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Ask Precision Essay

This topic has 32 expert replies and 0 member replies
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Post Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:11 pm
What is up folks. Juuust checking in with an exciting new announcement.

We are going to be doing two SEMINARS in China later this month!

Check out the link here: http://cn.precisionessay.com/services/seminars/

And come see us in person. We promise you, you wont regret it.

About the Seminars
Hosted by our founder and HBS MBA, Jon Frank, the seminars will address the ins-and-outs of the business school application process, dispell certain myths, provide insight into the MBA experience, offer sage advice on application strategy, and of course, answer all of your questions in person. If you are thinking about applying to business schools, this will be a rare chance to meet with one of the leading experts in the field.
Who Should Attend
Anyone applying to MBA programs either for 2012, or beyond.
Locations & Dates

Host: Jon Frank, Founder/CEO Precision Essay
Date: Saturday, June 25
Venue: Hyatt on the Bund
Room: Glass House
Time: 1:00 PM
Address (Chinese): 上海-滩茂悦大'-琉'厅中国上海黄浦路199号
Address (English): Hyatt on the Bund Glass House
199 Huang Pu Road, Shanghai, People's Republic of China

Host: Jon Frank, Founder/CEO Precision Essay
Date: Sunday, June 26
Venue: The Regent Beijing
Room: Diamond Room
Time: 2:00 PM
Address (Chinese): -京丽晶'- '石厅 -京市东城区'宝-99号
Address (English): 99 Jinbao Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing 100005

Need free GMAT or MBA advice from an expert? Register for Beat The GMAT now and post your question in these forums!
Post Thu Jun 09, 2011 10:19 pm
Whats up gang. Another great question just rolled in from Shanghai. Thought I'd share...

Hi Jon, is it easy to transfer from one to another MBA program? I applied for MBA this year, got in to a program which is not so good, and I want to attend for now but transfer to a better b-school once i get there. What is the feasibility of this idea? Thanks.

[Hello there-I am glad that you asked this. For whatever reason, many folks have reached out to us on this very issue. So let’s get into it.

I want to be very clear here: your proposed transfer is VERY difficult to accomplish. It is also a bad idea. Clear enough for ya? In fact, let me list the following 3 key reasons why you should NOT seek to transfer from one MBA program to another.

1) You will likely not get in. Whys that? Well now, you need to write a VERY compelling “Optional Essay.” You need to explain why you didn’t get into the school you wanted at the beginning, and why you aren’t happy at your current school. This is a VERY difficult case to make. To give you a sense, we have worked with literally 2 clients on this task ever, out of 3,000 clients over the past 5 years. And while we were successful, it is a TOUGH sell.

2) More time, more money. If you do get in, you will have to redo your first year, and double down on both time and money. Gosh. And here I thought that my two year MBA was long enough-now you’re gonna add 50% more time and money? A very aggressive move. And by the way, if you DON’T get in, your grades and experience at your first school will surely suffer. Why?

3) You need to focus 100% on the school you are attending. Don’t sell your experience short; dig deep into academics, reach out to professors, develop your network both on campus and beyond. Don’t take yourself out of the game, by pursuing other opportunities. Focus on getting the most of your MBA. Everything else is just a distraction.

Post Sat Jun 11, 2011 2:38 pm
What is up folks. More questions from our friends in China. This one I thought was the best of the bunch. It is long, but if you are into IT and technology, very relevant. Enjoy...

Hi Jon,

can you help me to evaluate my profile for 2012 MBA application?

BS of computer science, Top 15 school in China, GPA 3.2-3.3 (our school is known for low GPA), class rank 2/71, leadership expericence in some student union department, numerous awards for academic performance and extra curricular activity, excellent graduate of province ( 4%).

MS of computer science, TOP 4 school in China, GPA 3.3, 4 research papers ( 2 of them are top tier international conferences ), some awards for academic excellence, volunteer experince for an internationl conference in shanghai

Master in computer science ( Quitted my phd program in second year ), a well-known campus of university of california ( not Berkeley or UCLA ), GPA 3.97 , one research paper, teaching assistant, School fellowship, China earthquake Relief effort volunteer

so far, 2 and 8 months working experience in headquarter of a world leading finanical software company in NYC ( No.1 brand in industry) , software engineer and project manager for critical projects in our department, fast promotion, excellent award certificate for "siginficant contributions" to company ( 5% ), CFA level 2 candidate

GMAT: 740+5
GMAT: 1460+4.5 ( expired )
TOEFL: 647+5 ( expired )

since my current salary is higher than average salary of first-year top MBA graduate ( you know IT engineer is overpaid in USA Smile ), I would only try top 10 schools. If I can not get into top schools, I will staty in my current company.

However, I have very obvious weakness:

1) age: almost 30 now ( almost 31 when I start my MBA study )
2) two master degrees ( I need to explain why I quitted my phd program , otherwise I am at risk of being considered as a degree collector )
3) tech background not welcomed by top schools
4) no volunteer experience after I came out of school ( plan to add some volunteer experience this year )
5) working experience ( 2 and 8 months so far ) is not long compared to other applicants

My career goal is to become an executive in an IT comany or return to China to start my own company in a couple of years. Jon, can you give me some suggestions on my application ? Should I also try harvard/stanford or just focus on other top 10 schools ? Thanks.

[Hello my friend. To be honest, you don’t seem to need much guidance from us-you know all the answers already! : ) You have identified the challenges in your candidacy: age, IT industry (which is tough from China), limited extra-currics, and the two degrees. I am not worried about your 3 years of work experience. And we will address the two degrees in your Optional essay-that will be critical.

But so that leaves the age issue, which we will have to address (carefully, and subtlely) in your essays. You DO have a chance here-and as you apply, don’t focus exclusively on “top ten” programs. Why? Well, did you know that CMU is the second best IT program in the US? And that UT Austin is also in the top five? Same with Stern…so as you look at schools, don’t get too stuck if you would on the “top ten” aspect. The world of IT is unusual, and the best management programs are not always the best programs for IT…]

Post Mon Jun 13, 2011 7:17 am
What is up gang. So Stanford, Haad, CBS...the essays are being released! Wahoooo! Now, lets talk about what it all means.

The essays, as always, havent changed that much. Why is this relevant? BECAUSE YOU CAN START WRITING ALL YOUR APPS TODAY! No need to wait any longer gang--the essays simply wont change too much from year to year. So get started. Dont wait any longer gang, the summer is gonna WHIZ by, I assure you. The Career Goals and Optional Essays for sure are worth digging into immediately.

And finally, have a look at the changes from year to year. Before digging into the new questions, compare the subtle changes from year to year. Why? Because there are CLUES to be had. When Stern moved to add their "creative" essay #3 to the list, I asked a friend who was on the adcom there at the time, "why the change?" She explained that they wanted to get AWAY from the "boring finance" profile, and invite some more creative, non-traditional applicants into the fray. So compare this year's and last year's questions; they will give you valuable clues as to how the schools perspectives are changing, in real time, even if only slightly.

And good luck, as always.

Post Fri Jun 17, 2011 8:45 am
Greetings and salutations.

Today I was chatting with a former client (and now a close friend) about interviews and interview prep. And there was a topic that he brought up that I thought might be worth discussing: non-verbal communication. Or rather, interview strategies...beyond just "telling the right stories."

Here are three way to make sure that you NAIL your interviews...beyond the answers that you have already prepped eight ways from Tuesday:

1. Smile, and be welcoming. Too often, interviewing applicants are so serious; so intense, so focused on the answers to the questions that they dont consider how they LOOK as they give the answers. How they express themselves, non-verbally. It is important to make your interviewer feel at home. Feel welcomed. Feel like youre a good dude. So smile, and be friendly. You want this guy to like you--to want to HANG OUT with you when you're done chatting. So dont be too serious, to focused on work. You already covered all that in your app. Here, make a personal impression.

2. Be engaging. Dont just read the answers you have prepared gang. Smile. Be engaged. Use your hands as you tell stories. Make sure that your voice modulates up, and down (especially for our ESL applicants out there, struggling with English a bit). Pause after statements for effect--in many ways this is a public speech. Rehearse your answers in front of a mirror--not so you can memorize the words, but so you can monitor how you LOOK as you DELIVER the words. No matter how exciting your stories are, if you dont deliver them in an appealing, EXCITING way, your interviewer may...fall asleep. And that is a bad thing.

3. Listen. Nobody likes a know-it-all. Nobody likes the guy who is too self-important to listen. When your interviewer starts to talk about himself, and alums especially LOVE to talk about themselves (I am no exception), LISTEN. This is important not only because he wants you to hear him and be impressed, but because he is offering you HINTS. He is showing you how he sees the world; so drink it in, listen to his perspective, and for the love of god allow that perspective to color yours. AGREE with him. Take his ideas to the NEXT level. Thank him for being the guy who "gets it," and "understands you," etc.

This will make him feel good. And the interviewer who leaves your interview feeling good, will recommend an admit.

Hope this helps gang, and good luck.

Post Sun Jun 19, 2011 12:44 pm
Happy Father's Day my friends. While I am not a father (by a longshot) I wanted to pass along my warm wishes. And as usual, the goings on of the day have...inspired me.

In a few short hours I will be headed off to see the Cubs play. Why is this relevant? Well, because it has to do with Drama. Bear with me (as always).

Take two teams. One, "the Yankees" for example, have won many championships, and are practically expected to win each game they play. The Cubs, in stark contrast, have NEVER won a championship. What does this have to do with anything? Drama.

Were the Cubs to win a championship, it would be HUGE news in Chicago...practically the entire midwest. If the Yankees win...another championship...yaaaawn. (No offense, Bronx Bombers fans out there.)

Why is this significant? Because we need to use this kind of drama in our writing. Even something so simple as "a person walking across the room" could be EXCITING and DRAMATIC. How? Well, put the guy in a blindfold and stick him right in front of a chair he's about to trip over. Drama.

Tonight, the Cubs play the Yankees. And if the Cubs win, boy oh boy. THAT will make for an exciting story.

Hope this helps, and go Cubs.

Post Fri Jun 24, 2011 6:27 pm
Hey gang, and greetings from balmy Shanghai. We are doing some seminars out in China, but will be back early next week. Miss me? : )

One quick note to the wise: I was just chatting with a friend who sits on an adcom at a top-five school (top seven depending on the rankings list.) When she heard that I was in China, she told me very explicitly to relay the following info for eeeveryone to hear: "Tell the Chinese applicants that when they dont do their own work, we can tell. It is easy, and getting easier every year..."

: )

Perhaps some of you out there will know who Im speaking of...

I assured her that weve been telling people the same thing for a couple years.

More on it all shortly--and we will be back stateside (after our Beijing seminar tomorrow) on Wednesday.

Good luck to everyone.

Post Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:18 pm
Greetings from sunny Beijing my friends.

Jon Frank here, your friendly neighborhood consultant. And the neighborhood to which Im referring, of course, is Chaoyang.

There was a great question in our Shanghai seminar yesterday--and I wanted to share it. So my co-founder Raj was presenting a point about how important it is to present your stories cleverly. With "craft." After all, that is Rajs background (screenwriting in Hollywood.)

So one girl asks a great question: which is more important, the facts of your story, or how you tell it? Here is how we responded...

The facts, of course, are more important. That is, without the facts--the cool stuff that youve actually DONE in your career, you are dead in the water. It doesnt matter how great you are at writing--this isnt a writing contest of course. You NEED the facts to make your essays, stories, and work experience sing.

But here's the problem; everyone's got those kinds of stories. Or at least, everyone gunning for the BEST schools in the world has em. THAT is where the writing comes into play. The craft comes into play. Everyone has the great stories, so at THAT point (and not before) THAT is the part where you can make your stories, and your application stand out.

The facts--the experiences themselves are the first part of the equation. The part that you cant LIVE without. Then and only then, do we shift into the craft section of the application prep.

Hope this helps folks, and more from China shortly.

Post Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:12 am
What is up guys. We are BACK from China, and ready to roll. Lets do this shall we? Here is a question we received from one of our friends in Taiwan (we have translated it into English of course...)

Hey Jon, I'm preparing to apply for MBA. I am working as an engineer in the semiconductor company and I have some question about applying B-school.

1.Recently I am thinking about how to tell my direct supervisors that I am thinking about applying for MBA and would like to ask him to write a letter of recommendation. But I am afraid if my director doesn’t approve or once he knows I am going to school and not focusing in working here, he might give those important / valuable things to other colleagues to do?

2. In addition, I am working more like a engineer. Its not easy to write on the leadership part of essay. I'm afraid that I don't have any "real" leadership experience...


Hello my friend. Happy to answer your (great) questions.

1. Yes, this is a very common challenge that many students face. It isn’t Taiwan-specific-I faced it myself when I applied to HBS, Stanford etc. And…I got in everywhere.

Why? Well schools GET it. They understand that sometimes, it is impossible to ask your direct bosses for recs. All you need to do is mention it-either in the optional essay, or elsewhere in the apps. Explain why you couldn’t get one, and you will be juuust fine. Just be sure to find someone who can write about you, who knows you well. If not your direct boss, then someone else…

2. This is a question that we get often. And while you do need “some” management experience, remember: schools aren’t looking for 60 year old dudes who manage million dollar companies. They are targeting 25-30 year olds for a reason: they are OKAY with the fact that you guys don’t have a TON of management experience. What they want to see is management POTENTIAL. Making a couple key decisions, having the ability to manage a couple key people-just one or two critical stories that you can bring out. They know of course that you aren’t a CEO of a MNC.

And that is just fine-all they want to see if your potential….

Hope this helps, and good luck!

Post Mon Jul 04, 2011 9:54 am
What is up folks. A great question about AGE just came in from a friend in Taiwan. Thought I'd share...

I am male, I joined military service after graduating from college, has retired from army for seven years, I am now 33 years old
I finished the TOEFL last week, and took GMAT two years ago and the score is still within the time limit.

Even if everything goes well, I d be 34 when I go to school next year in July or August, then I d be 36 years old when I finish school
Is that too old?

Thanks very much for your advice!

Hello my friend. Happy to offer up some advice here. Yes, you will for sure be on the older side. This means that for US programs, you will need to do some research to see which programs are most open to older candidates. HBS for example is not, whereas Tuck, Ross, and Duke are.

From there, you should also consider European programs. There, the average age tends to be even 5 years OLDER than the range in the US. IMD, for example, is known for finding its graduates GREAT jobs (highest salaries) after graduation, and they specialize in older candidates. And yes, you will be able to find a job; the trick will be to convince the adcom that you are NOT at a dead end in your current career. That’s not what they wanna see-they wanna know that for unusual reasons, you are just a bit older than most. You are still very eager and willing and able to roll up your sleeves alongside the younger folks, and work hard! Military service is a GREAT reason you are a few years behind. They are accustomed to this.

When I was in HBS we had one girl in my class who was 37-she was from China. : ) So provided that you account for this carefully in your app, and apply to the right schools, you should be just fine this year my friend!

Post Wed Jul 06, 2011 6:00 am
And this time a great question from a friend in China, about ONE bad grade. Enjoy, folks.

Urgent, if one of the subjects in university is very low in GPA, do i need to explain to the schools which i apply for? I had a very bad score in one subject in my freshman year in college, only got 64, but the others are all above 80. Is it necessary to explain it to the schools I apply for? If I do, where should I address that? Thanks!

Hey there-this is a judgment call. That is, you could…or you could not. Without getting into the specifics, I would look at it this way. If the class is relevant to your major (business, math, something relevant to bschools) then it might be worth a sentence or two in your optional essay. Dont waste any more space than you have to--the last thing adcoms wanna hear is a sob story! And if the course is NOT relevant, then just ignore it dude. No need to draw any attention to it at all.

Make sense? Hope this helps, and good luck!

Post Sat Jul 09, 2011 4:35 pm
Whats up gang--another great question...this time from TAIWAN. Enjoy.
Question about jobs after MBA
1,What should be the reason to go for MBA and what is the advantage to looking for a job after graduation? What kind of job can we get normally?
2.Do we learn more things form professor’s teaching or mostly from self-study and discuss with classmate?
3.What is the general background MBA students have? Will it make difficult to get along with people due to the rich working experience everyone have (when they are having discusses in class)?
4. I heard that the courses are all very heavy and hard, will that make it difficult to graduate?
5. I don’t have management experience, but have six years of working experience in International Trade. Is that bad?

Hey there! Happy to offer up some thoughts here. Let’s go in order shall we?

Lots of reasons to go get an MBA. To meet interesting people, to get better jobs, to explore new fields, to take a couple years off from work…these are all great reasons. Many people who graduate from MBA programs go into management consulting-although many go into other areas, including banking and general management.

You will learn MUCH more from your classmates than from your professors. This is especially true if you go to a school which focuses on the case study method-that method MEANS that the professor’s job is to help the students teach one another.

The whole point of the MBA classroom is that everyone has DIFFERENT background. This doesn’t make it hard, it makes it AMAZING! That is how you will learn so much-by interacting with people from such different backgrounds.

Some schools are easier than others of course. But generally, your first year will be hard, and your second year will be much easier. It all just takes…some getting used to. I was up until 3 or 4 every morning during my first semester at HBS. But then…that passed.

Many people use the MBA to achieve a career switch. And it works well for them! But one word of warning-do NOT say that that is what you want to do in your apps! Career changes are VERY risky, and you will not want to focus on that in your essays. Tell them that you will go back into your current field; that way they will be assured you will get a JOB. That’s critical stuff. Once you’ve assured them of this fact, once you get to school, you can do whateeeever you want. : ) But avoid career changes in your app at all costs.

Hope this helps my friend, and good luck!

Post Mon Jul 11, 2011 8:36 am
Okay folks, we have had some requests that we talk about Private Equity and Venture Capital. But as always, Im gonna try to keep eeeeveryone on their toes.

Lots of clients last year (and a few this year) are VERY excited about Private Equity (PE) and Venture Capital (VC). It is their short term goal, their long term goal…and everything in between. Well I am here to tell you that often times, this is a BAD idea. Lets avoid PE and VC. Why? I’ll tell ya.

Top Three Reasons why PE/VC is a bad idea for your MBA goals

1) It is impossible to get a PE job. There are fewer and fewer of em out there, and if you’re counting on a job in PE after your MBA, schools will worry. Why? Because they are judged (in fact they judge one another) on their JOB statistics. If you say you’re gonna get a job (that they don’t think you can get) they wont let you into their MBA program. You will present a risk, and risks from the adcom’s perspective, are bad.

2) Everyone’s doing it. So many people are making this mistake folks-1 out of every 4 essays I read talks about PE. So…why follow this trend? Not only is it hard to sell (see #1 above) but even if you DO sell it, you are now in a VERY competitive pool! Even among the guys who CAN get a job in PE, now you have to prove…that you’re better than THOSE dudes are? That’s hard man. Instead, what about general management, banking, trading…SOMETHING to make yourself stand out perhaps…

3) Do you have the background for it…really? Most people do not. Sure you have traded stocks and bonds. Perhaps you have even done a start-up, or raised money for some companies on the side. But…those things are NOT PE. And you wont get credit for em, no matter how hard you try, on the PE front. If you don’t have the PE background, you are fighting an uphill battle-perhaps impossibly so.

Hope this helps gang, and good luck!

Post Sun Jul 17, 2011 3:06 pm
Okay gang, here is a point we have made in the past but I wanted to repeat it. Ive heard myself saying it to clients on the phone quite a bit this weekend...

Conventional wisdom is to apply to aaaall your toughest schools (your stretch programs) in R1 because you have the best chance to get in, right? Well Im here to tell you that that is the WRONG way to go about it. Follow my logic here:

We guide all our friends to apply to a mix of stretch AND safety schools in R1, and in R2. Mix it up. Why? Well, because that way you get the best of both worlds. Take advantage of the "R1 benefit" with your stretch schools, sure. Maybe that extra edge will help with HBS. But also take advantage of it with your SAFETY schools too, gang. Those schools will THROW themselves at ya. Let them offer you some money, and GET INTO SCHOOL EARLY. Whew, that will feel preeeetty good wouldnt you say?

Now, youve followed our advice. Youve gotten into school number 5 on your list of 7. Now for round 2, you dont need to worry about 6 or 7, you can just go out to BEAT your safer program. And trust me folks, it will feel GOOD to get into a program...

So thats our advice, hope it helps yall...AND GOOD LUCK!


Post Tue Jul 19, 2011 12:45 pm
Hey gang, we were doing an interview on grad school and business school--thought Id share a quick Q&A...

How does one decide if bschool is right for them? What kind of questions should they be asking?

This is the oldest question in the book--and the answer is...it depends! In our opinion, there are two ways to approach this question. The first is with regard to job prospects. One can do a simple calculation--would I get better work, more interesting work, make more money--whatever the metrics are, with this degree. If the degree puts you in a firmly, tangibly BETTER position, then GO TO SCHOOL. You are currently at Point A. You want to get to Point C. Will a masters degree get you to point B? Maybe point B+? If yes, then GO TO SCHOOL.

Now. There is one other way to look at it. This is what our clients call our "touchy-feely" side. Namely, life is a journey. There is an instance where you may NOT benefit a great deal, from a professional perspective, from bschool. But it still may be worth your time. Why? Because you will meet new people, have new experiences, perhaps live in a new city--all these can be powerful incentives to go to school. Suck the marrow out of life, and take yourself to NEW experiences and settings along the way.

If neither of these two scenarios appeals to you--either the job-oriented, or the "touchy-feely," then bschool likely isnt for you.

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