Why B-Schools Reject MBA Applicants

UC IrvineBusiness School Competitions Give Startups a Boost


Think college rivalries are only related to sports?

Guess again!

Sure, students and parents don’t tailgate before a debate competition. And ESPN won’t run highlights of a design contest (unless spelling is involved). Still, competitions are a serious business.  They provide students with great experience and feedback on launching a business. And the prize money — $25,000 in the case of the Social New Venture Challenge – is pretty good seed capital.

So how do these competitions work? Generally, they’re held in the spring and open to both first and second year students. However, they may be a better fit, schedule-wise, for second year students. According to Jim Theroux, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Massachusetts Isenberg School of Management, first years often “have very little flexibility in their schedules. They’re quite booked up with classes and other activities,” whereas second year students are working through electives.

Students can compete as individuals or in teams. Generally, teams fare better since responsibilities can be distributed to members based on their strengths. What’s more, a team environment better resembles a start-up situation. In the words of Connie Bourassa-Shaw, Director of the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, “It’s important to establish priorities, she says, and serious entrepreneurs learn to do this.”

Many times, these competitions are an extension of the course curriculum. For example, students at the Foster School of Business can take a 10-week course covering marketing, business plans, and other entrepreneurial necessities before entering their start-up business plan competition. The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business offers a similar course where students can get real time feedback on their side businesses from faculty and peers.

Along with taking advantage of courses and the academic community, how else can aspiring entrepreneurs prepare for competitions? Andrea Sreshta, a Chicago Booth student and co-founder of the 2012 winning start-up at the Social New Venture Challenge, recommends studying previous winners. She even encourages contestants to contact previous competition participants and review past submissions like business plans to better understand what appeals to the judges.

That said, business school competitions are sometimes won long before students step onto campus. Isenberg’s Jim Theroux encourages candidates interested in competitions to “get good quality business experience. Get to know the problems of an industry.” That way, Theroux adds, students can build a network who can test their products…or even serve as advisors or team members.

Source: US News and World Report

Bad Habits To Avoid In Business School


“What got you here won’t get you there?”

Ever hear that line? It sure applies to business school. You may have graduated with honors and notched a few promotions, but now you’re among the best-of-the-best. And you’re not so special anymore. The expectations are higher; the work load is greater; and the pace is faster. In short, you have less room for error. When you’re working in teams, you can’t disguise your shortcomings like you could as an undergrad.

That’s the central message of a recent column by Parker Whiteway, an MBA columnist for Education Post. In particular, he cites three bad habits that can trip up a first year academically and socially. They include the following:

Avoid Branding: Like eighth graders, MBA students will seize on a flaw and label you with it. Whiteway cites a student dubbed “Salad Girl” for chewing loudly in class as an example. And everyone knows that once you get a tag, it’s nearly impossible to shed. Be aware of how you act – and how it could impact your peers. Practice basic courtesy and etiquette. In Whiteway’s words, make sure “your reputation is built upon positive factors, like participation and engagement in activities.”

Refresh Your Study Skills: We all did it as undergrads. We put off studying and crammed at the last possible moment. Many of us got away with it. Well, that won’t cut it in business school. Whiteway encourages new students to “try different study styles and keep track of your results.” Natural talent and effort may work as an undergrad, but business school requires precision and strategy. Wasted motion just diverts time and energy…and those are your most precious commodities in an MBA program.

Come Out Of Your Shell: It isn’t easy being an introvert, especially among the type A high achievers who populate every b-school program. Face it, your curriculum will include a slew of team projects. What’s more, the alumni and student networks are key to your career success. So do what you need to do: Prepare questions and statements in advance; Practice your elevator pitch; and summon the courage to reach out. You’re shortchanging yourself if you don’t.

Source: Education Post

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