#14 Undergrad and Master’s Business Programs Transcript


They want to see increasing responsibility advancement on the job. It’s not just about the title, but it is about increasing responsibility, both in terms of people managing perhaps assets manage the impact on the job. What have you achieved? What have you accomplished in those three to eight years of four or five years?


What difference have you made? That’s what schools are kind of looking for in terms of work experience and leadership roles. That’s the other element


High school students who know early, they want a career in a business field. A bachelor’s degree in business may seem obvious. However, the option of a master’s in business administration, an MBA or a master’s in management opens up new and different opportunities. On this week’s episode, I sat down with Linda Abraham and MBA admissions experts since 1999.


She shares wisdom gained from decades of advising students who have been admitted to top schools throughout the country, including Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Columbia, Kellogg, MIT, Darden stern, Michigan. Just to name a few, no wonder business insider says, Linda is the consultant to know if you want to get into a top business school.


I’m Lisa marker Robbins. And I want to welcome you to college and career clarity, a flourish coaching production. Let’s dive right into a great conversation.


Welcome to this episode of college and career clarity podcast. I am so delighted to welcome my guest, Linda Abraham. She is the president and founder of accepted the premium. Missions consultancy and has helped applicants around the world gain admissions to graduate and undergraduate schools since 1994. She is the host of the admission straight talk podcast and co-author of MBA admission for Smarties, CBS news, the wall street journal, the New York times, us news, and world report Bloomberg business.


Business because, and poets and quants are among the media outlets that have sought her expertise in admissions business, insider named Linda an MBA admissions consultant. To know if you want to get into a top business school. Welcome Linda. Thank you so much for having. I am so excited to explore this topic today with you about business schools, undergrad, but even more importantly, the MBA program, the masters in business administration.


I know I have a lot to learn. We have listeners who are always curious about the programs, majors and how that relates to the careers. And so. Uh, let’s just start off a bit by talking about what academic preparation for a career in business and an MBA do you see as being required? You know, that’s oftentimes we’re guiding students on while they’re still in high school.


What classes can you be taking there? What are the academic requirements? Once you get into college, if you’re thinking ahead to an MBA and I know you’ve got a lot of insight that can help guide families and students. Well, thank you again for the introduction for the question. Let’s first take the high school student, the high school.


Especially in terms of the MBA is really an exploratory mode. Okay. Certainly getting good grades is always a good idea, but there are lots of things that can develop in the high school student qualities that are valued by MBA admissions committees. All right. Number one is. So if the high school student is active on campus, either student government sports, the arts clubs, whatever, and takes leadership roles, takes responsibility.


That is something that will develop within them qualities that will lead to explainer experiences that will show up in the MBA application. The high school experience itself, frankly, when you’re applying to MBA programs is really pretty much irrelevant. It’s more about again, developing those qualities.


So you’re going to want good grades in whatever classes you take, because that’s developing your study skills. You’re gonna want good quantity. What is sometimes overlooked by people interested in, in business, or at least teens is that communications is critical. So your ability to write well, your poise and your verbal skills are also very important.


So if you take drama or you get involved in debate club on campus or model you in those again are going to be developing qualities that ultimately will be valuable both in college and the business world. And ultimately when you apply to MBA program, You can also get summer jobs that are in business.


And that could be as simple as working at your local hamburger or a pizza joint. It doesn’t have to be an internship at McKinsey. And when you’re in 10th grade, that’s not necessary. Okay. International. If you can learn another language, if you travel in high school, it’s a broadening experience. And again, it will develop in you the multicultural perspective that will be valued both in college and later on when you apply for job.


And ultimately when you go to business school, teamwork. That can be on projects in high school. It can be I’m sports, the basketball team, the football team, the soccer club, whatever it is, the cross country team. My son grew tremendously when he was on cross country. And I don’t mean just physically. He was doing that too.


I mean, in terms of maturity and, and various skills that are important as an adult. I think the other thing that the high school student has to think about, they don’t have to decide yet, but they should think about is do they want to study business as an undergrad or do they want to study something else?


Whether it’s computers or life sciences or philosophy, and just take courses that will prepare them for a career in business and, and then, you know, get a job afterwards or. Go for a master’s in management program, not the MBA. Master’s in management, which is early career or post-college no career to reprogram in business, usually a one year.


It’s not as well-known as the MBA, but it does exist and was offered by very good, very fine programs. You know, you’ve mentioned there’s two routes, right? The undergrad in business, or thinking ahead to an MBA, let’s say a student really has curated experience, gotten the leadership, gotten exposure, and really knows they want to go into business.


They. Are going to go on to a graduate degree. They would love to get an MBA at some point in the future. I’m curious, how do you recommend those students go into undergrad? Like if they, and not everybody can know this, but you know, we were talking earlier, you have those students who know from an early age that they got their path down.


And if they said to you, I definitely want to go to an MBA. Would you recommend undergrad for. Major be business, or do you think it would be better to go a different route? I think it would depend on, on the student. All right. If, if they are really, really focused and they want to let’s say, do wealth management or investment banking or something are more management consulting and they love business, the, let them major what they love.


Okay. On the other hand, if they also like engineering or technology or communications or history or with. College is a great time for them. It’s really their last time when they can pursue that kind of an interest in depth and as long as they at the same time, cause they still have the passion for business are preparing for that career.


Then a, I think they’ll do better in college because they’re doing what they love. Most employers in business will value this other side to them, right? Th the more qualitatively analytical side or the insight into life sciences or the knowledge of technology. That will come along with their quant skills and the training that the employer will provide.


And that will again, be something that from an MBA admissions perspective will almost add interest to them. So there’s lots of different ways to slice and dice it. But I think that the student has to really examine themselves. And see, you know, how are they going to thrive? Yeah. That soft awareness inside our course, I preach it all the time, probably to the point where people get tired of hearing me say it, but starting early to just build that self-awareness is so crucial.


Even you mentioned in there, I’ve heard you say twice. Good grades are important and getting into the MBA. And then you mentioned in this, when you were just answering this last question about pursue an undergrad major, if you know you’re going into the MBA program, eventually pursue the major that you are excited about and resonates with you.


Because as another factor you’re probably going to do better academically. Let’s talk a little bit about grades because I often find there’s a disconnect of students not realizing that that rigor in even undergrad is much greater. And if they expect that they’re going to get the same exact grades that they got in high school, and that is not always the case.


So how did grades play into that MBA admission package that is somewhat fluid, right? Because of test optionality, but let’s leave test optionality aside for now. Let’s assume for that. Most of the programs that an applicant will be applying to are going to require both grades and test score. Okay. And then we’ll go back to those where the test is, is waived or optional or those waivers.


So grades show that the applicant has a self-defense. To study and apply themselves in an academic environment. Hopefully they will have taken some quad classes and those grades in quad classes will show that they have the ability to do well in a demanding quantitative academic program. That’s what the grades.


They’ll also look at the non-con classes too, so that you can show you have discipline in all areas and perhaps those writing skills and all that. But that’s what the grades show that you can perform academically in a test optional world, where you might be showing grades to show that you can get a test waiver or you don’t have to take a test at all.


Then the grades are even more important if let’s say enter and grade trend is very important because you’re right. A lot of times when students start college, their freshman year, it’s not something the grades. And that’s something that they’re particularly proud about. Right. And, but they get better.


Right. Sophomore year, it goes up junior year, goes up, maybe senior year they’re on the Dean. So great trend is really important too. You don’t want a downward trend. That’s that’s bad news. There are ways to deal with it, but I think that’s, you know, let’s, let’s keep this optimistic and on an upward note and a test optional world, or you don’t have the test to say, I really, I really can do this work.


Even if my undergrad grades are not so good. Then the undergrad grades take on greater importance. And if you didn’t do so well, swore if there’s no upward trend, then I think it’s really important that the applicant take quant classes before applying and get A’s in them. So let’s go back to testing for a second.


So both for undergraduate and graduate admissions, COVID created some dicey times for us. That’s for sure. Right. And who knows what’s next? Talk through testing entrance exam testing for the MBA programs, many students that are in or parents, even who might be listening, who have kids in high school might only be focused on act and sat and might be thinking, oh, we’ve got to pay.


But forgetting that they may need to be taking test again in the future. Can you talk about the timing of the testing and which tests are required for MBA programs? Most MBA programs at this point in the United States. Require the GMAT or the GRE. Some also accept a test called the executive assessment, which has been growing in popularity, but it’s still fairly minor factor in that, on the scene.


Some programs like MIT Sloan have waived the test entirely more programs. Are allowing applicants to apply for a test waiver and buy programs. Now I’m talking more about the top 20 outside the top 20 test optionality test waivers are more common. I basically mentioned three programs, right? Test waivers are more common.


Test waivers means that you, in one way or another, you show the school that you’re going to perform and you give the school confidence that you’re going to perform even without the test. The schools that are requiring both the test score and transcript and whatever else they require. They’re basically saying, okay, the grade showed us how you did as an undergrad, whatever your major, but we want to see whether you can take a test that correlates with success in a graduate management program.


And this is the common denominator among all student. That is the value of the test to the admissions offices, which a transcript can’t really provide because obviously even different schools have different grading scales and even different teachers have different grading scales at the same school for the same course.


So you don’t have that uniformity, but that, that would be the answer to what does the test give in addition to two grades when those other are required at the moment, it’s pretty much the GRE or the GMAT with EA gaining a certain amount of marks. Let’s talk about timing, not all students go, or maybe you would advise that they don’t go straight from undergraduate school and straight into an MBA program.


I know. Very common. We had a previous episode where we were talking with an advisor for a medical school and she said, oh, you know, highly recommended taking what she called a glide year. So she calls it a glide or a gap year, but yeah, yeah, yeah. Growth year for sure. So what trends do you see in relation to MBA programs and what are your recommendations as you’re working with students?


Because you are advising students who are going through this process, right? The sweet spot for MBA programs is three to eight years. Actually, I should say that the typical range is three to eight years of full-time work experience after you leave. Okay. So very, very few go straight from college to MBA program.


They’re probably mostly people who were in the military or the some unusual circumstance for most people. It’s what I said. The sweet spot is typically four to five. Out of college in terms of the testing, the test is good for five years, you should check the individual school to see whether it’s good from, you know, they have, you send me your application or the date of matriculation.


And then most of the schools will say exactly what dates that they’re counting, but it’s roughly five years. And that’s where both the GMAT and the GRE. And I think it’s the EA, but I’m not positive on that one. So what I would. Is, let’s say you’re in college and you graduate and you get your job. And you’re working for three years.


And at the end of three years, you’ve said, you know, I want to get an MBA. Okay. You, you have a goal. Requires an MBA professional goal. It’s not just, I think I want to go back to school. I mean, there has to be a reason for it. So you, you have that goal, you start researching schools and you realize you need to take the GMAT or the GRE, or at least one of the schools you’re interested in is requiring it.


Whatever it might be. What I would do is if you let’s say now it’s March, 2022, and let’s say you want to start business school in September, 2020. Okay, so you have plenty of time actually. You don’t have plenty of time, but you can, you can still do it. You can start preparing for the. I would say, get a course.


Ideally you want to take the test once you have to take it twice. That’s okay. It’s no problem. The schools are fine with it, but there you go. Are they submitting all test scores? They can cancel for that for the GMAT they can cancel. And I think Jerry has something called school. The score, cancel it with the GMAT.


You can cancel scores. You’re not happy with, and you have a certain amount of time, which to cancel them for a fee, you can reinstate them for a fee and then GRE has score select. So if you want to start school and fall 2023, you have to apply in late summer or fall or early winter. 2020 to early 2023. So you have time now to take the GRE to start researching schools, to clarify your career goal, because that’s very important when applying to MBA programs to perhaps visit schools and some of them are opening.


Starting. So hopefully it’ll continue and you, you can get it done in time for fall to apply this upcoming fall. If you want to apply for a year later. In other words to matriculate in 2024, you have lots of time. You can take the GRE or GMAT next year, and then start that whole research process. Again, we actually do have a timeline.


I can send that to you if you’re interested after, after. Okay. I would love that you mentioned really being able to express. Your career goals as part of that application process. And so having really wrapped your mind around where you’re headed in the future, so that matters, but does the work history between undergrad and MBA that three to eight or four to five years?


What role does that play in there? How important is. Great question. It’s a real important role. Okay. That does well. That’s one of the reasons the school’s required because it’s important to them. They want, and it’s important to future employers. Also, they want to see increasing responsibility advancement on the job.


This is not, it’s not just about title, but it is about increasing responsibility, both in terms of people manage perhaps. Managed impact on the job. What did you achieve? What have you accomplished in those three to eight years of four or five years? What difference have you made? That’s what schools are going to be looking for in terms of the work experience and what leadership roles have you assumed?


That’s the other element? So I’m hearing leadership. Early and often it’s got it high school forward, even if it’s, it makes me think of, uh, one of my high school students I worked with previously, who was applying to the service academies and some highly selective schools. He had worked at the local here in Cincinnati.


We have something called skyline chili. It’s literally Chile on top of spaghetti. It’s a local favorite. He was like, poo-pooing that experience. But he had gone from dishwasher all the way up to like closing and opening duties and, you know, counting the cash and training other people I’m like that leadership counts to your point.


It doesn’t as long as you’re leaving, but early and often yes. On that. I once met with a Harvard business school professor. I add some social connections and I arranged a meeting with him. They had a nice conversation in the course of the conversation. He asked me, what do you see as the common thread among your clients who have been accepted to Harvard business school?


And I thought for a minute, and I said leadership and. And the conversation continued and then it came to a close and just as I was leaving, I said to him, you know, I have, I have a question for you. I said, you asked me, what do I see as the common thread among our clients that have been admitted to Harvard business school?


What do you see as a common thread among the students you have in your classroom? And he smiled and he said, well, I smiled when you said that, because that’s exactly what I see. Fantastic advice. One last question. ROI on an MBA. You know, college is expensive. All education is expensive. It’s a true investment.


So when somebody thinks about the ROI on an MBA or. Well, if I know for sure I want to do business, should I study business and undergrad, or should I go ahead and pursue a different major that I also have passion around and I can do the MBA later. Let’s talk cost. You know, what do you see? What are some considerations that you would advise families with 16 year olds on up to be thinking about in terms of.


Well in general, I don’t think 16 year olds have to plan out their whole life. I think they should in college be thinking about the job market. Um, and planning for that. And then if, when it comes time to decide on the, on the MBA, they should look at the ROI of the, of the MBA. And that’s gonna depend on what they’re making at the time with their earning, because by then they will be out in the workplace and the opportunity cost of the MBA.


Can be significant depending upon how much money they’re making at that point in time and what they want to do with the degree afterwards, which if you recall, I was emphasizing that a couple of minutes ago. Yeah. The research shows and wall street journal has done a series of articles looking at ROI and debt for different masters degree at the MBA.


More than almost, I think more according to them than, than any MBA degree than any master’s would be rather has positive ROI. For like, I think they said 98% of the people who pursue it so far higher than any other master’s program. So the MBA is pretty high, except that also has a tool where you don’t have to just look at the average for all or anything like that.


Oh, and the other thing is JMac surveys, alumni constantly and overwhelmingly, they report positive ROI and a high level of satisfaction with their MBAs. Except it has a tool where the individual can enter there and, you know, either anticipated salary, if you’re a high school student opportunity costs, et cetera, and calculate what’s ROI of an MBA would be and realize most people say that they earned back the cost of the MBA in two to three years and any increased salary after that is gravy.


Now the URL for that tool is accepted.com/mba. Slash ROI dash calculator. And I can send that to you and fantastic. Yeah, we’ll definitely put it in the show notes. I know you also have an MBA for your guide that we’ll make available to everybody as well. And these are fantastic tools that accepted has for families.


So thank you, Linda. Thanks for today. My. Such a wealth of information. We’ll definitely have to have you back. I know you, this is your area of expertise, but accepted can help families with high school students on up through various graduate school program. So we’ll be sure that we get the URL and how people can gauge with you.


So thanks for. Thank you. Well, Linda’s passion is MBA admission. Our conversation left me really reflecting on the theme of leadership for students of all ages. My own experience as an undergraduate independent college consultant for over two decades, aligns with Linda’s leadership. Makes a difference in both self-development and forgetting.


From my weekly actual challenge, I suggest you and your student make it list of any current leadership opportunities in which they are involved as well as brainstorm where there is room to grow and pursue more leadership. Remember Linda’s advice, don’t overthink this and make it more complicated than it needs to be.


Leadership comes in many shapes and sizes. Okay, you’ve got your task. So go make it a great week. If today’s episode was helpful to you, please share with a friend who needs us to sharing, following the podcast rating and reviewing helps us resource more students to launch into a successful. Thank you for listening to the college and career clarity podcast, where I help your family move from overwhelmed and confused to motivated, clear and confident about your teens future .