chatting with some students and professors on Wednesday. Click here for the full conference agenda.

Now to respond to your question — On the surface, I’d say a attending conferences here at Kellogg, or at any school for that matter, will not be seen as a significant factor in your application.  I can’t speak personally about what goes on in the minds of AdCom members when they’re making final decisions on candidates, but as I’ve alluded to in a number of posts before, admissions decisions are rarely made on the basis of one data point. I suspect this is especially true about data points that don’t give the committees more information about you.  So I’d speculate that it’s pretty unlikely that an admissions decision would hinge on your attendance at the conference.  You can also think about it numerically — consider the number of admits that get into Kellogg every single year but never come to a conference, and never even considered coming. I suspect that number must be huge.  That said, I don’t think you should  make up your mind so quickly.  My perspective is that the decision is not quite that simple.

I think the real answer to this question is it depends. Because depending on how you’d frame the question of “what is beneficial” to you could easily change your answer.  Is it most important for you to visit and learn about Kellogg? Do you want to get a better feel for the culture? Do you want to learn about the curriculum? Or are you looking to show the admissions committee you’re really interested? As I like to emphasize in nearly all of my posts, it’s my opinion that people far too often expect answers to be binary and they hope for solutions that will add tangible value to their profiles.  But it often turns out that it’s more important to consider a broader range of possible benefits, some that often pay off in the longer term.  I think that this also holds true for your question.

For example, in my opinion these conferences are a great way to meet smart and high-potential people — students and alumni — who were once in your shoes. Consider the possibilities that come with that.  It’s quite possible you’ll make a really great connection, maybe a mentor, maybe someone who has good advice about the essays or general process, or maybe just a good friend. Or perhaps you’ll stumble across that one hidden jewel of information you didn’t know you were looking for.  The gem that helps your bring your application story together and leads you to the promise land of better articulating your career passion.

A conference might also be the gateway to finally catch a live snapshot of the school’s culture. In fact, I just wrote a post earlier today where I raved for pages about Kellogg’s culture.  And while I’d definitely be grateful if you continue to read my posts, there’s definitely no substitute for watching things happen real-time. Another thing I also said in my that post is that the MBA world can start to feel pretty small sometimes. So if you’re definitely set on applying to programs this year, then there’s the chance you may see some of the others again, even if you didn’t end up deciding to come to Kellogg.

To give you a little background about me, I personally made a trip or two to Kellogg while I was applying.  And fortunately, I was able to meet a lot of really great people on my trips.  On my first trip, I met a second year student — she ironically happened to be my class host — who I connected with right away during class, and it just so happened we kept in touch as I applied.  And although she was a couple of years ahead of me, and is currently living the good life out in New York City, we still chat regularly and sometimes meet up when she’s here in the windy city.

That said, I’ll stress that I didn’t visit Kellogg with the singular goal of finding a resource. Instead, I came to experience campus, gather information, and meet lots of people. And that I definitely did.  That said, I suspect that most people who visit probably have very different experiences, but I do believe that anyone who visits campus and is intent on gathering information about the school will usually be able to find what they’re looking for.

Sound like a lot to consider? I think so too. But in the end, the “tangible” benefit will be more correlated to what you make of the experience than it is of your actual attendance. And so you’ll have to balance all these potential benefits with the costs that you’d incur by coming and then decide if it’s worth it for you.  And for some people it won’t be.  And so my only “actual” piece of advice is just to consider everything on both sides (costs and benefits) and do what makes the most sense for you.

And, like I said before, the good news is that your attendance shouldn’t make or break your application. So try not to stress too much about it. But if you do decide to register, then the sooner the better, so you can take advantage of the early bird discount. Good luck with your decision!

Click here to register for the BMA Conference

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Thursday, February 18th, 2010 Admissions, Business School, Diversity 3 Comments

My Thoughts on Day At Kellogg (DAK), Round 1, Class of 2012

The more admit weekends I’ve been to over the past year, the more I realize how different each school’s culture actually is. Although many students come to town with similar career paths — consulting, banking, finance, marketing — the school culture usually take the lead at these weekends and so the divergent pieces of the programs really stand out.  This past weekend, I joined a couple hundred admits at Kellogg’s admit weekend (DAK). And it was definitely an interesting couple of days!

I was personally admitted to Kellogg last year — alongside Kellogg’s class of 2011 — not this year.  But because I’m in the JD-MBA program and began my program at the law school, I’m actually a part of the Class of 2012. That means that this year’s admitted students will be in my graduating class. So despite a pretty heavy course load at law school last week, I headed out to Evanston to attend as many events as possible.

The weekend was not only the perfect chance to meet dozens and dozens of classmates, which is something I thoroughly enjoy, but it was also a chance to really get a feel for the culture of Kellogg and for MBA programs in general.  And I feel like I had a pretty interesting perspective on things, given I’ve spent all year in law school, which in my opinion is completely different.  Here’s a quick summary of the themes I saw this weekend.

Diversity Reigns. Similar to what I saw at many of the admit weekends last year, the people at Kellogg are really diverse.  Admits not only came from Chicago but they also came from all parts of the US — both big cities and small ones — and all corners of the globe, all with a common purpose — to choose the right MBA program. Although on the surface there was a bit of commonality in the career paths of the admits, after doing some probing, everyone definitely had very unique career experiences and insights. I met students who worked in consulting, investment banking, investment management, private equity, start-ups, family businesses, technology companies, government agencies, political campaigns, marketing departments, and in a wide variety of other roles. And even within this categories, there was a pretty wide range of experiences. For example, in the consulting industry, I met folks both from the big three firms, and also from at least 15 or 20 other firms, including start-ups and middle market firms. And many of the consultants had traveled extensively around the world to serve clients in places like Dubai, Mumbai, London, New York City, and Barcelona. I found it pretty interesting to learn about people’s career experiences.

Academic theory has suggested that at times too much diversity can threaten a community’s ability to work communally. While the argument might have merits in some environments, the theory doesn’t hold at all in business school, especially at a collaborative place like Kellogg.  At Kellogg, all the activities are run by students, including DAK. And so in my opinion, student leaders tend to do a pretty good job working together and bringing people on the same page.  All of the sessions over the weekend were run by teams of five or six, and I was particularly impressed how most groups worked seamlessly together and how members were pretty good about jumping in when a teammate needed help.

That said, I did notice that some of that diversity seemed to get funneled out a bit in the recruiting process.  Although a number of students came in with unique backgrounds and even more unique dreams for the future, many first years ended up recruiting for similar industries and companies. At Kellogg, like some of the other top schools, students interviewed for marketing, consulting, banking and finance.  But this funnel is certainly not unique to Kellogg.

On one hand, I think these industries are great launching pads for a wide variety of careers — they equip you with the hard and soft skills to become better managers and leaders and often give you the credibility and experience to progress more rapidly.  But on the other hand, I also think there is merit in pursuing your career passion earlier than later.  Because the path to success is often long and hard, I think some people might be better off picking jobs that they are committed to from the start, engaging in activities where they will thrive in spite of setbacks, and undertaking leadership positions that allow them to be creative and implement their biggest ideas.

It’s A Small World. My experience at DAK also reminded me that the world can be pretty small sometimes. But this was not really a surprise. Technology and social media certainly brings all of us closer than we’ve ever been.  And over the weekend, I met a number of people I had pretty close connections to. I met the twin of someone I knew years ago at Stanford as an undergrad. I had a long conversation with an admit who’s good friend is the current roommate of my old college roommate.  I re-connected with a girl that was in my sister sorority back at Stanford.  I chatted with a student who is related to a section mate here at the law school.  And I even spoke with multiple people who had been followers of my website (thanks for following!)

It was definitely a lot of fun to meet and network with such an interconnected crowd. For many, the idea of networking induces negative emotions, as people too often think of networking as self-interested schmoozing, passing out business cards, and hoping to find a job. But to me, that’s a pretty superficial view.  For me, it’s all about meeting people, learning from their experiences, getting new perspectives on things, and most importantly being equally willing to do a favor rather than take one.  In my case, I’m usually more willing. Imagine if everyone had this mentality!

Questions.   Answering questions also seemed to be a big theme at the admit weekend, and admits had a great venue to ask lots of questions about the school. And dozens of first years came out, armed both with information and with time to answer the questions. And so the most curious folks benefited most, especially given the experienced pool of Kellogg students.

But I noticed this year, even more than last year, that some admits also enjoyed doing a lot of the talking. While talking is not necessarily a bad thing and although I’m also a big talker myself, my opinion is that having that mentality all the time doesn’t always work so well at these types of events.  Given first years have so much to offer, admits definitely lose out by not listening more.  Further, admits always run the risk of coming off a bit too arrogantly if they don’t take the time to listen. The first year students are there specifically to provide information about Kellogg, and so not listening doesn’t give them a chance to do what they came out for.

I personally think there’s incredible value to asking lots of questions. For one, there are so many aspects to learn about Kellogg, and that’s also true for many other schools too.  So the more quality questions you ask, the better. And even aside from the chance to learn something new or to hear about others’ perspectives, asking questions also provides one of the best venues to engage in genuine conversation. And so my opinion is that asking good questions, and doing so in the spirit of collaboration and generosity, is one of the best ways to get past the formality and really connect with a person. I found this happening quite a bit this past weekend.

Habit Of Decision-Making.   At most admit weekends, there are some people who have made up their mind to attend a school, and others who are still deciding. At DAK, I found a good mix of both, though definitely more people still in the decision-making process than I had anticipated. Some admits were still waiting around for other schools to get back to them. Others were waiting on Kellogg for financial aid information. A third group was so happy to get in, they hadn’t thought much about the decision. And a fourth group was relying on their DAK experience to decide.

To me, that whole decision-making process about school is also indicative of MBA programs. Business schools, as first evinced in the case study system, are venues that facilitate constant decision-making. Every single day, you have to decide how much time to spend in the library, how much time to prep for upcoming interviews, and how much time to spend out at the local pub celebrating with friends. And in some classes, there is the case — the cases often revolve around CEOs or other leaders who face adverse circumstances and have to make tough decisions, sometimes quickly. And so the student is put in the seat of the decision-maker and has to think through that decision. Sometimes with a lack of information. Sometimes in the midst of uncertainty. And usually with little or no experience (we’re just MBA students!). Schools like HBS and Darden use the case method a bit more than Kellogg (according to students I’ve met), but Kellogg is a great general management and leadership school and I’m personally looking forward to some of the case-based classes there.

From my experience this year, MBA programs are more welcoming of this style of decision-making than law schools are, both because these types of decisions are more common in business and because a lawyers job is to mitigate risk not utilize it. And so MBA programs prepare you with a willingness to take risks. To calculate those risks based on information and analysis, yes, but to take them. That said, the admitted students at Kellogg are pretty lucky. While some may see it risky to take on loans to get an MBA, it’s certainly not very risky getting a Kellogg MBA in the process.

Clubs Will Be King.  It was also clear that clubs are a pretty important part of Kellogg. Clubs give students a direct way to dive into various industries, functions, and other interests during school. On one hand, this access allows them to learn about different things they’re interested in. On the other hand, it also allows them to gain access to critical information that could facilitate a student’s progress toward their ultimate career goals.  But maybe more important than nature of the clubs and the information the clubs may have, club membership also provides an ideal venue for students to work on their leadership skills. Because most activities at Kellogg are run entirely by students, student leaders are accountable to organize events, meet with other student leaders and with administration, and execute agendas, for all events on campus.  At DAK, I was very clear how much work it took to pull this off.

Although some people tend to underemphasize this experience in the application process, I personally think that in the right environment (i.e like at Kellogg), organizing events and activities is a great way to practice your leadership skills.  In my own experience before Kellogg, I’ve spent significant time doing similar things in the community. Doing so, I’ve come to learn the power that comes with planning, organizing activities, setting priorities, and achieving goals. Especially when you’re 100% accountable for the results. And the good news about Kellogg is that you have the Kellogg brand backing you up, and that you can lead in a safe environment with classmates.

What About Leadership? So what do all these issues mean for MBA students — future firm managers and world leaders?  That’s a great question, and I don’t have the perfect answer. But one trend I do see is that there is definitely a change in the leadership skills that will be most effective going forward.  And while there are certain leadership qualities that will always be critical – the ability to influence others, create change, build consensus, and rally people to action — today the ability to lead in more diverse environments, to listen to the perspectives of others, to understand and collaborate with different cultures, and to maintain a broader perspective are also important. Leaders will need to use these abilities become more adept at developing relationships in the high-growth yet still shrinking “small world” that is developing.

And in the end, my personal opinion is that leadership will continue to have more correlation to the ability to connect with others, to exchange information, and to build new relationships. What do you think?

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Wednesday, February 17th, 2010 Admissions, Business School, Diversity, Leadership 3 Comments

#AskJeremy: Applicant Question – Taking The GMAT Multiple Times

In a recent message from one of my readers, I was asked for a bit of advice about the GMAT.

My usual first piece of advice to GMAT questions is to remember, that it’s one part of your application and will almost never “bar” you from admission and that you should be careful aiming for a higher score if it comes at the expense of other pieces of your application. However, unlike most applicants with GMAT questions, this reader has already made it to the promise land and scored above a 700.  His concern is that took four attempts and a few bad testing incidents to get there.  Check out my response to the question below!


Hello Jeremy,

Your blog’s really nice. Very informative. I interviewed with Kellogg on campus yesterday for the jd-mba program. It was a wonderful experience visiting both the Evanston campus and the Chicago downtown campus (great views from the library there!). I work on Wall Street for a prominent Investment Bank (Bank Holding Company now) as a front office quant. The JD-MBA program at Kellogg is my first choice. My application is under review by the ad com now, however I was quite keen on understanding a few things about how Kellogg considers multiple GMAT attempts? I had to take the GMAT 4 times to crack the 700 barrier. Although unfortunate a couple of times, I had to file incidence reports with GMAC because of bad testing environment (with other co-test-takers shouting out numbers in their math section while i was doing my RC in the verbal etc), I cant possibly give those as reasons for my below-par-performances. I am proud of my perseverance toward cracking the 700 barrier however. Kellogg clearly says that they consider the best score if the latest and the best score are equal. Is this really true? Does the number of GMAT attempts weigh down an application heavily?



Dear (Reader), thanks for writing in with your question about Kellogg and for reading my blog. I’m glad you enjoy the site.

First off, congratulations on finishing your Kellogg interview. It can definitely be a nervous part of the process for a lot of candidates. It sounds like yours went well, which is good news.  Also, you’re absolutely correct about our library. The views from that side of the building are pretty amazing, and they can be quite distracting in the fall and spring if you study by the windows, which can be a good or a bad thing. And finally, I’m glad Kellogg is your first choice and I hope you were that enthusiastic when you completed your application. My opinion is that the JD-MBA program does their best not only to select top tier applicants but also those who demonstrate that they  really want to come. While this is clearly not always so easy to predict, I suspect that the best applicants are able to convey this message pretty clearly.

Now to your email–First, I think this is a really good question, and it’s one that I also thought about back when I first considered applying to b-school.  It’s funny, but like you, I quickly noticed that generally some programs don’t clearly state their policies online–some seemed to exclude them while others made me search every possible link to find it.  Off hand, I don’t know where Kellogg fits into this sphere–and perhaps they may list it openly on the site. But I wonder if not focusing on this fact is actually a good thing, because it keeps students from worrying too much about the logistics and instead allows them to focus on achieving their target scores and giving their best efforts. That said, I still don’t really know why the schools have decided to go about it this way. Perhaps, it was not purposeful.

But from experience, I suspect that you may not need to worry too much about it.  I think the fact that GMAC allows you to take the GMAT up to 5 times per calendar year and that MBA programs don’t object suggests that you’re chances of admission will not “significantly” change.  I’ve met admits from other top MBA programs who have taken five tests. Also, the fact that GMAC sends the past three tests scores (and not just one), in my opinion, seems to be more correlated to the fact that schools may want to see scoring trends over time and changes in performance. I’ve actually asked admissions reps about this before, and most will concede to looking for positive trends from candidates, though I’ve never heard anyone mention seeking out negative trends. And third, the average GMAT score published by online by MBA programs, in my experience, reflects each person’s highest score across the entering class, not each admits average score. This suggests that schools may place more importance, at least in terms of public perception, on the highest scores.

What does all this mean? It’s hard to say for certain, but I think it reflects both admissions’ desire to see upward progression on the test, and their significantly stronger desire to see your highest score. And in my opinion, the only time that taking multiple tests really comes into play for those who improved is for candidates with mid-range scores or with borderline applications. Then the committee might look for upward score progression or look at quantitative and verbal score combinations over time, to see if you perhaps had a string of bad days in one section, to see if you’re a hard worker, or to find other (in)consistencies in the application.  For example, if there were two candidates for admission, where one that had a change in GMAT score from 600 to 640, and the second who scored a had 600, then I suspect that the extra effort would be applauded.  Conversely, if you have to take it twice to hit 600, just to apply with the same score as the other applicant, then while you might guess that the second person would look better, it’s also possible that the committee may admire your persistence, rather than think negatively of your profile. It’s hard to predict what anyone might say for certain, but I can’t think of many cases where multiple GMAT scores would “dramatically” ruin your application.

I do agree that your case seems a bit different, but I’m glad you didn’t write much about it in the information section. For one, Kellogg plainly tells you that it considers your highest score and second because most committees don’t want to hear anything that might sound like an excuse.  But, in terms of Kellogg specifically, they are usually pretty similar to other top schools when it comes to the GMAT, and I don’t have any reason to believe that they’d look at your scores any differently than what they said. So I’m pretty certain that they aren’t taking the average of your scores, but it’s always hard to say anything for certain. But here is what I do know for certain. I do know at least a dozen MBAs at top ten schools who had three and four GMAT attempts. I also know multiple JD-MBAs in this program who took the exam more than two times.  I personally did not crack 700 on my first GMAT attempt.  In fact, I was far from it. So rest assured that candidates like you, with upward trends in scores, final scores above 700, good resumes, and good interview (as you seemed to suggest) usually do pretty well in the admissions process. Of course, this assumes my very first point above, which is that you didn’t use the four attempts at the expense of other parts of your application.

I know may this not have been the perfect “yes” or “no” you were looking for,  but I hope it answers your question. Best of luck with all your applications, and with the JD-MBA program!  Feel free to let me know how things turn out.


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Friday, February 5th, 2010 Admissions, AskJeremy, Business School No Comments

Applicant Question: Law School Or Business School? And Should I Apply Now?

Hundreds of thousands of graduates this year will spend hours pouring over essays, filling out data forms, and submitting applications to graduate school programs. Some of them may have been planning to apply all year, but a disproportionate number will be submitted by freshly-minted graduates trying to hedge their bets with the economy. They may not know exactly what they want to do, but they fear being thrown in the lions den of unemployment and would prefer to spend another couple of years getting “hazed” with impossible workloads and “cheated” by the “curve” in grad school.  In fact, chances are you’re on of them. But there’s just one problem. What if you don’t get in?

In a recent message from one of my readers, I was asked for a bit of advice about this very topic. The reader asked whether he should be applying to business school or law school, if he should apply this year. My reader is still in college and is not certain of what he wants to do.  His question was also very vague, which I generally advise against if your an applicant.  But I thought it’d be a good chance to steer the conversation a bit and share a few things that I think are important to consider when applying to graduate school, especially now.  My general theme is that applicants should take the time to think about what they want to do and apply when they’re ready to achieve the best results. See my brief response to the question below!


“Dear Jeremy, I am an undergraduate Business Management Major. I was wandering if I should work for probably 2 years after I graduate which would be in one semester. so fall 2010.  I am debating whether or going to law school or not. I am unsure about law school should I still apply?? Or go do my MBA after I work for two years? Please let me know. I just want to get a better resume and specialize in something. I am taking the LSAT but I am not sure about the law degree. If I am not sure should I still try law??”


Dear (Reader), thanks so much for your question and for reading my blog. It’s always great to see students look at their so early in their careers. Before I get going with any new information, I’d like to offer two quick pieces of advice.  First, you should always take advantage of the chance to ask specific questions during the application process. I suspect that most people will not take the time to respond to such vague questions, and even if they do, the response likely be pretty generic, because the person can’t read your mind.  Second, you should take a few minutes and check out my site a bit more.  I have a couple of posts that might be helpful. For example, I wrote a post named Early Career MBA and JD-MBA Candidates which seems pretty relevant to candidates closer to your age who are considering multiple programs.

Frame Your Decision First
Now, first off, I encourage you to create a framework for your decision before jumping too quickly into the the final decision-making process. In layman’s terms, that means think a little about why you’re applying and what factors are important in your final choice, and then frame your decision based on that. There are so many different career paths out there, many of which will feel pretty compelling at times, so you have to spend time thinking about your abilities, goals, interests, and potential to do well in each.  One way to do that is to think about the differences across the fields. For example, do have high tolerance for risk? Depending on your answer, either business or law may feel more natural. Also, do you enjoy numbers, analysis, reading, or writing? Or do you need some sort of combination?  And finally, do you need a well-structured day as a professional? What about a structured career path? A law degree tends to provide that, though not always.

A lot of students skip this process and instead apply to programs for all the wrong reasons. Maybe it’s what there parents expected, or perhaps they didn’t think of anything better to do. Even worse is that students often apply because they want the prestige of that profession or school or because they were focusing on the end game of getting a nice paycheck.  This is especially true of business schools, where students today tend to tout the post-graduation salary potential and dream of CEO or partner-level titles, rather than what they can learn, what values they might gain, what types of interesting career options they might encounter, and the diverse people they can learn from.  Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that many law school students have hopped on the bandwagon too, and although the conventional focus of law school was to “change the world,” today more students are caving in to loan repayments and are lured by high starting salaries, and no longer the transformative process of school itself. The good news is that if you do want to make money, you can do well in either, so you don’t have to make a decision solely on that basis. Thus, the question really becomes, how relevant is business school or law school (and for other readers, any other school) for you and your interests specifically, and how much will your experience in that school influence what you may want to do down the line.

Then Decide Timing
After you make progress there, then you should next think about timing because it’s a bit different for each. My general answer is that there’s no set time to apply to business school and most admissions committees will say the same thing. People apply and get in each year with zero to twenty years experience, though most get in with about four to five years, so it’s important to apply when you’re ready. And for law school, while most people tend to apply a bit sooner (one to two years), schools are starting to trend the same way.  So in that sense, timing again becomes a personal decision and less of a requirement. That said, there is also a small advantage to applying a bit earlier. Applying earlier shows focus at a young age, maturity, and may give you a head start to a better career sooner than later. But those benefits often don’t compare to the benefits of applying later. Older candidates often get access to better job opportunities, interview better, and have more to contribute to class.

Consider More Factors
And after you’ve thought about type of school and timing, you still have to balance that with fit for a program. In your case as a a potential early career candidate this means looking at things like average age of the programs, understanding that some schools tend to accept more younger or older candidates than others. For instance, if you apply only two years out of undergrad, than b-schools like Kellogg might be harder to get into because of the older average age (though some younger applicants do get in), but law schools like Northwestern Law might make more sense since because you’re two  two years of professional experience will be valued. You’ll also want to pay a bit more attention to grades as a younger candidate, especially for MBA applications, who would otherwise have weighed work experience more heavily. The general rule is that since you have less professional experience to offer, admissions offices will look at your stats more closely.

Don’t Rush

For some applicants, this process takes time, while for others it’s more immediate.  But I say, don’t give in to all the hype. Think about your aspirations and your timelines. And play to your own beat and make your own tempo. Because in the end, only you can answer this school question, because that process of discovery is individual.  Broadly speaking, I don’t think people do this enough. And this past year  a lot of  young professionals have begun stressing out. Now they’re frantically taking tests and submitting applications hoping to find a safety net, get bailed out, and get dealt a new hand.  And so, if there was ever a time to highlight the importance of reflection and making the right decision, that time is now.  Sadly, most people still won’t get this right, but if you invest the time up front and choose wisely, I suspect that your energy, excitement, and fit will reflect in your application.

Best of luck!

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Tuesday, January 26th, 2010 Business School, Law School No Comments

Applicant Question: Round 3 Application Advice On Essays and Story – #AskJeremy

What’s going on everyone. Seems like many of the MBA applicants out there have a lot more time on your hands these days now that you’ve finally turned the corner and submitted your last second round applications earlier in the week. Congratulations and be sure to take a well-deserved breather. But for some of you, the application cycle still lives. I’ve gotten a few emails from some of applicants who got a little gun shy at the last minute, others wanted to submit to a few extra schools just to be sure, and a couple of people wanted to do a little shoe shining and polish up your applications before going through with submitting.  And so that brings me to a question I recently received from a JD-MBA applicant, who wanted to get a bit of clarity on his essay strategy as well as a bit of insight on applying in the third round since he decided not to submit in round two.  See a small portion of our Q&A below.

Original Email From Applicant

“Hey Jeremy, I really enjoy your blog – thanks for taking the time to update as you do! I know you must be terribly busy with all the questions/calls you’ve been getting but I wanted to give a shot at getting your advice.

I’m not sure the precise path I’d like to take post JD/MBA – I see myself open to a few different options such as IB work, government or entrepreneurship. Sometimes I defend my uncertainty by thinking it’s naive and silly of me to even set my mind on something with all the variables and changing landscape.

How much emphasis is placed on having concrete goals post graduation? How would you advise someone handle this issue in the essays? Perhaps just focus on the most likely or suitable path given my background and leave the others out?

I’d really appreciate your thoughts and wish me luck!

Best Regards,

My Response To Original Email From Applicant

Hi (Name), I’ve begun writing my response and plan to respond shortly. You look like a potential good fit for the program. When do you plan to submit your application. Round 2?


Another Email From Applicant

“Hi Jeremy, I’m very pleased to hear from you! Unfortunately it looks like I will be submitting in R3 and perhaps reapplying early next cycle if things don’t work out. R3 must be a killer eh?

I’m still not exactly sure how to sell myself and present my goals given my 4yrs experience in finance but diverse interests as I mentioned already. I just want to make sure that I have my story straight before I apply. I’ll be waiting to hear your thoughts – thanks so much for taking the time!

Best Regards,

My Quick Response To Applicant

Hey (Name), keep your head up for round 3. I don’t think it’s an absolute impossibility, especially if you take the time to turn in a great application. Stay tuned for my response email.

My Final Response

Hi (Name),

Thanks again for your original message and for checking out my blog.  I’m glad you like the site and find my posts to be informative. Please keep checking back for new posts and articles as you navigate the application cycle.

So your situation is a tough one, and perhaps equally as tough as some people find it to apply in the third round. I hope you’re up to the challenge! I’ll start my response with a bit of high-level advice regarding your decision to apply in round three, and not two.  As I previously mentioned, it’s not at all impossible to be admitted in round three. I know a couple of people in the program now who have made it across the round three finish line. That said, these admits were doing some serious springing across that line, not jogging,  because these guys were really accomplished, and I suspect that their applications were pretty stellar. And so my broad advice to applicants is that  if you’re considering applying in two different rounds but not sure which, then shoot for the earlier of the two.  Given the sudden skyrocketing number of b-school and JD-MBA applications, on the margin, earlier is usually better.

But that’s old news now, since you’re applying in round three and since you didn’t feel ready last round. But you’re definitely doing the right thing by submitting now in round three rather than waiting. If you’re admitted, then you’ll be jumping for joy out of your seat at work come May, and you won’t have to hide the good news for long.  On the other hand, even if you’re not admitted this year, then you’ll be in a much better position to do a little sprinting in round one of next year, and Kellogg will be expecting your application.

Now, let’s talk a little strategy for your application. For one, keep in mind that the third rounds exists for a reason. And if schools didn’t want it, they simply wouldn’t take applications, like Tuck and Sloan don’t.  I suspect that this is especially true in the Kellogg JD-MBA program because the class size is small, the program has fewer applicants, and the class compositions is just as important as all the fancy class statistics and the number of consultants and bankers in the class.  In fact, my completely unverified but strikingly plausible personal opinion is that the admissions team relies so heavily on fit that they go into round three every year with VERY open mind, ready and willing to admit standout applicants who come into play.  So relax the nerves a little about round three, but also get ready to put the petal to the metal so you can stand out. It just may pay dividends.

Also,  you hit the nail on the head in your email in regards to essays. Part of standing out means putting together first-class essays … essays that both articulate a compelling story about the past, convey interesting plans for the future, and include persuasive reasons for how the dual program fits in the middle. That means the more persuasive and lively you write the better. It also means the more structured you discuss your ideas and relate them together, the better.  Now keep in mind, by structured I don’t mean 100% specific. But I would suggest that your response is logical, organized, and pretty targeted.

During rounds one and two, my impression is that most admits do this pretty well.  I’d go further to say that almost all round three admits have done this.  Unlike MBA programs that have hundreds seats to fill and dozens of those seats reserved for people who still need to do some soul searching, the JD-MBA program gives less time for that. Because we split our time between two campuses and ultimately spend less time than our classmates at each, we have to be a bit more deliberate and decisive.  So you’d do yourself a favor to show that trait in your essays, by either proving that you have a plan, or that you can come up with one quickly.  And then Kellogg can then have an easier time walking away from your application with a clear picture of who you are and why you want the dual degree, whether it’s specifically to be an I-banker, government leader, or entrepreneur, or if it serves more broad goals such as impacting your way of thinking, expanding a certain skill set, or giving you the boost you need to switch industries. There’s generally no right answer to “career choice” questions.

So try do some soul searching in the next few weeks, think deeply about what’s most appealing and what suits your background, and at some point soon take a stand on putting your career story together, coming up with something as specific as you’re comfortable with. Once you do so, use that story to synthesize an overall vision for your essay package. Then structure each essay to convey something different about that vision, while also showcasing new skills and picking new stories for elaboration. And finally, be sure to talk about how the dual degree fits into all of that.  And in the end, I suspect that you’ll be more confident about your story than you had in round two.

Hopefully that helps a bit. Good Luck!


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Thursday, January 21st, 2010 Admissions, AskJeremy 2 Comments

#AskJeremy (Applicant Question): Is My GMAT “Good Enough” To Get In ?

Hi there everyone–I recently received an email from a really excited reader who is applying to business school but is concerned about her GMAT score. She is a potential applicant to the JD-MBA program in next year in 2011, and she sent me a message to ask my opinion.  I’ve written her a response below, but I preface that by saying, usually, the “is my GMAT high enough” dilemma is one of those questions that there’s probably no right answer to and that’s ultimately up to the applicant.  But I did provide her with a little context. Hopefully it is helpful for everyone. Check out our email exchange below.

Email Message From Sender

“Hi Jeremy, I’m thinking (and really hoping) to get into Northwestern’s program. I really need some advice on whether I should take the GMAT again (I just got a 660 but know I choked on the math section). I’ve been working in Egypt for a 1.5 now and it will be 3 years by the time I start – I’m planning on starting fall 2011. I work for the International Finance Corporation (part of the World Bank) working in communications. I’m also sitting for the first round of the CFA exam in June. A lot of people keep telling me the international experience will mean more than the GMAT, but I’d really appreciate some advice from seeing the backgrounds of fellow classmates etc if you think its necessary to retake the GMATs.”

Hi (Removed)

Thanks so much for writing, and for checking out my blog. I’m glad you’re interested in Northwestern’s program. I hope you do apply next year and encourage you to apply in round one for the best shot at getting in.

I generally like to give two pieces of advice to “completing” business school applicants.  First, you want to be satisfied with your work on every part of the application, at least to the extent possible.  Second, you want to balance that satisfaction with not juggling too many pieces of the application at the same time—GMAT, essays, class visits, supplementary classes, etc—and possibly dropping the ball on one or multiple pieces.  Now given you’re not applying until 2011, you should have plenty of time to avoid excessive juggling, so you should not automatically rule out the GMAT. Here’s why.

With the economic downturn, the past two years for MBA admissions have been pretty unrivaled in terms of applications, both in number and in quality. Applicantions are literally coming out of every corner and every part of the world imaginable. Average GPAs, GMATs, and number of degrees are higher than ever.  And people are literally taking the GMAT time and time again aiming for scores well above 700.  That said, the rule of thumb is that top programs like to see you hit the 80th percentile on both sections (quant and qual) of the GMAT, and especially the quantitative section to prove you can handle the curriculum.

But no need to fret if you don’t attain that score  There are always plenty of people that get in t0 top programs every year with scores below 80th percentile as well as with below total scores below the median. In fact, most top MBA program a really large number of kids in this range, including Kellogg.  Some of those are like you and have finance experience. But others may not have that experience. One caveat I’ll mention about the JD-MBA program here is that the average scores for one class tends to be slightly higher than Kellogg’s.  I suspect that happens for two reasons. One is that fewer “alternative career” students apply to this program given the cost. Second, is because the LSAT is not required for admission here, so a higher GMAT score might indicate that a student is well-prepared to hand both sets of classes. The range is usually about 15 to 20 points higher for the dual program, which is by no means insignificant. (Click here for details) I suspect the same types of differences exist in any other dual programs you may be considering.

So what does this mean for you?  Overall that’s a tough question for me to answer. That might depend on your original target score, how many times you’ve taken the test, how well you did on the practice exams, and how busy you are at work. If you were aiming higher and were hitting 700s on practice tests, then you may want to consider retaking it, especially given the time you have and considering the economy. But if that weren’t the case, and you did everything you possibly could to get your 660, then the payoff might not be worth it.

Here is an analogy I used to give when I was part of my Undergraduate Admissions Team a few years ago.  I used to tell the high school students that the SAT (GMAT or readers here) test score was just a hygiene factor. I said they should think about it like they were going on a date. And if you have bad breadth (i.e. bad hygiene) on the date, then chances are you won’t be getting a second one.  On the other hand, if you have good breadth, that also won’t get you a second date. But it does allow the other person to concentrate on the more important things and then decide from there.

Similarly, when applying to an MBA program, the real key is just getting a GMAT score that does not keep the admissions team from learning about “more important things” from your essays, work experiences, and leadership potential. For most schools, you can estimate that number based on the ranges they publish on their websites. And your positioning in that range should couple with how strong of an overall applicant you are otherwise. In your case, don’t forget to factor in the you’d be on the lowest end for age range for the JD-MBA program, as the “average age” admitted to the program is almost five years out and the lowest age is usually three years out.  Also, I agree that your international experience will certainly be valued and may affect your comfort level with your GMAT when applying.

I know this may not be as direct an answer as you wanted.  But I hope it helps. Thanks for writing and best of luck over the next year.

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Monday, January 18th, 2010 Admissions, AskJeremy, Business School 6 Comments

Applicant Question: Playing the MBA Wait-List Game

What’s going on everyone. We’re one week into the 2010 year here at Northwestern. Hope everyone is still keeping up with those New Year’s resolutions! But don’t worry, I won’t hold you to them to keep reading. I’ve definitely got a couple resolutions myself, including a pretty big one that relates to my website. But you’ll have to stay tuned a bit longer to watch it unfold. I also have a pretty large number of ideas cooking up for future posts and articles, but today I’m going to keep them on the back burner because I’ve got something a little better than that, at least for a select few of you.

Now that we’re right in the middle of the MBA application season, I’ve been getting lots of messages so I thought I’d share a couple of my responses here on my website. I figured I’d start with a recent question I received about being on the Northwestern JD-MBA waitlist. It sounds like my reader feels like he’s stuck in limbo and is ready to be rescued or at least get a little closure from Kellogg. I don’t blame him, I usually like to have closure myself.

But I’d like to add one caveat before I give out any information, which is to keep in mind that I don’t work for Kellogg and that I’m not a member on their MBA Admission team. Instead, I’m a student at Northwestern who is simply offering my time and personal website to respond to a few email questions and ultimately share some really good information with applicants in the b-school world, as I’m sure quite a few of you will appreciate the favor. As readers on my site, I also hope that you will feel free to return the favor, and leave comments and send messages when something peaks your interest.

Okay, so to get back to business, I suspect there are a number of readers all across the U.S. sitting on the edge of their seats and hitting the refresh button every couple of minutes as they wait for update emails, pondering this exact same question. “What do I do now?”

So I’ve decided to answer the question as broadly as possible so that more people might benefit. Take a look below for my reader’s question, and then look below that for my response.

Good luck on your quests everyone !


Dear Jeremy,

Hi, my name is (REMOVED) from (REMOVED). I was introduced to your blog by a friend a few months back and since have been following your entries closely. Think it’s just awesome that you can maintain such a resourceful blog while on your 1st year at law school!

To give you a quick introduction of myself and my situation, I’ve done 4 years of investment banking (REMOVED) in (REMOVED) and also understanding the potential synergies from a mix of business and law knowledge and experiences, am too seeking a JD/MBA degree. Thus, I had resigned (voluntary) from (REMOVED) in October to sit the December LSAT. My initial plan was to apply to a bunch (top 10) of MBAs and Law schools and go the one that I get acceptance from both (excluding of course Northwestern, NYU and Duke where they have integrated applications).. But I guess 2 months was not enough to get me fully prepped for the LSAT. Did not feel good about the test and had to cancel. Also I’ve naturally applied to the Northwestern 3yr JD/MBA but was notified this past week that I am waitlisted. Very frustrated as Northwestern was of course my #1 choice with the 3 yr program and the most integrated curriculum..

I was wondering if you would have any insight or tips, waitlist strategies.. For Kellogg in general and if any different, JD/MBA program specific. Any classmates who got admission after being waitlisted, what actions they took after being waitlisted etc. Also do you think the admissions committee be impressed if one makes a campus visit? You understand the state of mind I am in right? Think I can do just about anything for admission but just feeling helpless..

I saw from your blog that school started again this past week, hope I’m not bothering you too much. Any information, tips, stories would be greatly helpful. Many thanks in advance!

Best regards,



Hello (REMOVED),

I hope this message finds you well and finds you in time. I know you probably feel pretty tense right now. It’s a tough year for applying to school and you’ve almost made it across the finish line here in round one, so congratulations. But I know congratulations is the last thing you want to hear, so I’ll try to focus mostly on the tangible steps that someone on the waitlist may or may not want to take.

First off, students on the waitlist get in to top schools every year. For many of them, the waitlist ends up being nothing more than a long line at a new movie, and after standing in line for a bit they are granted a ticket of admission. I know a couple of Kellogg students who got in last year, and there are also students here in the JD-MBA program that had the same experience. For others, the waitlist ends up being more like purgatory and requires a serious gut check, because there’s really not much you can do but wait to see how the school responds. At the end of the day, there are a lot of factors that admissions teams are balancing–individual fit, class composition, predictability of the next round of applicants, employability, diversity, current school needs, and more–so it’s impossible for me, and probably even them, to tell you exactly how things will turn out so early in the game. But I’ll start with a few general ideas and go from there.

As a general reference point for everyone, you should always follow the directions in your decision letter to a ‘T’. If a school tells you they don’t want updates, then don’t shoot yourself in the foot by sending them extra information. Instead sit back, relax, put your feet up on the couch, and wait for them to come calling. But, if a school tells you that they do want to hear updates, than don’t even think about downshifting gears, because you’ve got some work to do if you really want in.

Generally, the waitlisted applicants are considered solid candidates, even star candidates. Now is the time to showcase more subtle aspects of your profile. Be ready to articulate your story again, but this time better. Give them a few golden nuggets you may have forgotten to dig out from your past and put in your essays. Also, distinguish how you stand out from the other number-crunching bankers, consultants, or whatever professional you are (emailer in this case was a banker) and how you can add perspective to the classroom. And be more introspective the next few weeks, so that you’re better prepared to talk about your leadership or entrepreneurial goals. Instead of using industry buzz words, overused resume verbs, and clichéd MBA language, think more deeply about your leadership style and talk more about stuff that motivates you, what you did, how you felt, and what you learned. And if you’re really up to it, try really spilling your guts a bit more and really putting the details out there—always remembering to stay professional of course, as this is business school—because this might just be your last chance.

In your specific case (NAME REMOVED), you should definitely take a bit more of a deep breadth. Making the waitlist in a class that only targets 25 students is a big accomplishment. To that end, I’ll note that your request for a distinction between Kellogg and the JD-MBA program is not relevant for you. As an applicant to the dual program, you are not an applicant to Kellogg. Personally, I’ve never heard of any changes of that sort, and if it did happen, it would have to be highly discretionary. But in regards to the JD-MBA waitlist, I don’t have any factual information to share (and if I did, it’d probably be top secret anyhow) but my impression, as I mentioned above, is that JD-MBA students do get off the waitlist fairly regularly. Of course, the odds could sway like a pendulum from year to year, depending on the number of applicants, the yield rate from round one, the caliber of applicants (and subsequent yield rate) from round two, and the number of applicants in round three, leaving you potentially swimming in a pool with a tank of MBA sharks on the worst of years and still leaving you in limbo most every other year. But that’s pretty hard to predict. The good news about getting waitlisted in round one is that you still have two more rounds to get accepted. And if this is your top choice, you’ll still be there sticking it out on the WL while the faint of heart and risk averse go running off to other schools. The real irony with that is that lawyers tend to be risk averse, so staying around might be a catch-22. And the bad news is that exact same fact, that you may have to wait two more rounds before finding out, and that will feel like an eternity, especially if things don’t go according to plan.

Also (REMOVED), from what I’ve heard about Kellogg—though I can’t say anything for certain–is that they are one of those schools that may decide they want more information from you down the line. So while it’s never smart to pester admissions, you should be sure to be ready in case they do ask you for more information. As I said above, take a look in your letter, and if you’re uncertain utilize the Kellogg Admissions office just to be sure.

If at some point now or later they do ask for information, then that is your chance to shine. Think about the suggestions I mentioned above. And since the JD-MBA program here is so small and customized, you might also think about ways to show why want both degrees and what you plan to do with them. That’s something that most, if not all, the JD-MBAs did well in the application process. Further, you may want to discuss how those career goals came about. Are they rooted somewhere in your past or present, or are you simply hoping to stack up a couple more degrees and make some cash when you graduate–don’t let them assume it’s the second by not clearly saying! And once you do that, then you might think about what you’ve done so far to prove that passion and how you can continue at Northwestern, and doing so by differentiating both schools. And just to cover my bases, I’ll also say that every year students from all schools retake GMATs, take extra courses, figure out ways to cover weaknesses, tell them about promotions, and more. It’s up to you whether you think that will help, and unfortunately I don’t have any data at all on how many people here have done or have considered doing that. I suspect that it would be fewer than more, but that’s simply a guess. And every year, the stars do align for a lucky few candidates, even here in the JD-MBA program. So try to stay positive for now, it’s still early.

Now finally, I’ve included a few more pieces of information. First, is a response to your question about visiting campus. Kellogg clearly states on it website (click here), that visint will not increase your chances of admission Though in all your decisions, you should keep in mind that Kellogg and Northwestern JD-MBA are not run exactly the same, and that who knows what someone may take into account when the margins are small enough.

Second, check out the Kellogg admissions blog to see if they have any updates for the JD-MBA program. Click here for the site. Doesn’t look they post regularly, but might be worth taking a look.

And finally, I’ve included a link to an OLD thread in a Businessweek MBA forum. It relates to Kellogg only, but it’s one of the few pieces of information about Kellogg’s waitlist preferences online. Given its date I strongly suggest NOT relying on it, but it might be a useful reference point for some readers. Click here for the link.

Best of luck (REMOVED) !

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Monday, January 11th, 2010 Admissions 6 Comments

MBA Essay Advice From John Rice, Founder of Management Leadership for Tomorrow

Lately I’ve been getting lots of calls from old friends and classmates applying to business school and looking for a bit of advice. Some applied during round one and are getting anxious to hear back. They ask me about their chances of admission, and want to know what i think in light of 2009’s economic challenges (check out my new post on that topic). Others are frantically wrapping up round two applications and call with more specific questions. I was in the exact same process last year, and I remember how stressful things feel in the last few days. This is especially true if you’re submitting applications to some of the heavy hitters, whose deadlines are fast approaching (List of MBA Deadlines).

As a result, January is usually one of the hardest times of the year for applicants. Not only are applicants scrambling around to pull their application materials together while also cramming to fine-tune their essays before the deadline but they’re also sitting on pins and needles worrying whether they’ll get in to the schools they applied to in the first round. But the best thing to do now is sit back and relax a little. This is completely normal. I still remember these feelings of anxiety and uncertainly like I had them yesterday, But I still ended up doing really well, so in the end, these feelings were never really all that relevant except for motivating me to work harder. In my opinion however, what was most relevant were the essays. In fact, I consider the essays to be the most significant part of the application by far, and in my experience, the best business school applicants spend a significant amount of time writing so they can develop their stories. Similarly, you should also make sure you’re happy with your essays and hold off on submitting everything until you’re absolutely finished.

That said, the point of this post is to pass along a few final tips on how to ensure you’ve submitted the best possible business school essays possible. The advice actually comes John Rice, an HBS grad, business school admissions guru, and founder of Management Leadership For Tomorrow (MLT, MLT is a national non-profit organization dedicated to developing diverse leaders and professionals, and it is an organization I’m proud to be part of. (As usual, I can never really say enough about how valuable MLT is) I’ll note that John originally posted his information on a website named GottaMentor ( which which was co-founded by his wife Andrea Rice and is a social networking site created for high potential professionals to share information. All the B-school applicants, students, and graduates out there should definitely check it out. Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn, and other networking sites, Gotta Mentor is geared specifically toward business professionals and “allows you to engage people who will add true value to YOUR career.” Have a look at John’s article below and ionce you finish up the essays, come back and check out Gotta Mentor as well.

Good luck!

Source: Gotta Mentor
Author: John Rice
Title: Business School Essays That Get You In

Here is an excerpt from John’s Article

“One of the most important aspects of applying to business school is understanding how to tell your story in a way that translates your strengths and accomplishments into high potential for positive impact at your target MBA campus and later as a leader over the course of your post-MBA career. Focus the body of your story on articulating and illustrating the following things:

1. What you are passionate about and why, and what that implies for your long-term career goals. Your story should focus on what you want to accomplish in life/why and secondarily how business school fits into that plan. Failing to be introspective and genuine about what you really care about and what you really want to do with your life virtually eliminates the chance that you will tell a unique, memorable, and compelling story. Many applicants make the mistake of …. ” (Click here to see the rest of John’s essays advice)

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Tuesday, January 5th, 2010 Admissions, Business School No Comments

Congratulations Kellogg 2012 Round 1 Admits