Researching MBA Programs During COVID-19

Laveta Brigham

When deciding which MBA program to attend, many prospective students want to visit campuses to get a feel for the culture and what their schools have to offer. But with many campuses closed and courses shifting online, how should applicants research their ideal MBA program? Caroline Diarte Edwards of Fortuna […]

When deciding which MBA program to attend, many prospective students want to visit campuses to get a feel for the culture and what their schools have to offer.

But with many campuses closed and courses shifting online, how should applicants research their ideal MBA program?

Caroline Diarte Edwards of Fortuna Admissions recently offered a few tips on how applicants should research MBA programs during this time.


Experts suggest applicants be the first to take some time to do substantial self-reflection before jumping into research.

“Pause to get introspective about your ambitions, strengths, passions, and personal values,” Diarte Edwards writes. “The time you invest in introspection will directly influence your ability to be discerning throughout the research process.”


Diarte Edwards says applicants should follow the hierarchy of good information when researching MBA programs.

“While you’ll want to digest each school’s website, it’s valuable to start with a look at its MBA Student Profile and Employment Report,” she writes. “Both reflect data about current and graduating students, which gives you a sense of where students are coming from and where they’re headed after graduation.”

Additionally, it can be helpful to check out school-hosted blogs to get timely and accurate updates of what’s going on at b-schools.

“In addition to keeping applicants apprised of news, changes, and opportunities, a blog’s tone and content are revealing about its personality and priorities,” Diarte Edwards writes. “Same for its social media channels, where you can follow the latest and often get the swiftest response to your queries.”


Since in-person networking will be difficult to do, Diarte Edwards suggests that applicants double down on digital networking efforts.

“Sleuth out students and alumni who share similar interests and initiate frank conversations that help you understand a school’s identity beyond its polished brand,” she writes. “By having those in-depth conversations, you’ll build up an impression over time about whether a program is the right place for you.”

Sources: Fortuna Admissions, Poets & Quants

Cornell University. Cornell photo

The SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell ranked in the top 20 b-schools for P&Q’s annual rankings.

Getting into the MBA program is no easy feat as the admissions team seeks out top-notch applicants.

One of the most crucial aspects of the Johnson application is the essay component. This requires applicants to complete a Goals Statement as well as two essays: the Impact Essay and the Back of Your Resume Essay.

The experts at Stratus Admissions recently offered a few tips on how to best write the Cornell Johnson essays and what the admissions team is looking for.


The Goals Statement is a short-answer section in which applicants share their short- and long-term goals.

If applicants secure an interview, they are expected to elaborate on their Goals Statement further and connect their past experiences with their future aspirations.

The Impact Essay essentially asks applicants to explain how they intend to make an impact during their time at Johnson. This essay, according to Johnson’s website, is designed to explore the intersection of engagement and community culture.

The Back of Your Resume Essay is an opportunity for applicants to present themselves as an individual. Essentially, the name is exactly what it is: space for applicants to convey their personality and individualism outside of their resume’s accomplishments and numbers.


Johnson admissions team is interested in understanding what kind of impact an applicant will leave on the Johnson community.

Experts say utilizing the Impact Essay to convey how you’ll do this is key.

“To write a successful ‘Impact Essay,’ you have to do your research; reach out to a few club officers of professional or shared interest groups at Cornell that are relevant to your background or goals,” according to Stratus. “Identify ways you can get involved and feel free to name drop your contacts in the essay. Touch base with alumni. Determine the volunteering or mentorship opportunities of which you will take advantage. Participate in virtual or in-person information sessions.”


Another important note is to convey how you stay balanced in your accomplishments as well as who you are outside the classroom.

Having balance, experts say, can help illustrate your interests and personality beyond your accolades and goals.

“Cornell is known as a culture that works, learns, and plays hard,” according to Stratus. “Does this represent your life? If it does, share the details with Johnson. Investment banker and whiskey connoisseur, that’s what we are talking about. Being the social catalyst for your group counts at Cornell. After all, Ithaca winters are cold and dark.”

Sources: Stratus Admissions Counseling, Poets & Quants, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business

When Harvard announced a more sympathetic approach to deferrals for international students hard-pressed by the global pandemic, other schools took notice. Harvard Gazette photo

The COVID-19 pandemic has swept its way through the nation as many businesses struggle to stay afloat.

Small businesses, in particular, are hurting. In a PNAS survey of more than 5,800 small businesses, 43% of businesses reported being temporarily closed – nearly all in response to COVID-19.

But what exactly can b-schools do to support local businesses during this time?

Matt Symonds, co-founder of Fortuna Admissions and a contributor at Forbes, recently looked at how b-schools are responding during the pandemic and offering support to local businesses.


Across the world, a number of b-schools are partnering with local businesses, bringing in MBAs to help support business goals.

At Wharton, students are working hand-in-hand with the Philadelphia Zoo to help expand on the zoo’s virtual engagement and need to reprioritize goals in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like many businesses, the Zoo was forced to suddenly close its doors. Wharton MBAs brainstormed digital strategies—from social media content planning to fund-raising ideas— that would help the Zoo reach its consumer base virtually.

“The students delivered a very compelling and thoughtful plan for expansion but their innovative thinking didn’t just stop there,” Kristen Waldron, director of strategic initiatives at Philadelphia Zoo, says in a blog post on Wharton Stories. “With the Zoo temporarily closed, the Fellows turned their creativity toward brainstorming additional ideas to support our online engagement.”


At MIP Politecnico di Milano, the ‘Keep ON Learning’ initiative was launched to allow students, alumni, professors, and companies to tap into and contribute advice, articles and live webinars, and in-depth analyses through digital platforms.

“The unusual situation in which we find ourselves is forcing us to rethink our daily habits and way of working, in some cases to totally reinvent them, with all the difficulties associated with this,” Federico Frattini, Dean of MIP Politecnico di Milano, says in a statement. “I believe that the best answer that each of us can give in this moment, the most valuable contribution to the common cause, is to continue to carry out our projects. And it’s what we are doing at MIP. We work each day to allow students, professors, staff, companies, alumni, and all our other partners, to continue to rely on us.”


The NEOMA Business School in France is helping support local businesses through its ‘Start-up Lab,’ offering a training course around topics such as finance and strategy with free webinars and tailored coaching.

“The unprecedented transition period that companies are currently going through requires them to prepare their employees for the changes they are facing and will continue to face in the months to come,” Stéphane Dubreuille, the Director of Executive Education at NEOMA Business School, tells Forbes. “Naturally, for this, our Executive Education programs have been developed to respond as much as possible to these new business needs.”

Sources: Forbes, PNAS, The Wharton School, Politecnico Milano, NEOMA Business School

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