Sorebrek's Musings and Ramblings

In search of the holy grail of an MBA (class of 2008 hopeful), this space will hopefully chronicle the search and my other quixotic pursuits.

Friday, September 24, 2004

The MBA Applicant's Lexicon

So you have been thinking about that MBA for a while and you have taken the next step, i.e. research your options. Excellent! Now what you really need is to talk the talk. Like any other sub-culture, the world of MBA applicants has its own jargon. Hopefully, this list will boot-strap some of the jargon-challenged newbie applicants out there. Readers are advised to treat the information provided in these pages as approximate and are encouraged to check with specific schools for the most up to date information. I do not make any claim to the accuracy or relevance of any of the information presented. That said, I will be updating this list on an ongoing basis with your help - corrections/additions/trivia/brick-bats/bouquets are always welcome.

  • Adcom – variant: adcomm - Admission Committee Member or Admission Officer. Adcoms design class profiles, scrutinize applications, make acceptance decisions, market their schools at MBA fairs and receptions, respond to applicant questions on online forums and on a one-on-one basis where necessary.
  • Alums – Shorthand for business-school alumni. Most alumni are eager to share their b-school experience with prospective applicants. They offer a largely unequivocal perspective of the school vis-a-vis the adcoms who may tend to offer a relatively biased or textbook opinion.
  • Application – The application holds together the rest of the documentation submitted by a b-school applicant. It is an objective view of the applicant’s candidacy. Most schools these days have online applications, sparing the applicants the agony of paper forms. Applications are submitted with an application fee, usually in the $200 range for US schools.
  • Class of 2xxx – Indicates the matriculating year. For instance, if a candidate was to turn in applications by Fall 2004, on acceptance she would start attending school in Fall 2005. Assuming that she is in a two-year program, she would matriculate in Fall 2007. She would therefore be a Class of 2007 applicant.
  • Consultants – The high stakes game that the MBA application process is, there has been an emerging trend of engaging admission consultants to assist in the process of applying to business school. Consulting services range from simple essay editing to the full-service treatment running from GMAT preparation to rejection analysis and feedback.
  • Consulting – A popular job choice for MBA graduates, Consulting comes in many flavors ranging from Management/Strategy Consulting to Technology Consulting.
  • Ding – The dreaded ‘D’ word. A candidate dinged by a school has in other words, been rejected by it. However, a ding is not the end of the world since candidates may re-apply to the same school in another term.
  • Essays – The Bermuda triangle for otherwise spectacular applications, essays need to be treated with kid gloves. While the GPAs and GMAT scores indicate the candidate's ability to take academic punishment, the essays determine who the candidate really is as a person and if she is a good fit for the school. Admission officers expect you to pour your heart and soul into the essays. In the words of an admissions officer, your essays should illustrate “where have you been, where are you and where are you headed”. Candidness and honesty are appreciated. Failed applicants tend to forget that while they have written a dozen or two essays, the typical admission officer has read a few thousand. Schools typically ask for 3 to 4 essays (Kellogg – 4), but others like IMD (17) may ask for more.
  • European MBA – As opposed to the American MBA, which is typically a two-year program, most European MBA programs run for a year. Besides international applicants, several US applicants choose European MBA programs due to the better international perspective that they offer.
  • Executive MBA – For those professionals who did not need an MBA to ascend the corporate ladder, the Executive MBA offers a late-blooming opportunity to a formal business education, albeit one of a shorter duration and relatively higher expense. Most Executive MBA programs require employers to sponsor candidates.
  • GMAT – Graduate Management Admission Test – Conducted by the GMAC, Graduate Management Admissions Council, the GMAT is considered to be one of the toughest standardized tests out there. It consists of verbal and quantitative sections and is scored out of 800. Newbies run the risk of over-emphasizing the GMAT, thereby neglecting other parts of their application. They are better advised to seek a score in line with the average scores at the school(s) to which they are applying. Candidates with not-so-spectacular GPAs are better off with a better-than-average GMAT score.
  • GPA – Grade Point Average. International applicants may not be familiar with this form of grading since it is most prevalent in the American college education system. It is a student’s past academic performance usually graded on a scale of 4. It is another one of the objective criteria besides the GMAT that adcoms use.
  • H/S/W – The holy triumvirate, i.e. Harvard, Stanford and Wharton. While rankings are very subjective and often fickle, these schools enjoy tremendous brand recognition. H/S/W/K/C is another variation where the ‘K’ stands for Kellogg and ‘C’ for Chicago. A fellow applicant from India once mentioned: "Harvard and Kellogg pass the mom test".
  • I-Banking – A popular job choice among MBA graduates, I-Banking stands for Investment Banking. I-Banking has several dimensions to it including corporate banking, trading, analysis etc. I-Banking careers are typically the highest paying careers for MBA graduates at least in the short run.
  • Interview – Schools interview prospective candidates to assess in person, various aspects of the applicant’s candidature. While some schools such as Kellogg interviews every applicant, others interview by invitation only (e.g. Harvard). Still others strive to interview all accepted candidates (Sloan). Some schools arrange for interviews by alumni if you are unable to make the trip to the campus and treat these as equivalent to interviews on campus. There are exceptions to this rule too. For instance, MIT Sloan sends its admission officers from city to city to conduct interviews. A few schools that are not very competitive in terms of rankings do not interview at all. A typical interview could last anywhere from 10 minutes (UC Berkeley Haas part-time) to a whole day (IMD).
  • MBA fairs/tours – International, multi-city events to which b-schools send their adcoms and alumni to market their programs and field questions from prospective applicants. Newbies, more than applicants well into their application process, tend to benefit from these rather crowded events. Recently, some top schools have been giving these events a wide berth.
  • Part-time MBA – variants: Weekend MBA, Evening MBA – Professionals interested in furthering their careers with help from an MBA education, but at the same time loathe to sacrificing a full-time job, take up part-time programs at local business schools. The mathematically gifted amongst us would by now have guessed that part-time (MBA) plus full-time (day job) does not quite add up. Often they don’t, resulting in high dropout rates and ulcers.
  • Rankings – Business publications such as BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times publish rankings of business schools in the US and the rest of the world. Rankings are an aggregate of several criteria applied by the ranking entities. Newbie candidates tend to be enamored by rankings while ignoring the fit, i.e. the schools they would best fit into and thereby derive maximum benefit from.
  • Re-application – A rejected-candidate may apply for a subsequent round of applications. However, this attempt needs to be bolstered by changes to the applicant’s profile to increase the chances of acceptance.
  • Reception – Business schools organize international, multi-city information sessions, which they expect more serious candidates to attend. Receptions are not advertised as much as MBA fairs/tours. They offer an excellent opportunity to talk to alumni and to network with fellow applicants in a relaxed environment.
  • Recommendations – variant: recos – While the application and essays tell the story as recounted by the applicant, recommendations offer the adcoms a third perspective on the applicant. The recent trend is for schools to seek a recommendation from the applicant’s immediate supervisor. Academic recommendations are becoming passé, increasingly so in proportion to the number of years out of a formal education system.
  • Resume – variant CV (Curriculum Vitae) – No surprises here. Most schools expect a current resume to be submitted with the application. They also prefer little to no overlap between material in the resume and the essays while maintaining a consistent theme across the whole application.
  • Rounds – Schools accept applications in several rounds. US schools typically accept the first round of applications in fall, second round in winter and the third round in early spring. Most schools claim that the chances of acceptance in round 1 and 2 are the same. There are exceptions to this rule; for instance a Sloan adcom recently spelt out Sloan's preference for round 1 applicants. Waiting until round 3 is almost always a bad idea since most of the seats are already taken.
  • School Visit – Most schools encourage prospective applicants to visit the campus. A typical campus visit consists of an information session, tour of the campus, lunch with students (complementary or dutch (Stanford)) and a class visit. Serious applicants use a school visit to gauge their fit in a particular school environment.
  • Student Profile – Most schools publish a profile of the most recently admitted class. This consists of statistics such as the average GMAT score, age, salary foregone etc. However these are statistical averages and should not by themseleves discourage applicants from applying to a certain school.
  • VC Firms – Venture capitalist firms; firms that fork out the money for fledgling companies with economically viable business plans (I don’t know any more). Recent trends among MBA graduates suggest an increased interest in VC firms.
  • Waitlist – Schools place borderline candidates on a waitlist. As an example, MIT Sloan typically receives around 3,000 applications for 319 seats and waitlists 208 applicants. It eventually accepts about 15% of those on the waitlist. Schools with low yield percentages place a greater number of candidates on the waitlist.
  • Yield Management – There is anecdotal evidence that schools take specific actions to increase their yield percentages. This is especially true for schools that are neither in the top 10 ranks nor in the second tier. So, if a candidate is top 5 material, there is a fair chance that the school may not accept her since she will most likely opt for the higher-ranked school and thereby hurt the lower-ranked school's yield percentage.
  • Yield Percentage – Percentage of accepted applicants who eventually enroll. High-ranking schools such as Harvard (85%), Stanford (83%) and Wharton (75%) have high yield rates. Yield percentages fall pretty steeply towards the latter half of the top 10 programs (e.g. Chicago at 58%). Yield percentage is not a true indicator of what a school has to offer; it is more of an indicator of applicants' desirability for a particular school.


  • At 6:07 AM, Blogger anna said…

    I love your information on technology consulting I bookmarked your blog and will be back soon. If you want, check out my blog on technology consulting exposed - please come by

  • At 8:04 AM, Blogger HFUNDATION said…

    For the first time today I took some time to look for infomation and related pages to this very topic. I also have a site related to this and I sometimes search in the blogs, looking for new article ideas. Today it was a joy to come across a real interesting post that you made. Thanks for this great blog canadian retirement plan

  • At 12:14 AM, Anonymous get out of debt said…

    I've only found a few blogs on The MBA Applicant's Lexicon and debt relief, sorebrek. Since that is my area of expertise you may want to check out debt relief!

  • At 6:27 AM, Anonymous Investor Relations said…

    Running a business or any complex organization requires the adequate utilization of marketing and different risk strategies family business.

    Make sure you find the best software that is available for different risk strategies family business. We suggest you try as a resource for this.

  • At 5:30 AM, Anonymous Financial Analysis said…

    Looking for more information on financial economics consulting group inc ..If so here is a fantastic resource for everything related to financial economics consulting group inc with information, products, articles and more..Check it out

  • At 11:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great site, I am bookmarking it!Keep it up!
    With the best regards!
    but cheap clothes fashionable plus size woman
    effective math tutor
    credit cards

  • At 11:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great resource. keep it up!!Thanks a lot for interesting discussion, I found a lot of useful information!With the best regards!

  • At 7:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks a lot for this place, where people can leave their ideas and opinions, it's great!With the best regards!


Post a Comment

<< Home