Admissions

Applicant Question: Waitlisted Applicant Seeks Law School Interview Advice?

What if I told you that your stellar professional record, strong academic training, or even esteemed Ivy League school had nothing to do with whether you ended up landing a job? Or conversely, that your glaring lack of experience and the inconsistency on your resume wouldn’t disqualify you? That it all came down to one shot. And the ball was in your court?  Well, in this case, that one shot happens to be at law school and it happens to be tomorrow.

I recently received a question from one of my readers. He was notified about his upcoming interview at Northwestern Law School.  He was originally placed on the waitlist, but just found out that he now has an interview this week.  In fact, it’s tomorrow!  I didn’t get much information on his profile, but given he was waitlisted here, I suspect he’s probably pretty qualified.  As I may have suggested above, this doesn’t actually mean that his profile is no longer relevant. Instead it was more of an analogy, that the interview is critical and may be the deciding factor in the decision. So now, it will be up to him to close the deal. Take a look below for his question, and for my response. I tried to keep my response brief, so I could send the sooner rather than later.

HIS ORIGINAL MESSAGE
Hi Jeremy,

I have an interview for the JD program on (day), (month) (day). I am currently on the waitlist and am looking forward to it. Do you have any suggestions on how I can approach it. Or on how I can maximize my visit?

Thanks,
(name)


Hi (name)

Thanks so much for the note and for reading my blog. I’m glad that you find the information helpful.  As I mentioned, I’m going to keep this response brief given the unfortunate late timing of our discussion.  Also, given that I don’t know much about you or your profile, most of this advice will be general, though I’ll try to tailor some of it to Northwestern and to a waitlisted application.  I’ll also note that I’m not on the admissions team at NU Law nor did I interview there to get in. As a JD-MBA candidate, I applied and interviewed through Kellogg. And although the law school looked over my application and ultimately had a say in the decision, I did not sit with them for an interview.

OK, so generally, it’s rare that anyone is 100% prepared for an interview, mostly because that’s impossible. So the good news is that there’s usually no need to stress memorizing every detail or stay up all night over-preparing, as it often doesn’t do much good if you invest too much time in areas that never come up. That approach also tends to make interviews sound a bit too formulaic. The bad news is more obvious; that you probably won’t have time to know all the answers, or even most of them, and at points you may not feel prepared. But in my experience that’s OK, because it’s more importantly that you think critically about the issues and provide a thoughtful and authentic response, in place of memorized responses, especially given the short time period left.

To that end, I thought I’d write a couple of things that I like to think about when prepping for an interview. From a 30,000 foot-view, I typically tend to look at four things: research, your application, interview flow, and questions.

1. Research. Research. Research. My opinion is that in any interview, you have to know the organization you’re interviewing for stone cold. You’ll want to know the ins and outs, and not only about the organization but also its industry, top competitors, thought leaders, and future prospects.  And you should also be prepared to demonstrate that knowledge by talking about it analytically, not just factually. In your case, that’s Northwestern Law. So you might consider researching programs, people, events, clinics, culture, and recent program changes, and try to uncover all the things that make Northwestern Law stand out, and how that compares to other schools. Find out the nuances that make it unique, both from the perspective of the school (i.e. age, experience, etc) and also why those nuances are important to you specifically.

2.  Know Your Application In light of the last sentence, you should also be crystal clear on how all of that comes back to you and your application. Because in the end, Northwestern wants people who want to be there. So it’s often beneficial to remember what your essays said, and be prepared to discuss both the big picture a well as the details. Doing so, it’s often helpful to think about why you said that in your application, and where those decisions stemmed from. Conversely, some interviewers like to see that an applicant has also formulated concrete goals going forward, and demonstrated that they’ve thought about a time frame to achieve them. Sound like a lot of information? That’s because it is. And as such, I often think it’s a good idea to stay on the high-impact issues, unless the interviewer walks you down a different path. High impact issues can often be critical in shorter interviews because time is limited, the stakes are high, and in many cases those issues add deep value to your candidacy. And that’s why it’s important to know your application, both weakness and strengths, so you can invest time appropriately.

3. Interview Flow. On the other hand, I wouldn’t suggest being too robotic in that approach. After all, it’s possible that you and the interview may view “critical” quite differently.  But more importantly, in my personal experience, sometimes there’s also a lot of merit in the ebb and flow of a good conversation.  And I suspect that in some cases, good conversation will feel more natural, may help you initiate a stronger connection, and ultimately may lead to other important issues. So in the end, you’ll have to feel your way through carefully and think a lot about the “interview flow.” For the most part, it should be natural, but you also may want to pay attention to the details. For example, you have to be sure to listen closely to details, and clarify questions if needed. You should also feel free to take the lead if an important issue arises. Reading the interviewer, you may want to expand on an important point in the discussion, or introduce a new issue that might need addressed. Further, it’s possible the interviewer may want to discuss a singular issue, and talk about substantive issues for 5, 10, or  even 20 minutes. Northwestern Law likes older candidates for this very reason.  Because older more mature candidates should be able to adapt, and because they suspect an older candidate has more experience to draw from and can talk longer about difficult topics.  So it’s up to you to do this, and the flow of the conversation can play a big part.

4. Questions. Last but not least, don’t forget about the questions! This should be an obvious point, but candidates in all types of interviews surprising tend to struggle.  And in my opinion, this part is critical. It not only shows that you’re prepared, interested, and that you’re listening but it also shows the level of research you’ve done beforehand and illustrates a bit about your decision-making skills, which are inherent in the actual questions you ask. And my personal opinion is that an interviewer will form opinions based on your questions.  Generally, the cardinal rule for school interviews is that you should ask too many questions you can find on the website or that you could have asked a student on way to the admissions office.  Which leads me to my final though. Consider the audience. If you want to know about specific career placement rates or stats about where alumni live now, it’s possible that the career center or alumni themselves might be a better resource. So be sure to ask questions that your interviewer will have been exposed to and also enjoy answering.

Good luck!

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Tuesday, March 30th, 2010 Admissions, Law School 1 Comment

2010 Law School Rankings: National Law Journal’s Go-to Schools

How bad did law school graduates have it in 2009? This is the question everyone’s been wondering. But now we finally have a little data to shed some light on the situation. The National Law Journal‘s annual Go-To Law School List recently came out with its 2010 rankings of with the highest percentage of law school graduates hired by firms (NLJ 250 law). The bad news is that the No. 1 school sent less than 56% to NLJ 250 law firms (down from 71%). But, for Northwestern, there’s at least a little good news.

Just yesterday at Northwestern, we received an email from Dean Van Zandt. His message was to inform everyone about the survey and about our top spot on the list. Rankings aside, it’s good to know that the Dean and career center are doing there best to do well in today’s tough legal market. I suspect and hope that in 2011, the percentages will be a lot better for everyone. I guess we’ll see how things ultimately play out.

Here is a small piece of the Dean’s message below.

Dean’s Message:
“I am pleased to share that Northwestern Law holds the No. 1 spot.  This is the third consecutive year that we have ranked in the top 5 (we were 5th in 2008 and 2nd in 2007).

The list of “go-to” schools was compiled from recruiting information that law firms provided on the 2009 NLJ 250, the National Law Journal’s annual survey of the nation’s largest law firms.  As the article indicates, 2009 saw a definite decline in first-year associate employment at the nation’s 250 largest law firms, so the percentages are down across the board this year.

While the difficult economy continues to present immediate challenges to students hitting the job market, our placement in the top spot on this list is a testament to our strong reputation.  This is the second time this year that we have been ranked No. 1 in an employment-based ranking.  In the fall, Princeton Review ranked Northwestern Law No. 1 for Best Career Prospects.”

For reference, the top 15 law schools are (percent hired by NLJ 250 in parentheses):

2010 Rankings
1.  Northwestern Law   (55.9)
2.  Columbia Law School  (54.4)
3.  Stanford Law School   (54.1)
4.  University of Chicago  (53.1)
5.  University of Virginia   (52.8)
6.  University of Michigan  (51)
7.  University of Pennsylvania  (50.8)
8.  New York University  (50.1)
9.  University of California, Berkeley  (50)
10. Duke Law School  (49.8)
11. Harvard   (47.6)
12. Vanderbilt  (47.1)
13. Georgetown (42.8)
14. Cornell  (41.5)
15. University of Southern California  (41.3)

Also for reference, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog makes mention of our ranking.  To read the full story, click here”

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Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010 Admissions, Law School 4 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 !

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READER’S EMAIL TO ME

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,

(NAME)

————–
MY RESPONSE TO READER’S EMAIL

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

Kellogg MBA and JD-MBA Application Deadlines

I recently received an email from an applicant asking me to post the due date for the Kellogg business school application. Both the Kellogg and the JD-MBA applications are due this upcoming Thursday on October 15. I suspect many of you have been working hard the past one or two weeks turning in applications to a few other top schools but don’t let this stop you from turning in the best application possible this Thursday.

Don’t forget that people will likely be applying to b-school in hordes again this year because of the economy, just like last year, where at many schools Round 1 had a 25%-35% increase. In fact, some people predict this year will be even worse. As such, it’s important to put your best foot forward before hitting the submit button. Generally this means doing things like making sure you actually answer the essay questions, putting the correct school name in your essays, meticulously double-checking the data form for errors and completeness, ensuring that you complied with the essay formatting requirements, ensuring you get the letters of recommendation in on time, and double checking to make sure you’ve squeezed everything possible into your essays. Once you’ve done all that, then you’ve done all that you can, so just take a sigh of relief, submit, and relax a bit because it’s going to be a long season of waiting to hear back. It always is.

I’ll also reiterate something I’ve said in a previous post. If you are considering applying in either Round 1 or Round 2, but not sure if you’re ready to submit to Kellogg this week (or to any school), schools will always encourage you to apply when your application is best. Historically applicants have applied heavily to both rounds, but slightly more people do apply to round 2. As a result, round 2 is often more competitive in terms of the “number of applicants.” My two pieces of personal advice are 1) that you should always put your best foot forward and 2) that on the margin, earlier is better.

For reference, see below for a full list of important application dates. Best of luck to everyone, and I hope to see many of you at Kellogg’s admit weekend this year!

2009-2010 Kellogg Deadlines and Notification Dates

Round 1
Deadline: October 15, 2009
Notification: January 11, 2010

Round Two
Deadline: January 14, 2010
Notification: March 29, 2010

Round Three
Deadline: March 4, 2010
Notification: May 17, 2010

Click here for the official Kellogg page.

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Monday, October 12th, 2009 Admissions, Business School 3 Comments

Kellogg Preview Weekend

Hi everyone, I wanted to quickly pass along the information for the Kellogg Preview Weekend. Kellogg Preview is a minority prospective weekend for this year’s Kellogg applicants. I went last year, and it was a lot of fun. It was a great chance to mingle with lots of potential Kellogg students, many who actually ended up at Kellogg. It was also a great chance to see firsthand what it would be like to be a student at both Kellogg and the JD-MBA program. And it was also a good time to do your interview on campus with an admissions staff member.

I plan to be stop by the event this year, so I hope to see some of you there. Keep in mind that if you do end up at Kellogg next year, we’ll be classmates because I’m spending my time at the law school this year and will start at Kellogg in 2010.

See below for official info on our event. If you are considering going, then I suggest you consider signing up soon because last year the event filled up. Also, note that although the event targets a specific audience, it is open to all prospective students.

Below is the official Kellogg blurb on the event. Feel free to use my comment box to ask any questions about the event.

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Kellogg Preview: Minority Prospective Student Weekend – November 13-14, 2009

The admissions office along with the Africa Business Club, Black Management Association and Hispanic Business Student Association are excited to once again host this annual event. Over this two day event, participants will enjoy mock classes with Professor Harry Kraemer and Professor Steve Rogers and connect with an assigned KPW Buddy while interacting with students from the larger Kellogg community.

To register for these and our off-campus events, visit our website.

We look forward to meeting you soon!

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Saturday, October 3rd, 2009 Admissions, Business School, Diversity 4 Comments

Are You At A Recruiting Disadvantage Because of Summer Classes In The Northwestern JD-MBA Program

Hey all, so I recently received a good question from a prospective Northwestern JD-MBA applicant.

“I know that the Northwestern accelerated program requires you to be in law school for the first summer. Do you feel that puts you at a disadvantage with interning and securing a job post-school?”

—-

So, as an entering first year student, I’ll confess that I’m not an expert on all JD-MBA career paths, but I’m happy to give my opinion based on my research and based on talking to dozens of students and alumni of the program.

So my first comment is that JD-MBAs rarely have issues during the recruiting season. Every summer and every year well before graduation, 100% of JD-MBAs are employed at top firms. While this year may prove to be a bit different due to the “odd” economic times, I suspect JD-MBAs at Northwestern will still do quite well.

Here are a couple of statistics from this year’s summer.

-19 out of 23 are working at law firms (all best of the best firms)
– Most of those have spots at Cravath, Kirkland, and Skadden

– 4 of 23 are working at businesses
– Of those, 2 are doing consulting, 1 is at her family’s company, and 1 is doing investment banking

But don’t let the numbers fool you, a pretty large number of people in the program are interested in business. From my conversations, it seems like the breakdown towards law is 1) slightly exaggerated due to the economy and 2) weighted towards law since not doing a legal internship precludes you from getting a law job after graduation, whereas you can always go back to business if you don’t like law during the summer. That said, the stats are not totally far off. 19 of 23 is 82% this year, though I’ve heard the usual is around 3/4.

Upon graduation, the final split is usually closer to 50/50, and graduates generally go to premier law firms, top three consulting firms (M/B/B), investment banks, VC/PE, and other. The other category is usually pretty interesting and has included companies in media, sports, government (federal and state clerkships), non profits, real estate firms, and hedge funds. With options like these, I think it’s fair to say that there is no disadvantage at all to taking classes the first summer. I say enjoy the time in coursework, explore diverse career opportunities that you may not have otherwise thought about, and engage in topics you are interested in, whether it’s at the law school or at Kellogg, and whether it pays really well or not.

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Saturday, August 29th, 2009 Uncategorized No Comments

Early Career MBA & JD-MBA Applicants

I recently came across an email from a reader who’s looking into JD-MBA programs. She’s currently beginning her senior year in college, and she asked me to provide her with some general advice for applying to JD-MBA programs. So I wanted to take a few moments to share “some” of my answer here and also discuss the idea of early career MBA applicants, which definitely has been getting a lot of buzz the last few years.

Good afternoon,

My name is (removed). I am currently going into my senior at (Removed) University. I have always showed a strong liking for law and legal studies and have always favored business due to the fact that it’s forever changing, and there is always something new to learn regardless of which direction one may choose. As my senior year approaches I am looking into continuing my studies rather than taking time off, working and then jumping back into them. As I was doing some research, I came across your blogs and found them quite informational. It seems that you have accepted your offering into the JD/MBA program at Northwestern and as someone about to embark on the journey of applying to various business schools and law schools I would like to know your thoughts of the process. I have looked into Northwestern’s JD/MBA program and it is one of my top two schools since I have found only four/five that I genuinely feel are perfect matches for me. Since you were once in my position can you give me any advice that will be helpful to me as I begin my application process?

I look forward to your insights. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Hi (Removed)

Thanks so much for writing and for checking out my blog. I’m glad you find the information useful and that you’re interested in JD-MBA programs and interested in Northwestern’s dual program.

I’ll try to provide you with a bit of information, though I’ll keep much of it general, given I don’t know many details about your profile, and because you’re still completing your undergraduate degree.

Business schools have traditionally preferred applicants like me (with 4 to 5 years of work experience) over those like you (with less work experience) The idea is that someone who has more professional experiences is better equipped to contribute to class and section discussions, and also can better understand much of the practical business coursework. Having visited a number of schools and sat in on classes at each of them, I think that older students did add more to the classroom dynamic and discussions. But it wasn’t true in every circumstance.

Statistically, this preference has especially been true at Kellogg, where the average years of work experience is closer to five years, and where traditionally very few applicants have ever been taken straight from undergrad. In fact, reportedly a few years back, Kellogg didn’t accept a single student straight from undergrad. That said, although Kellogg has not completely followed the trend of seeking out younger candidates, they have expressed some interest in the idea. According to Beth Flye in 2008 in an online chat, 15-20% are younger candidates (which she defines as 2-3 years of experience) and on the record, she said that Kellogg would like to see more applications from more of these top candidates.

Although I headed back after 4 years out (will be 5 years when I matriculate at Kellogg) I actually considered applying for an MBA two years out of school. Unfortunately, that idea was not in my control and it was  short-lived because the start-up firm I worked for suddenly went out of business. Although I was definitely set on going back to school early, in retrospect, it worked out well. Not only did I gain some interesting experiences afterward, but it’s also pretty clear to me that I’m better prepared to head back now after my additional work and community experiences.

Although this is true for most applicants, MBA programs have still been trending down in terms of preferred years of experience. Today, many of the top schools strongly consider applicants with 0 to 2 years of experience as much as they consider older applicants. Of the elite schools, Stanford, Harvard, and Sloan are taking younger kids in hordes, and they’re doing it even moreso today than they did a few years ago when I thought of applying.

If I had to give advice to younger applicants when applying, first I’d say that stats are likely going to be relatively more important for you to be admitted. Since on average, you have less work experience than older candidates and thus less professional experience to draw from (as I also did when I considered applying), schools will want to see evidence of your intelligence through high grades and stellar GMAT scores.

Additionally, just because you have less professional experience doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for leadership potential. In fact, it’s probably just the reverse. Schools still want to see evidence of your leadership and decision-making in extra-curricular activities and in internships. And because you’re younger, they may even want more specific and more recent examples.

Third, I’d also say that as a younger applicant, it’s possible that admissions may want you to have a higher percentage of quantitative coursework. That’s because you won’t have work experience to serve as a proxy, and because it also might serve as good evidence of how you would fair in the first year of an MBA program.

But after these things, I suspect that you’ll probably be assessed like every other candidate based on your b-school “story,” on your short and long-term goals, on your discussion of why you want/ need an MBA, and your answer of Why now?

That last question, “Why now?” often gets neglected by applicants, which I think is a mistake in applications, especially in competitive years where “now” is really important for some applicants. For you, the difference is that you’re story must answer the question, why now right after school, as opposed to why now, 4 or 5 years out of school?

In comparison to business school, many JD-MBA programs have always welcomed applications from candidates with less work experience. This is because these programs balance the respective profiles of the universities’ business school and law school, where each school really is quite different. While business schools usually prefer a couple of years of experience, law schools have traditionally taken students with little or no work experience. As such, admits at some JD-MBA programs have a pretty low average age, though the actual statistics depends on the school. The Northwestern JD-MBA for instance has a typical average of 4.5 to 5.0 years of experience, which is pretty closely aligned with general MBA population. The four-year program at U-Penn has been pretty similar.  However, I know of 4 or 5 schools off hand that encourage applicants straight from undergrad.

To me, all of these differences emphasize the importance of finding a good fit when applying. Although many applicants hear the word “fit” every time they discuss MBA applications, it is important to ensure you apply to and enroll at a school that is the right fit for your professional and personal aspirations. Once you find that school (or those schools), then my personal opinion is that you should give applying a shot. And to do that,  you need to work on getting your story together, and then on putting together a quality application. Both of those processes can be really rigorous, but when you’re ready to go back, it’s always worth it.

Good luck if you decide to do so this year. And good luck to all those considering JD-MBA programs and early career applications.

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Monday, August 3rd, 2009 Admissions, Business School, Careers 8 Comments

Kellogg MBA Class of 2012

Because I’m in the 3-year JD-MBA program at Northwestern, I will begin my studies at the law school this fall and won’t officially start at Kellogg until the fall of 2010. This means that I won’t graduate with all the b-school kids that I applied with in the class of 2011, which is definitely unfortunate, because I have quite a few friends starting at Kellogg and at other schools.

However despite not being able to graduate with my fellow admits, I’m still excited to meet this year’s MBA applicants. You guys will be admitted to the class of 2012, which is my class. So for those of you who go to Kellogg, we’ll be starting at the same time, and we might even be in the same section.

As such, I intend to write a lot about Kellogg this season, and hopefully I can share some quality insights about the MBA program. To that end, I’m also planning on using my blog to post some of my responses to applicant questions. So stay tuned, read, and please feel free to make a few comments on my blog along the way.

Hopefully you’ve already gotten started in the application process. Keep me posted on your progress.

Good luck!

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Thursday, July 23rd, 2009 Business School 2 Comments

Why Kellogg

Hey everyone, hope you’re doing well.  I recently got an email from someone interested in applying to the JD-MBA program. She sent a couple of questions, including “Why Northwestern (Kellogg?) That’s always a pretty tough question, but I’ll  take a stab at answering the question below.

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MY RESPONSE TO READER’S QUESTION

So when I tell people I’m headed to Northwestern’s JD-MBA program, I usually get three different responses: (i) Congratulations! (ii) Why Kellogg/Northwestern? and (iii) Why a JD and an MBA?

What I’ve learned about going through this process and answering these questions is that choosing a business school is no easy feat. The are a number of top programs out there that will help you accomplish your career goals. I had the good fortune of being part of Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) as an applicant. MLT focuses on the business school application process and specifically helped me determine my priorities for choosing a school. As part of the program, I spent a lot of time visiting campuses, interacting with current students, reflecting on my personal goals, writing strong essays, and going to admitted student weekends. I strongly suggest that any graduate school applicant go through the same due diligence.

I ultimately chose to attend Kellogg’s JD-MBA program. Accepting a place at Kellogg was not a hard decision given it’s top ranking and premier resources. However, turning down other top schools was a bit more difficult. Upon reflection, there are a couple of specific reasons that helped me realize that Kellogg was the best fit for me.

Teamwork. Having worked on a variety of project teams as a consultant, I’ve learned the distinct advantage of having a high-performing team. Kellogg pioneered the concept of teamwork in b-school. From being a student-driven culture, to rotating study groups, to a lopsided amount of team-based coursework, Kellogg and Northwestern law will best allow me to hone my teamwork skills.

Classmates: Students at Northwestern are slightly older and amongst the most collegial, fun loving students at any school. This is true at both Kellogg and Northwestern Law, and I look forward to a really fun three years. I also think this adds a more mature and experienced dynamic to the classroom. Will be pretty interesting learning from interesting and experienced classmates.

General Management. Kellogg also has a world-class general management curriculum, and tends to do a lot of things really well. With a background that’s pretty generalist in nature, including consulting, I do think that getting a general management background is a good idea, and for me it is the best way to go.

Marketing Orientation. Unlike many Kellogg students, I don’t specifically plan to go into marketing after graduation. But I do believe that marketing/ sales is one of the most important functions in business. As such, Kellogg’s strong marketing curriculum–from the world-renowned marketing curriculum to its annual marketing competition–will be a good fit for me.

Leadership Development. I believe that running a company is as much about good leadership as it is about analysis and processes. I’ve had the fortunate experience of having worked with one or two really good leaders in addition to a lot of really bad ones, and personally think that it’s important to show strong leadership in business. Kellogg offers things like a 360 leadership assessment, a culture based on feedback, a great MORS major (and leadership minor), and countless ways to lead/organize as a part of the student body.

Negotiation Coursework. I am really interested academically in negotiations. Law school is generally a great way to get this exposure, and Northwestern Law is one of the best with the topic. Northwestern Law is also known for its practical coursework and its clinics, including a negotiations clinic. Kellogg also has a great negotiations curriculum. They have some of the best professors in the field who have written some of the best books in the field. At Kellogg, you can even get a minor in negotiations.

Consulting. I have a background in consulting and am thinking about the management consulting field post-graduation. Kellogg is one of the best at sending students into the field. They even have the “Analytical Consulting” major specifically designed to enter the field.

JD-MBA Program. I will talk more about the specifics of the dual program going forward, but attaining both the JD and the MBA was probably the biggest factor in my school decision, as my long-term professional interests have ties to both law and business, e.g. startups, politics and social change. In my opinion, Northwestern far and away has the best and most integrated JD-MBA program and it certainly has the oldest JD-MBA “program”.

At Northwestern, I know I can gain the skills and experiences to achieve my professional goals. I look forward to starting at Northwestern this fall.

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Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 Business School No Comments

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Jeremy C Wilson is a JD-MBA alumni using his site to share information on education, the social enterprise revolution, entrepreneurship, and doing things differently. Feel free to send along questions or comments as you read.

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