Getting Accepted: The Best of Jon Fuller

House of Books

Pursuing Additional Education Before An MBA

Do MOOCs carry any weight in an application?

“Thanks for your post…there might be a marginal impact with the “verified certificate” but I don’t see it as being essential.

Given that you already have an academic background in business (and presumably did well), an adcom won’t likely be looking for an alternative transcript to provide evidence of your academic ability in a business-school relevant classroom setting. Shouldn’t hurt, though. The one thing I’d be mindful of is how these additional courses play into your overall narrative and goals…for instance, you wouldn’t want these new courses to confuse or contradict your goals or what you plan on focusing on in your MBA studies.”

Are schools open to students getting a second MBA?

“Generally, I think it’s a hard sell to convince an adcom that an additional MBA is warranted. Many candidates in this situation inadvertently make the impression that their main motivations for getting the second degree are that their first MBA program has a weak alumni network, poor professional options, lack a name brand, etc. That paints the picture that you’re focused on the transactional aspects of the degree experience, and that’s not a good recipe for admissions success.”

“I’ve on the record a few times raising concerns with applicants who want to get a second MBA. Most top programs will allow applications from candidates who already possess an MBA (generally the more applications, the better, since that can really only help a program’s stats), but unfortunately, rather than being an asset to you, your prior MBA is only likely to complicate a subsequent MBA application process.

It’s rather challenging for someone to make a compelling case as to why s/he actually needs a second MBA…while there is variability in academic quality among programs, it’s hard to make the argument that you NEED to take all those finance, marketing, accounting, strategy, etc. courses again. As a result, adcoms will often have an initial reaction that you’re mostly looking for a second MBA because the employment prospects from the first weren’t that great, or you’re hoping to plug into a better alumni network. In a competitive application process, this sort of thing would be enough to significantly hinder your application success.”

Should I get an MSc or MSF degree before enrolling in an MBA program?

“I think the MSc might be a bit overkill for the purposes of helping your MBA competitiveness, especially given that you already have an academic background in business-related areas. That said, if the MSF is going to help you advance more quickly in your post-UG job, get you more responsibility, etc., then it might make a bit more sense since you’ll hopefully be able to present a more compelling professional profile.”

Strategies For Older Candidates

How can I compete if I’m older than many of their incoming first years?

“This is something that can be an issue for some candidates, but it doesn’t really need to be if you play your cards right. The concern that adcoms sometimes have is just how likely you are to be engaged with the overall MBA experience – both inside and outside of class. Older candidates are often fine in class but then aren’t as involved in extracurriculars and the like since they’re often like to spend time doing different things (like seeing their wife and three kids!). Balance in this area is especially important for a place like Kellogg. So to combat concerns that an adcom might have, be sure to bolster your extracurricular activities as much as you can to provide evidence that you can juggle lots of different things/activities.”

“I don’t think you need to sweat about things too much, but how and where you tackle this challenge will depend a bit on the nuances of the application process/prompts for each school. But in general, my main advice to you is what I would tell just about any older-than-the-norm candidate – be sure to be speak about how you’re eager to get involved in clubs/organizations, be involved in the social aspects of the program, etc., and hopefully be able to provide some evidence of extracurricular activities. I’m pretty sure that last part might be problematic for you given the nature of our work.”

“Other things they’ll be looking to hear are your answers to the classic “why MBA” and “why now” questions. Depending on your current geographic location, they may also be curious about why full-time MBA instead of part-time. Part of your focus on FT may be the shift you’re planning from one kind of consulting to another, but PT programs are becoming more common vehicles for career shifters, so I wouldn’t rule it out.”


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