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Admissions Straight Talk

Advice on applying to business, grad, law, and medical school.

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An Admissions Expert’s Top Tips for Business School Applicants

Accepted MBA admissions consultant Esmeralda Cardenal shares advice with applicants [Show summary]Esmeralda Cardenal, an Accepted consultant and former admissions professional at business schools around the U.S. and abroad, is an expert on both sides of the admissions process. In this episode, she shares her advice on improving your MBA applicant profile, applying to data science and analytics programs, and how applicants can prepare during this unconventional time for schools around the world.Hear expert tips for a stand-out application [Show notes]Esmeralda Cardenal is no stranger to Admissions Straight Talk. She was a guest shortly after joining Accepted and is returning to Admissions Straight Talk just about five years later. (Frankly, that's much too big a gap! A real omission on my part.) Prior to joining Accepted, Esmeralda Cardenal was the Associate Director of Admissions at Yale School of Management, the Director of MBA admissions at the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State, and then across the pond, she served as a consultant to the Cardiff Business School in the UK. In the last five years, she's become a much-loved consultant at Accepted, helping Accepted's clients who are applying to MBA, data science, and data analytics programs get accepted.What are your top tips for dealing with a low GPA? [2:17]The GPA is very, very important for the application. If you have a low GPA, there is not much you can do about it. You can't just go back and erase time. But there are ways that you can mitigate the impact of a low GPA in your application. So I would say the very first thing you could do is compensate for a low GPA with a strong score, with a strong GMAT or GRE. That would be the best thing.> (opens in a new tab)"><< WATCH: Get Accepted to Business School With Low Stats! >>Another way could be, and you could do it in conjunction with a high score, would be to create alternative transcripts. By that I mean, take classes that are relevant to business school, like accounting, economics, statistics, calculus, and try to get solid A's on those. That would help you provide evidence that you can succeed academically at business school, and also, use the optional essay or the additional information essay. Sometimes they even provide a box in the application where you can explain what happened.As a former director of admissions, I can tell you that there is nothing better than having an applicant who can actually admit the situation because it tells you that the person did research and knew that they had a lower GPA than the rest of the class. So I would say admit that. Explain what happened. The admission's committee doesn't know you, so unless you tell them, they won't know what happened. Was that because of a family illness? Was it because you had to attend to a personal emergency that had you distracted for some time? Was it that you were maybe over-committed in some other extracurricular activities or sports, for example? Or was it that you have to work to support your schooling?Whatever it was, explain it in the optional essay, but also provide evidence of improvement. Mention the classes where you did well, or maybe you had an upward trend. Maybe the first two years were low, but the other two years were higher, and maybe talk about those classes you have taken outside, the alternative transcript that I mentioned, etc., so they can see that you took the right course of action and that you are ready to succeed academically in business school.hbspt.cta.load(58291, 'b6c9f876-0125-49b0-b2cf-3c5c8301554f', {}); When you have a low GMAT, then I would say the obvious would be to (we are in March right now) retake it. This is the perfect time to practice more to get the help of an online class, hire a tutor. You can do those things virtually now, so definitely prepare to retake. If you feel that you have taken it as many times as possible,


31 Mar 2020

Rank #1

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How to Prepare for a Successful Round 1 MBA Application

Is there a secret recipe for MBA application success?Linda Abraham lays out seven steps that MBA applicants can take now to enhance their chance of success when the MBA applications come out over the summer. Listen to the show!What steps can you take NOW to improve your chances of acceptance to top MBA programs?The content I’m about to explore mirrors the training I offered in 7 Steps to a Successful MBA Application in 2021, a recent webinar. I feel that this material is so valuable that I don’t want my podcast listeners to miss it. What motivates me to provide this training?A frustration with applicants who start the process too late and shortchange their chances at their dream schools. We love to start working with applicants now because our clients can improve their profile, qualifications, and chances of acceptance when they start early!The amount of limiting and misleading imagery in MBA advising from adcom directors, consultants, and sometimes MBA applicants and students themselves.The paradox of MBA admissions. After 25 years in this business, I’ve seen a lot of metaphors used in describing the MBA admissions process. “It’s an accounting exercise, not a marketing exercise,” or, “It’s all about personal branding,” or, “It’s all about marketing.” While I believe metaphors and similes can be useful, I think they have been abused in MBA admissions, obscuring the process.I do not promise an image-free training! I do promise that this training will provide you with a purpose-driven, goal-centered approach to the MBA application, including what you should be doing now (six to nine months before you submit your application) to maximize your chances of acceptance at top MBA programs when you apply in Round 1 or Round 2 of the 2020–21 application season.Let’s cultivate those three seeds into a flourishing, healthy MBA application. (Not bad for someone who just complained about abuse of metaphors in MBA admissions!)When applicants come to us at the last minuteYes, we can polish your essays during the week before the essays are due, but we can do so much more if you start early. Use the next few months before the applications come out to improve your profile and maximize your chances of acceptance. Step 1: Define your goals, the foundation of your applicationBegin with the end in mind: Clarify your post-MBA goal, the foundation for your entire MBA application strategy, even if it changes while in B-school.In Admissions Straight Talk Episode 185, I asked Ross Admissions Director Soojin Kwon, “What makes an application really stand out for you?” She responded, “People who seem to really know what they want and know themselves, and who can articulate it well. They can connect the dots.”Define your post-MBA goals, both short-term and long-term. Short-term goals include your industry and functional focus (something you do, not something you study). Long-term goals, those five to ten years down the road, are your aspirations or dreams  --perhaps a way of contributing to the betterment of society on a larger scale. These are less critical from an admission perspective, but if you have something like this, don’t hide it. Prepare to discuss.If your goals are fuzzy, look at what you like and are good at. Talk to people in positions that you find attractive. What do they actually do? What education do they believe was useful to them? Do they wish they would have had before they started? From what programs do they want to hire people for the positions you find appealing? Then take time to think about what you want to do. Reflect. Once you have a clearly defined goal, it will be a substantive and meaningful guide in the process of choosing schools—your North Star.Realize that at many schools, a clearly defined, realistic post-MBA goal is as much a requirement of admission as a competitive GMAT or quality work experience. Chicago Booth explicitly says that it seeks a “sense of person...


17 Mar 2020

Rank #2

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When Is the MBA Worth It?

This week, I'm taking a podcasting staycation and airing an encore of our most popular MBA podcast so far in 2020: Is an MBA Worth It, or Is the Sky Falling Down on the MBA Degree?I recorded this episode in December, and it aired in January. Despite the radical transformation of our lives since then, most of the advice in this episode is still highly relevant. And perhaps the title, which was somewhat facetious when we chose it, has become almost prophetic.The MBA may be more worth it than ever, especially if you can take advantage of the extended or added deadlines this cycle. The guidance on determining if the MBA is worth is still valid.As to whether the sky is falling down on the MBA degree, it has to some extent fallen down on business schools, who fear massive “summer melt.” But next year when the recession hits, things could change.And now, Is the MBA Worth it, or Is the Sky Falling Down on the MBA Degree?For the complete show notes, check out the original blog post.Related Links:Is an MBA Still Worth It?Paying for Your MBAHow Are Business Schools, Applicants, and Admitted Students Responding to COVID-19?Accepted’s MBA Admissions Consulting ServicesRelated Shows:A Conversation About Today’s MBA MarketplaceEntrepreneurship at HBS: How Stride will Help You Fund Your FutureHow to Leverage an HBS Education: The Story of LeverEdgeSubscribe:Podcast Feedhbspt.cta.load(58291, '6f59af66-a942-476e-a35a-feafe5c6a5c2');


17 Apr 2020

Rank #3

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Encore: Med School Admissions Veteran Shares Her Experience: How to Get In

I am swamped at this time of year with clients facing early January deadlines so I decided to end 2019 with one of our most popular shows of the year, my interview with Accepted’s own Cydney Foote, who started advising Accepted’s med school clients to acceptance way back in 2001.For you medical school applicants aiming for a summer 2020 application, and hopefully a June 2020 application, pull up a chair. Cyd walks you through the process including: How should you choose where to apply? How many schools should you apply to? What’s the difference between the personal statement, the MMEs and the activity descriptions? How to approach secondary applications? What about non-traditional applicants? What are your top Interview tips Should you take a gap year?And she even has advice for 3rd year med students planning to apply this summer to residency programs.I again want to thank you for listening to the podcast and wish you much success in this brand new, exciting year and decade.For the complete show notes, please check out the original blog post.Related Links:• Get in Touch With Cyd Foote!• How to Nail Your Medical School Interviews, a webinar• Get Accepted to Med School with Low Stats, a webinar• Activity Descriptions for Med School: 4 Questions That Will Make Yours Awesome• Accepted's Medical Admissions ConsultingRelated Shows:• Doctor, Mother, SMILE Score Creator• Writing for Medical School: Personal Statements, Activities, and Secondaries• Kaiser Medical School: State-of-the-Art, Patient-Focused, and Free• Apply at Your Best: Advice from a Med School Admissions ExpertSubscribe:     Podcast Feedhbspt.cta.load(58291, '724b2ff2-b46c-4656-87b9-4a3e2ecb58e8', {});


31 Dec 2019

Rank #4

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What Med School Applicants Need to Know About the University of Colorado School of Medicine

A conversation with Dr. Nichole Zehnder, Assistant Dean of Admissions and Student Affairs at the University of Colorado School of Medicine [Show summary]Dr. Nichole Zehnder, Assistant Dean of Admissions and Student Affairs at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, shares an overview of the school’s unique offerings and admissions process for prospective med school applicants.Get to know the University of Colorado School of Medicine [Show notes]Today's guest, Dr. Nichole Zehnder, earned her MD at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in 2006. She did her residency in internal medicine and is a practicing physician affiliated with the University of Colorado Hospital, and she's also an Associate Professor of Hospital Medicine at the University of Colorado. More importantly, for purposes of this interview, she is the Assistant Dean of Admissions and Student Affairs at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.Can you give an overview of the Colorado School of Medicine's program, focusing on the more distinctive elements? [1:37]The University of Colorado School of Medicine is a four-year MD/PhD program. We're LCME accredited and affiliated with AAMC. We offer spots for 10 MSPP students, so 10 MD/PhD students in each of our intern classes, and then 174 MD spots.I think there's a few different distinct parts of our curriculum, some of which are just blooming on the horizon, which I'd love to feature here, as well as some things that are already in existence. Some of the more notable parts of our school and our curriculum as it exists right now are our longitudinal interprofessional curriculum. We're fortunate to be on one of the biggest healthcare campuses in the United States. We have our medical school, our dental school, our PA school, our pharmacy school, and our nursing school all here on our campus. And with that, we think that we should take that geographic advantage and have our learners learn together in a true interprofessional environment. That starts here at CU in the first year, continues all the way through the fourth year or the senior year of medical school. That's one of our really distinct opportunities that our students can take advantage of. And that's true for both MD and MD/PhD students.I think a few other parts of our curriculum really deserve a shout out. One is, we have quite a few developed, longitudinal, integrated clerkships in our clinical year. Our students who will be entering in this year's intern class, so the 2020 intern class, have the opportunity to, if they want, participate in five different longitudinal integrated clerkship models. Everything from urban underserved care at our Denver Health site to our C-CLIC, which is our rural and community longitudinal integrated clerkship.The longitudinal clerkship model is a model that's been done for decades. Here at CU, we've been doing it for about the past six or seven years. And that's done in the clerkship phase of training, so the clinical phase of training, which for some schools is the third year, for some schools it's earlier. For us right now, it's in the third year, and I'll get to that part here in a second. But the students have the opportunity to do the entirety of their clerkship or clinical year at this specific site.The Colorado School of Medicine has a branch in Colorado Springs, although most of your campus is outside of Denver. What is the advantage of that? Why would a student choose that? [4:09]Our main campus is located at the Anschutz Medical Campus. That's in Aurora, which is east of the Denver Metro area. Colorado Springs is about an hour south of the Denver area, and we have 24 of our students do their clinical training down in Colorado Springs.One might think with Colorado Springs that they may be more interested in mountain medicine or rural medicine, but actually we have students who are interested in all of those things.


24 Mar 2020

Rank #5

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All About SDN, The Largest Online Pre-Med Community

Interview with Dr. Lee Burnett and Laura Turner of Student Doctor Network [Show Summary]Applying to medical school is a stressful process, and applicants understandably are looking for all the help and support they can get along the way. Student Doctor Network (SDN) is leading the way in providing that support. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, SDN provides an incredible set of resources to applicants, from the more traditional forums to a specialty selector, application cost calculator, and customizable study schedule. Dr. Lee Burnett, founder of SDN, and Laura Turner, Executive Director, join us to share everything you need to know about SDN.Find out why and how the largest online premed community was formed- and how it can help you. [Show Notes]I’m thrilled to introduce our guests today – Dr. Lee Burnett and Laura Turner. Dr. Burnett, whose main job is serving as the Commander of the 32nd Hospital Center at the U.S. Army’s Fort Polk in Louisiana, is also the Founder and Director of Student Doctor Network (SDN). He graduated from UC Davis and then attended the Western University of Health Sciences for med school, joining the Army Reserves after graduation.  He completed his Family Medicine residency at UC Irvine, started practicing, and was called to duty. He has served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Korea during his military career.Laura earned her bachelors at UC Davis and her masters at UCLA, both in mechanical engineering. She worked in marketing and project management until joining SDN in 2009. She became Executive Director of SDN in 2012 and has served in that capacity ever since.Lee, can you tell us a little about yourself? Your background and where you grew up and how you got interested in medicine? [2:11]I was born and raised in Northern California near Sacramento. My father worked for the state, with the Song Brown Commission, and this was at a time when people feared that everyone would become a specialist, though primary care was still necessary to control healthcare costs. As I was growing up, through his involvement with the state and meeting lots of primary care doctors, naturally I became interested in primary care and healthcare in general, so I intended to become a family medicine physician.https://blog.accepted.com/why-do-you-want-to-be-a-doctor-short-video/Lee, how did you come to pursue your career, primarily in the military? [3:46]I was in residency when a recruiter came and said the military would reimburse some of your student loans if you spend six years in the reserves. My dad and grandfather both served in the military, so it was a family tradition and I was interested in doing it to take care of soldiers. This was in 1997, a time when the Berlin Wall had fallen and there didn’t seem much risk of future war in any significant capacity. I graduated from UC-Irvine in 2000, and then 2001 came along, so my thinking that the commitment would be one weekend a month, two weeks a year went out the window. I was deployed a couple times to Iraq, and while deployed I worked with a great team and became very interested in treating soldiers on the front lines. I really enjoyed my practice back home, but it couldn’t compare to what I could do as an Army physician so I stuck with it.What’s the backstory to your becoming the co-founder and director of SDN? [6:18]It really started as a newspaper while I was still in medical school. I was at Western University in the 1993-1994 timeframe, pre internet. There was no newspaper for osteopathic schools so we thought why don’t we create a paper and publish it, and get advertisers so it would be free for the students and a great way to find out what is happening at other schools across the country. At the time we would never know what was going on with our colleagues otherwise. As the web became a thing, we added the articles online, and then it naturally transitioned to a chat room to partnering with other websites.


14 Jan 2020

Rank #6

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Wake up to Your Amazing Career Possibilities

Woken awakes you to meaningful career opportunities [Show summary]Are you wondering what your career path should be? How to create it? Our guest today is an NYU Stern MBA and associate-certified coach who also serves as a consultant for the Career Design Lab at Columbia. In addition, she is the founder and CEO of Woken, an online platform to help you discover which job you will love. Let's learn her story and see how this interview will help you find that amazing career.Interview with Rachel Serwetz, NYU Stern Tech MBA grad and Founder & CEO of Woken [Show notes]Our guest today, Rachel Serwetz, graduated from Binghamton University after majoring in human development and minoring in Spanish, management, and global studies. She then worked for Goldman Sachs for three years, followed by shorter stints at other companies, and earned her MBA at NYU Stern in technology in 2019. She also founded Woken, way back in May, 2013, and has served as its CEO ever since. Let's talk a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up? What do you like to do for fun? Things like that. [3:35]I grew up in Long Island, New York, in Hewlett, a very exciting place. I've got a few jobs at the moment, so with my limited time outside of work, honestly I wish it was more exciting, but I try to just really hang out with family and friends, work out when I can, explore the city, travel. I wish there were times that I could fit in some more interesting hobbies, but work has sort of taken over this.Let's go back a little bit to your time at Goldman Sachs. Were you in a HR role there? Obviously that's your focus now, but did you start out in HR? Were you an investment banker at Goldman Sachs? What were you doing there? [4:10]So that was my first job, and I was in operations. I did cash management, I was part of the treasury and the liquidity team. And that doesn't have much to do with what I do now. And it wasn't really what I necessarily had an interest in, but when I started, I knew I liked the idea of operations. In hindsight, I think I probably should have gone more for those HR-type teams and path. But at the time I didn't really know that that was right for me. So I was able to land in operations, and it was a really good experience, but I was lucky at that point to take on projects that ended up relating to HR.But I took on those projects just because I found them interesting, I wanted to help our teammates develop skills, and to coach them and to help with recruiting, and so I just dove into things that seemed interesting to me. And then after a few years of doing that, I realized I was ready for the next thing, and I realized that a lot of what I had been doing was in the HR realm. And so I was lucky to be able to pivot more closely into that world after I left Goldman.Did you go back to NYU Stern for your MBA to get specifically more training in, let's say, career services and HR, or was there another goal? And if you were so interested in HR, why did you go for the one-year tech degree? HR isn't known as the most techie of fields. [5:37]There are a few answers to this. First and foremost, I always knew I wanted an MBA. I actually took my GMAT at my senior year of college. I wasn't a business major; I just had this intuition that I really just wanted more education, and I had a strong interest in business. I didn't really know where it would lead, or where I'd be at the time of getting that degree, but I just really knew there was more for me, and I knew I had that business orientation, even though it didn't end up being my major. So I knew from early on that I wanted that experience.Once I had ended up working more in HR, and learning about coaching and developing that, that's when I started really getting interested in the problems I was helping people with when I was coaching. I was helping with career exploration, and I started to get interested in, how can I assist them at size and scale,


4 Mar 2020

Rank #7