Monthly Archives: November 2010

MBA Application Tips: IE Business School | Ivy Eyes Editing

Hi everyone,

IE Business School recently published some solid tips on how to present top-notch letters of recommendation; these tips are great to keep in mind as you polish your MBA application. Of course, we’ve been tweeting for weeks about recommendation letters and their signficance on admissions results. Here are some of the tips that have emerged, and which we urge all our clients and readers to keep in mind:

1) Encourage your recommenders to present interesting, specific takes on traditional strengths. “Bob is an excellent leader and will make a great MBA student.” Fine, but what kind of leader is Bob? How has his unique leadership style brought about great results?

2) Provide your recommenders with data so the recommendations can be specific and substantive. “Bob is an excellent leader and will make a great MBA student.” Fine, but how were his leadership skills put into practice?

3) Make sure your recommenders keep their recommendations lean. “Bob is an excellent leader and will make a great MBA student.” But not too lean! Every recommendation question should have a fully realized answer, which is supported with anecdotal experience. Quality over quantity–no bonus points are awarded for Homeric recommendations. Think crisp, targeted, substantive elevator pitch instead.

Please be on the lookout for more thoughts on this topic in the coming weeks. Adequately prepare your recommenders, and remember to send thank-you notes! You just may need their support again one day.

Read below for the blogpost from IE Business School, and some great basic tips from an internationally recognized MBA admissions source.

Ready to start work on your MBA essays? Begin here:

And if your recommender would like a second pair of eyes to edit their letter, send them here:



Ivy Eyes Editing


At IE Business School, we take a holistic approach to evaluating each candidate. We look at every aspect of your application; as such no single element is of unique importance within evaluation, but rather a compilation of all the elements submitted.

Between those submitted elements are the letters of recommendation, fundamental in “adding score points in the path to admission” as Julian Trigo, Director of Admissions at IE Business School explained to America Economía: Tips para gestionar buenas cartas de recomendación para un MBA, November, 2010. He also addressed that ”finding the right recommenders is crucial” to get to know the strenghts and weaknesses of a candidate applying to the International MBA program.

Here are some tips when choosing your recommenders:

1. Select your recommender: who is the right person to write about you? Find someone that knows you, from a professional or academic perspective, who is able to describe your strenghts and weaknesses.

2. Prepare your recommender: ask for the letter with time in advance. Give enough time for your recommender to write a letter with high quality content.

3. The final letter: make sure your recommender writes about your achievements, specific projects, communication skills, etcetera, following the format of IE Business School’s online application format  (

Something to avoid:

- Do not write the letter yourself, sometimes due to the daily workload, your recommender might ask you to write the letter and sign it. The letter of recommendation is the best way to get to know your strenghts and weaknesses, as well as your closeness and interaction with your recommender. Therefore, the Admissions Committee will verify the information as needed and reserves the right to deny candidates admission at this point in the application process if a discrepancy in the information provided through verification is noted.

BusinessWeek: Top Global Business Schools | Ivy Eyes Editing

Hi all,

A great article in BusinessWeek on leading global MBA programs.

Please find the full article here and some of the highlights from the article below.

Working on your application to global business schools? Let us help you. Start here:

All best,



“Recent graduates from Bloomberg Businessweek‘s 10 top-ranked international business schools continue to be hit hard by the ripple effects of the global financial downturn, with an increasing number of students like Garcia-Morera resorting to their plan B or returning home after fruitless job searches in Europe. This year’s still shaky market for MBA talent in Europe and Canada shook up this year’s international ranking, with France’s INSEAD (INSEAD Full-Time MBA Profile) taking the top spot.INSEAD climbed two spots since the previous ranking in 2008, pushing Canada’s Queen’s School of Business (Queen’s Full-Time MBA Profile) out of the top slot.”

“With jobs scarce, recruiting relationships shifting, and student anger at a boiling point, two newcomers to the top 10—No. 9 York University’s Schulich School of Business (Schulich Full-Time MBA Profile) and No.10 University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School (Judge Full-Time MBA Profile)—were able to elbow their way onto the list. On average, one in seven recent graduates, or 14 percent, were still without a job three months after graduation, according to placement data from the seven top-10 schools that reported it.”

“Despite the bleak economic outlook, business schools in Spain have still managed to hold their own in this year’s ranking, with IE Business School and ESADE taking the third and fourth spots, respectively. Dee Clarke, director of career services at ESADE Business School (ESADE Full-Time MBA Profile), said the number of graduates who work in Spain after graduation has declined by about 50 percent in the last few years. About one in four ESADE graduates, or 24 percent, were still looking for a job within three months of graduation, according to school data reported to Bloomberg Businessweek. “It used to be that people wanted to stay in Spain, but they recognize that the job market is not as attractive here,” said Clarke.”

“At No. 3 IE Business School, , recruiting patterns have shifted as well, with more recruiters from Asia, Brazil, and India visiting campus. About one in 10 graduates, or 11 percent, were still looking for a job within three months of graduation, according to school data reported to Bloomberg Businessweek.”

“At No. 1 INSEAD, 86 percent of graduates from the school’s France and Singapore campuses had found jobs within three months of graduation, up one percentage point from 2009, according to the school. This fall, the school saw a 30 percent increase in on-campus recruitment and had 130 companies visit campus this fall, said Sandra Schwarzer, INSEAD’s director of career services. The school has an edge in the job market, she added, because graduates are required to speak three languages, giving them a wide array of options in different countries during their job search.”

“The new immigration requirements have had an impact on placement numbers at schools like the U.K.’s Judge Business School, No. 10 in our international ranking. About a fourth of Judge’s most recent graduating class was still looking for a job within three months of graduation, according to school data. In 2009, 52 percent of graduates ended up working in the U.K., a figure that dropped to about 44 percent in 2010, said Karen Siegfried, Judge’s executive director of career services.”

“Job placement numbers are up at the No. 9-ranked Schulich School of Business in Ontario, where 86 percent of students found a job within three months of graduation, up six percentage points from 2009, said Joseph Palumbo, executive director of Schulich’s Career Development Center. Top students have begun getting multiple offers again, salaries are up $7,000 over last year, and sectors like financial services, health care, and consulting have started to bounce back, he said.”

The 2010 GMATCH Virtual MBA Fair | Ivy Eyes Editing

Hi everyone,

Please find details below on the GMATCH Virtual MBA Fair!

Ready to begin work on your MBA applications? Start here:

And get school-specific info on MBA programs around the world in our MBA Resource Center:



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Thousands of prospective MBA students from more than 125 countries on six continents are gearing up for an international MBA fair featuring 56 of the world’s best business schools — and no one will even have to leave home to participate. The GMATCH Virtual MBA Fair, created by the organization that owns the GMAT exam, will use a graphically rich platform to allow students to interact with school representatives and learn about management education via the Internet.

GMATCH is scheduled for November 22 and 23 and will include business schools from Asia, Europe and North America. Exhibiting schools include the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Nanyang Business School, Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management, CEIBS, London Business School, INSEAD, the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, and the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

A full list of participating schools is at .

There is no charge for students to participate in GMATCH. Visit for more information and to register. Beyond providing an opportunity for students and business schools to interact, GMATCH will feature panel sessions where current students, alumni and admissions professionals will share targeted advice about getting into business school and making the most of the experience.

Topics will include preparing an attention-grabbing business school application, applying an MBA in today’s uncertain economy, and understanding the reasons people already in business school chose to pursue an MBA. GMATCH will also include presentations about preparing for the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and the growing presence of women in management education. GMATCH is organized by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), an international association of business schools dedicated to helping people maximize career opportunities through management education. The virtual fair follows a similar event GMAC sponsored in April that attracted participants from 68 countries.

GMATCH has drawn broad support from admissions officials excited about the prospect of simultaneously reaching a global pool of promising applicants. “As an Asian school, considerable costs are always involved in flying staff over to Western regions and promoting our program there. GMATCH is a more convenient and money saving alternative to conventional MBA fairs,” said Sherring Ng, head of Marketing and Admissions for MBA Programs at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology business school. “It allows live communication between schools and students without geographical boundaries or travel costs. This in turn helps us to better market our program globally and further increase the diversity of our international student body.”

To access additional quotes from exhibiting schools, please visit About GMAC and the GMAT exam The Graduate Management Admission Council ( is a nonprofit education organization of leading graduate business schools worldwide dedicated to creating access to and disseminating information about graduate management education. GMAC is based in Reston, Virginia, and has regional offices in London and Hong Kong. The GMAT® exam was created in 1954 and is used by nearly 5,000 graduate management programs at approximately 1,900 business schools around the world to assess applicants. The GMAT — the only standardized test designed expressly for graduate business and management programs worldwide — is continuously available at more than 550 test centers in 111 countries. More information about the GMAT exam is available at

2010 MBA Rankings from Businessweek | Ivy Eyes Editing

Businessweek just released its biannual full-time MBA rankings. As seen below, there were some minor shifts in this year’s U.S. top 30 compared to those of 2008, and some more significant changes in the international rankings.

Ready to begin work on your MBA applications? Start here:

And get school-specific info on MBA programs around the world in our MBA Resource Center:

Top 30 U.S. Business Schools of 2010 (2008 rankings are parenthetical.)

  1. Chicago Booth (1)
  2. Harvard Business School (2)
  3. Wharton (4)
  4. Northwestern Kellogg (3)
  5. Stanford GSB (6)
  6. Duke Fuqua (8)
  7. Michigan Ross (5)
  8. UC Berkeley Haas (10)
  9. Columbia (7)
  10. MIT Sloan (9)
  11. UVA Darden (16)
  12. Southern Methodist Cox (18)
  13. Cornell Johnson (11)
  14. Dartmouth Tuck (12)
  15. CMU Tepper (19)
  16. UNC Kenan-Flagler (17)
  17. UCLA Anderson (14)
  18. NYU Stern (13)
  19. Indiana Kelley (15)
  20. Michigan State Broad (2T)
  21. Yale SOM (24)
  22. Emory Goizueta (23)
  23. Georgia Tech (29)
  24. Notre Dame Mendoza (20)
  25. Texas-Austin McCombs (21)
  26. USC Marshall (25)
  27. Brigham Young Marriott (22)
  28. Minnesota Carlson (2T)
  29. Rice Jones (NR)
  30. Texas A&M Mays (NR)

Top International Business Schools

  1. INSEAD (3)
  2. Queen’s (1)
  3. IE Business School (2)
  4. ESADE (6)
  5. London Business School (5)
  6. Western Ontario Ivey (4)
  7. IMD (7)
  8. Toronto Rotman (8)
  9. York Schulich (2T)
  10. Cambridge Judge (2T)
  11. McGill Desautels (2T)
  12. IESE (9)
  13. Cranfield (NR)
  14. HEC Paris (2T)
  15. HEC Montreal (HR)
  16. Oxford Said (10)
  17. Manchester (2T)
  18. SDA Bocconi (NR)

International MBA Applicants | Ivy Eyes Editing

Hi everyone,

Below are the highlights of a transcript from @MBAPodcaster, discussing special considerations for international applicants applying to US Business schools. Read below or check out the original post and podcast here:

A lot of great content here for international MBA applicants to consider. Thanks to MBAPodcaster for putting the post together!!!

Ready to begin work on your MBA applications? Start here:

And get school-specific info on MBA programs around the world in our MBA Resource Center:

Ivy Eyes Editing

“Welcome to MBA Podcaster—the only source for cutting-edge information and advice on the MBA application process. I’m Janet Nakano. With the growing global market, business schools are anxiously reaching out to overseas candidates; filling the increased need for people with an international education. Applicants around the world are also hearing the call. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council, last year nearly 40% of those who took the GMAT were from outside the US, while 85% sent their scores to US business schools.”

“Business schools in the US and all across the globe actively recruit overseas candidates. Schools frequently send representatives to MBA events in different countries. Monica Gray is Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. “We are there with our peers from other schools, and it provides the greatest benefit to the prospective student. They can meet with representatives from business schools all around the world as well as alumni and, in some cases, current students depending on what time of year it is. And it gives them an opportunity to collect a great deal of information from the programs, as well as speak to the representatives and get a sense of what their expectations of candidates are and also speak to individuals who may have gone through those particular programs and get a sense of what those individuals’ experiences are. In general, it’s just a great opportunity for candidates to gather as much information in one setting as possible.”

“The MBA Tour is one organization that puts together international recruiting events—quite possibly in your country. Peter von Loesecke is the MBA Tour’s CEO and Managing Director. “The MBA Tour is one of the oldest organizations for connecting students with admissions representatives from North America and European Business schools. Many times, these schools that travel with us will follow up their visit with another visit two or three months later where they will interview specific students that they identify as top candidates. So our events are an opportunity for students to get on the high priority list for admissions.””

“Kim Killingsworth is Associate Director of International Admissions at Cornell University’s The Johnson School of Business. She says at Johnson, International students make up nearly a third of an incoming class and many MBA programs admit just as many. Killingsworth says foreign students play an important role. “They bring diversity—and not only diversity of culture, but also of professional experience—and they typically bring a non-US work experience perspective to the classroom that many domestic students who have never worked outside the US have never been exposed to.””

“Christopher Lozano is MBA Director of Student Recruitment and Admissions at the University of the Pacific’s Eberhardt School of Business…Lozano says one of the advantages of a small program is that he can spend time advising international students as well as work through some of their challenges. For example, he finds that the American style of teaching can be difficult to adjust to. “I think they need to make sure they have an understanding of the US educational system and the style of education. They need to know that they will be participating in projects in class and expressing their ideas even if they don’t agree with the professor.”

“Lozano says that for non-native English speakers, communicating in English can be another challenge. With heavy reading material and active class discussions, he says building a solid foundation of English is essential. “My observation is that some of the best international students have completed English-based degree programs. I have one that I can think of from Japan who did his undergraduate at a university in the South, and he was just so well prepared. And his English wasn’t as strong when he first came here, but by the time he came to us he did very well…In our case, we only require a 550 TOEFL. So, some of the students do run into those issues, and what we’ve done for them is allowed them to take some traditional ESL courses and slowed their pace down a little bit to make sure they were comfortable and were building up their English skills.””

European MBA Programs | Ivy Eyes Editing

Hi everyone,

For those of you considering applying to European MBA programs, this is a great article from BusinessWeek that may help inform your research.

Ready to begin work on your MBA applications? Start here:

And get school-specific info on MBA programs around the world in our MBA Resource Center:


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The biggest schools have already established global brands, but smaller programs are finding novel ways to stand out from the crowd

By Matt Symonds
European B-Schools 2010

One of the consequences of the global economic downturn has been a growing conservatism among prospective MBA candidates. Concerned about getting the best return on the substantial investment of time, effort, and money a program entails, many have taken what they see as the safe option and opted for one of the big-name brands in business education.

In Europe, this has allowed INSEAD to expand its class to a staggering 980 full time MBA students. IE in Madrid continues to attract candidates motivated by the school’s reputation with recruiters. And HEC Paris is reporting that in addition to rising applicant numbers, the quality and diversity of candidates are also now markedly better, measured by higher than ever GMAT scores and a greater proportion of women.

How are institutions outside this Continental elite attracting the best and brightest in 2010? Perhaps not surprisingly, the schools still reporting healthy applicant numbers tend to be those that have found ways of differentiating themselves from the pack. In Germany, a country with a relatively short history of conventional business education, Berlin’s ESMT attributes the 50% growth in its latest MBA class down to the continuing close involvement of its founders. The school was launched in 2002 by a consortium of Germany’s top companies, including BMW (BAMXY), Deutsche Bank (DB), Lufthansa (DLAKY), and Siemens (SI), and they remain highly engaged on a day-to-day basis, providing visiting lecturers, internships, financial support to students, and employment opportunities. “Around half our MBAs end up joining one of the founding companies on graduation,” says Zoltan Antal-Mokos, who is associate dean. “We think that’s strong evidence that a business school actually founded by business is a successful model for management education.”

Entrepreneurs Inside Big Companies

EM Lyon in the southeast of France has made itself stand out through a longstanding focus on entrepreneurship. At a time when many of the traditional employment routes for MBAs are looking decidedly rocky, this skill set is proving acutely important. The school teaches students not only how to set up their own businesses but also the techniques of “intrapreneurship,” or the application of entrepreneurship within established businesses. As the school’s dean, Patrice Houdayer, puts it: “Entrepreneurial leadership is arguably even more important in big businesses than in small companies. In uncertain times, our MBAs can help large organizations become as flexible as possible, to reflect rapidly changing markets.”

Belgium’s Vlerick Leuven Gent has emerged from relative obscurity in recent years to feature prominently in MBA rankings, and in 2009 it doubled the size of its MBA class. The school attributes its success to a strong record of helping graduates find jobs and to its innovative funding scheme. “We’ve never had the focus on banking and consultancy that other schools relied on, but we deliberately reached out to recruiters in a very wide range of sectors,” says the international business director, Peter Rafferty. “It has meant we’ve been much less affected by the downturn. We also spotted back in 2008 that student funding would come under pressure because of the credit crunch, so we put together a scheme that’s based on an individual’s future potential rather than just their credit history. With so many other sources of funding drying up, it has proven very popular.”

In the U.K., one of the biggest names in distance-learning MBAs, Warwick Business School, has kept up applications through a series of innovations to make the learning process more engaging. Introduced in 2009, wbsLive is a sophisticated virtual classroom that goes beyond the traditional online lecture model to let students interact with each other either singly or in study groups, wherever they are in the world. The system is now also being used as part of the school’s MBA mentoring scheme, which allows current students to tap into the knowledge, experience, and contacts of alumni.

“Because of the diverse range of people we attract, the scheme has to be able to work on a truly international basis,” says Tracy Lynch, a member of Warwick’s alumni relations department. “Our students and alumni are spread across the globe, and the wbsLive facility allows them to interact almost as well as if they were sitting in the same room.”

How To Write Your MBA Resume | Ivy Eyes Editing

What should my MBA application resume look like? With the launch of the 2010-2011 MBA admissions season, this is a critical question applicants around the world will be asking themselves over the next 6-8 months. The good news is the answer is simple: your resume should be a forward-thinking advertisement that markets your strengths. The execution of that simple design, however, comes with a number of important caveats:

Structure & Format

1. Subheadings should be as follows: work experience, education, and additional.  Objective is an outmoded practice still en vogue with some resume-writing services; however, it is not the standard of top MBA programs or elite corporate recruiting.

2. Applicants with limited or no work experience should find other ways to express leadership impact through a new subheading, such as extracurricular or nonprofit leadership.

3. Font: Size 10, Times New Roman. Margins should be close to 0.7-1 inch.

4. Length: for most applicants, even those with 5-8 yrs of professional experience, a 1 page resume is sufficient and preferred.


1. Each role should have no more than 4 bullets, and most well-developed bullets should occupy two lines.

2. Lead with strong, active verbs. ‘Was responsible for’ might be replaced with ‘spearheaded,’ ‘facilitated,’ or ‘managed.’ Keep verbs in present tense for current roles and ongoing responsibilities, past tense for past roles and projects.

3. Each bullet should reflect situation, action and result. What was the situation? What action did you perform to solve it? What was the outcome?

4. Quantify and qualify your impact. Include % and $ signs where possible, which are also great visual cues for your reader.

5. Key questions to ask yourself: do your bullets present the full dimension of your job function and business skills? Do they seem overblown or convincing?


1. If you have only one professional role to draw from, consider bucketing project experience to show leadership development and multi-dimensional business expertise.

2. What type of career goals have you detailed in your essays? Your resume can reinforce this brand and your full application package, and show your readiness for the next step or even career transition.

3. Capture leadership roles, academic accomplishments, and extracurricular activities under your college education. This will show the type of student you’ll be.

4. Additional: this is a great place to include more humanizing details and strengths. Most applicants will include languages, advanced computer skills, volunteer work, and hobbies.

Of course, many applicants will also deliberate on the differences between a resume and a CV, and which to submit for their MBA application.  At one time, CV’s were more prevalent in European countries (they are still the standard in academia as well), but in a more global, fast-paced business culture, that convention is beginning to shift.  A recruiter or admissions committee member may spend 30-45 seconds, at most, evaluating your resume.   Through crisp language, straightforward design, and some strategic thinking around capturing your strengths, your resume can catch their eye, strengthen your MBA candidacy, and get your foot in the door.

Ready to begin work on your MBA applications and MBA resume? Start here:

And get school-specific info on MBA programs in our MBA Resource Center:


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Authenticity in MBA Admissions Essays | Ivy Eyes Editing

MBA applicants are frequently beleaguered by internet-induced anxieties regarding their demonstrated student leadership, professional accomplishments and net impact. In their MBA admissions essays, they spend copious amounts of time on positioning, and finding ways to distill (or embellish) management responsibilities from a number-crunching  senior analyst position. The resultant problem here is: most applicants are hard at work engineering the same kind of boring “super-candidacy.” What will make your candidacy different?

We find that the biggest issue in our clients’ writing rarely lies in their academic or professional pedigrees, but in the authenticity of their prose, and the specificity of their point of view. MBA programs are becoming increasingly concerned not just with finding business leaders, but finding energized community members, values-driven students and passionate people. Net impact and business acumen are no longer enough. Consider the following prompts from Harvard Business School, Duke Fuqua and Stanford GSB, respectively:

What are your three most substantial accomplishments and why do you view them as such?

Describe your vision for your career and your inspiration for pursuing this career path.

What matters most to you, and why?

In all of these prompts, most applicants will make the mistake of focusing on what is most concrete (accomplishment, vision, what matters), simply because what is abstract is infinitely harder to put into words. However, the more abstract dimensions of each prompt—the why—are where you can really bring dimension and humanity to your candidacy.

Applicants that adequately answer ‘why’ are able to tether their accomplishments and viewpoints to values, a keen self-awareness, and the seasoned EQ required of today’s business leaders. In a recent study, when given a list of a dozen words to describe their CEO, only one in five employees picked “caring” or “warm”; ironically, CEO’s picked these words twice as often to describe themselves. The business and academic communities are becoming increasingly sensitive to this alarming disparity. Your ability to answer the “why “ gives a powerful window into your soft skills, and your potential to develop them to lead tomorrow’s top organizations.

Applicants within a competitive group will particularly benefit from this ‘authenticity first’ approach—Indian males with an IT background, Caucasian males with a finance background. Your story and your net impact may not be that different from an applicant in your niche, but your point of view can make you exceptional.

Your MBA candidacy does  not boil down to concrete career achievement, GMAT scores, and academic pedigree. MBA programs across the U.S. and the world are looking to build student bodies that are diverse in the broadest sense of the word. So, before you have your candidacy assessed and regression analyses run on your chances of admission, take a more humanistic, critical self-appraisal of your application. Take greater risks in articulating your values and exploring the forces that really drive you. Strive to be more authentic.

Ready to begin work on your MBA applications? Start here:

And get school-specific info on MBA programs in our MBA Resource Center:



Ivy Eyes Editing

The Top 5 Admissions Essay Mistakes | Ivy Eyes Editing

Hi everyone,

We understand the intensity of admissions season and wanted to create a series of quick tips to help steer you in the right direction. From our point of view, here are the 5 most common admissions essay mistakes:

1.Tonal and Narrative Balance – We have mentioned this before, but the key is finding a balance between humanity and authenticity and targeting the prompt and sophistication in your essays. This balance is shifted depending on the level of the applicant (MBA essays will feel more ‘buttoned up’ than a college level essay). However, every admissions essay should target a specific prompt and also convey a deeper sense of who you are. Use language and content to find this balance!

2. Admit me! Admit me! Overselling Yourself – Applicants frequently push too hard to demonstrate fit with an institution. Their writing loses all sense of authenticity and focus. They resort to stilted language like, ‘If admitted to XXX, I will bring my enthusiasm…’ In doing so, they impede the natural momentum of their writing.

3. Underdeveloped Ideas and Cliches – “I want to be a doctor because I thrive on patient interaction.” “A legal career will help me to drive change in underserved communities.” “You can never judge a book by its cover.” “I want to make the world a better place.” Vague, underdeveloped ideas and cliches seem to go hand in hand.

Stay specific and concrete–flesh out the path even if you are uncertain. Employ language that is your own. Whether you are writing a college essay, MBA admissions essay, med school or law school personal statement, clearly define your story and your purpose.

4. Missing the Prompt – Make sure that you reread the prompt. Did you catch every facet of the prompt–such as the ‘why’ component? Consider the admissions committee point of view. Do you think you gave them the level of reflection they are looking for?

4b. The Man in the Mirror - All admissions essays should show a degree of perspective and self-reflection. Ultimately, this implies maturity, and a willingness to enter a community that can shape you (and vice versa).

5. Concision – It is ironic that we needed to add a 4b to squeeze in this last tip. It just goes to show, it is difficult to think and write concisely. In admissions essays, however, it is to your advantage to ‘think crisp.’ This will help you to sharpen your content, and cut out ‘fluff’ which does not enrich your candidacy.

We hope these tips help you as you work on your admissions materials at levels–MBA Essays, Commmon Application essays, medical personal statements and more. As always, message us with specific questions or to receive a free assessment of your first writing submission, including admissions essays, personal statements, resumes, cover letters, dissertations and more.

Ready to begin work on your admissions essays? Start here:


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Unconventional Academic Backgrounds | Ivy Eyes Editing

Hello everyone!

Whether you are an economics major applying to medical school, a comparative literature major applying for your MBA, or a biochemistry major applying to law school, you can use your unconventional academic background as an advantage.

We recently worked with a medical school applicant that majored in studio art at an ivy league institution (one which we know very well). Fortunately, she fared well in all of her pre-med courses, but, what to do about her extremely atypical academic background? We’d like to use this applicant as an example, though the basic concepts below may be applied to positioning academic backgrounds for any type of graduate program:

-Show transferable, relevant skills. Though the connections between studio art and medicine may be rather discreet, nevertheless, they do exist. Developing one’s voice. Trusting instincts. An attention to detail and form. An openness to interpretation. A kinesthetic approach. Make a list–you may be surprised how many parallels emerge.

-Don’t apologize. We never advise candidates to apologize for any of their academic or personal choices. Even with the worst decisions, what is most important is highlighting resilience and ‘what you’ve learned.’ The same applies for an unconventional major. Why were/are you passionate about art? How did it speak to other dimensions of your personality, creativity and intellect? How might a career in medicine represent the ultimate synergy between these two seemingly disparate interests–science and artistic expression?

-Why medicine? Particularly for those with unusual college majors, the ‘why medicine’ question is very important. We frequently read personal statements that repeat the valid but trite ‘desire to help people.’ Others prefer the more personal angle, referencing the illness of a relative. What we encourage all medical applicants to do–whether they are applying to medical school, residency or fellowship programs–is consider more deeply why this track is important to you. What appeals to you about the lifestyle, the professional and intellectual challenges, the patient interaction, the pace, the collaboration, the dynamism of the career? There are many layers to be explored within each of these motivations, and your job is to really make your desire to become a medical professional personal and authentic.

-Balance. While positioning is important, remember ‘focus’ within your personal statement. For medical applicants, the focus should be around medicine and the forces that drive you. For law school applicants, there is typically more variation in storytelling. Other grad school applicants (engineering, accounting, etc) will have clear criteria to be covered (experience, goals, reasons for wanting to attend Northwestern or Wharton). However, regardless, if you are positioning your unique background, remember that is only PART of your story, and don’t let your statement lose its sense of focus and balance.

For those of you applying to medical programs (med school and fellowship, residency, nursing and dentistry programs, etc.) over the coming months, we encourage you to keep many of these tenets in mind when writing your personal statements. And of course, feel free to contact us for support with your personal statement and/or resume! Start here:

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