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2009年7月份,我给一个老朋友(Simon FT-MBA,2010春季班)为申请MBA而写的Essay提了几点比较关键的修改建议。后来,她成功拿到Simon的Offer。再后来,她建议我做留学DIY咨询方面的工作,并向我介绍了我的第一个客户。最终,我的第一个客户也成功拿到几个TOP16商学院的面试并顺利拿到Duke Fuqua商学院MBA的录取。 本人毕业于上海复旦大学管理学院国际企业管理系,属于商科科班出身并且做过管理工作、有领导经验的人士。

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留学参考:Classic Mistakes By Non-U.S. Applicants  

2016-12-04 02:53:55|  分类: DIY留学综合信息 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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留学参考:Classic Mistakes By Non-U.S. Applicants

 


BY: DEBORAH KNOX ON FEBRUARY 12, 2016

Deborah Knox is founder and CEO of Insight Admissions. While she works extensively with traditional MBA applicants, she loves the challenge of assisting qualified nontraditional candidates. Devoted to the study of leadership excellence, Deborah has also served as a researcher and editor on numerous book projects for best-selling management author Jim Collins.

 

 

I’ve had the pleasure of working with numerous international MBA applicants over the past 11+ years, and they’ve helped me get a better understanding of what’s happening across the globe, picking up where theEconomist and my travels have left off. In the process, I’ve noticed that while individual applicants and their respective countries’ cultures vary, there are some common challenges they face when applying to U.S. business schools. These MBA programs are looking for attributes that are valued in American business culture that may not be (or may even be frowned upon) in other cultures. I’d like to elaborate on those below, plus provide a few other tips that may be useful to foreign-born applicants. (Please note that I’m not suggesting one culture is better than another; my job is to point out what American admissions’ committees and schools tend to value, and help my clients highlight those qualities where they exist.)

IT’S ALL ABOUT ME

One of the first things that started to capture my attention when working with international applicants was how frequently they used “we” and how little (if ever) they used “I” when talking about their accomplishments. Here’s a typical example:

“We threw a Sudanese Cultural Fair, during which we offered dance performances, storytelling, traditional Sudanese cuisine and native crafts. We drew one thousand students and it was quite a success.”

I was interviewing Asma* about her background, looking for evidence of initiative and leadership. In this example and in my other attempts to find out how she personally contributed to extracurricular activities and work, I kept running into this “we.” So I really had to work with her to tease out what parts she did on her own. “Oh, I went and got the sponsors, who contributed $3,000; I negotiated to save 25% on the venue rental; and I advertised the event on Facebook, getting 250 people saying they would attend and another 200 saying maybe.” Ah, now we had something with which to work!

Some international clients are very uncomfortable using “I” vs. “we.” In many cases, they come from a culture in which the collective and relationships are more valued over standing out as an individual, and language patterns can reflect that. So I’ll tell them that even though it may make them uncomfortable to sound that egoic, let’s just try on this “I” thing for the purposes of the application, just humor me and the admissions committee.

Speaking of language patterns, I’ve noticed some international applicants (though this is true for some American applicants as well) are passive-voice power users, which may reflect the structure of their native tongue. That means I can’t find an obvious actor (subject of the sentence) or strong verb anywhere! For example, Bashir originally wrote,

“The pipeline project was overseen by me.”

Notice “the pipeline” is the subject, but it isn’t a doer here. Using the active voice (and enhancing the sentence a bit), I’ve rewritten it as follows.

“Using my project-management, analytical, and communication skills, I oversaw the pipeline project.”  

Notice how this brings Bashir into the picture as a vigorous, competent player! So when writing for an American business audience, keep an eye out for sentence constructions lacking an actor as the subject of the sentence who is enacting a strong verb.

BUT I’M ALSO A TEAM PLAYER

I’ve just gone on about “I,” “I,” “I,” which you need to use to demonstrate you can initiate and take action on your own. At the same time, U.S. MBA programs are looking for students who are also good team players. The educational systems in some countries do not support team-based learning and activities; rather, they emphasize rote learning and individual achievement measured via test scores. I’ve encountered some applicants who have top-notch scores on their nation’s qualifying exams but who haven’t participated in group activities such as extracurriculars or volunteer work. In such cases, I try to find some example from their work experience or see if they’ve played a team sport so we can highlight their team skills. If they have time before applying, I suggest getting involved in a volunteer activity. Some clients, for instance those from Saudi Arabia, live in a culture where volunteering isn’t prevalent (it may be that the government provides so much of a safety net that there’s less need for NGOs, but I’m not sure). Even then, with some diligent digging around, we’ve been able to find ways to have them volunteer and get the chance to operate in a team context. (In Saudi Arabia, for example, I’ve discovered a women’s professional-development and networking group called CellA+.)

Along these lines, I’d like to talk a bit about the U.S. business school emphasis on being well rounded. We Americans seem to like our business students and future leaders to be multifaceted, social, and even fun. I don’t think any admissions-committee member would say this (out loud, anyway), but American business culture tends to favor extroverts over introverts. If you’ve been nose to the grindstone, focusing on test scores, you probably haven’t had time to develop any other aspects of yourself. I recently asked an Asian client working in finance what he did for fun, and he said he no longer had that word in his vocabulary.

I think many applicants, foreign born or not, can relate to this, but taking the time to do things you love outside work can be rejuvenating and enriching, and writing about them in your application can be differentiating. For more on the latter, you can read “The Case for Writing about Your Passions.”

 

LET’S SEE A LITTLE EXCITEMENT HERE!

This leads me to speak about a hallowed attribute U.S. MBA programs seek: PASSION! Let’s face it, American business schools want excited, energized people who are primed to do big things in the world. For some international clients, I’ve found that being passionate about what they’ve been doing or are going to do isn’t a given, and quite often, it’s a luxury. This is particularly true amongst those coming from developing economies. In many of these cases, my clients have been first- or second-generation university students. Their families have uniformly underscored the importance of education in getting ahead, and they’ve often been directed into “practical” careers like engineering, frequently at a very early age. They rarely have the chance to test out less conventional career options via experimenting with internships. So when working with some of these clients, I find they’re less than enthusiastic or even wooden when talking about what they want to do post-MBA. (Believe me, this happens with some American clients, too!)

What I do in these cases is see if I can connect any dots in their life story that suggest there might be a more rewarding path for them, and if so, we explore it. If not, I try to find something that gets them excited about their proposed goal and bring that forth in the application. So perhaps like Sun, a client originally from China, you can find a way to get more excited about your goal, in her case continuing in private equity. Combining the personal story of her father—who ran a small business and couldn’t get access to capital to grow it—and research on the market and societal trends in China, she proposed doing private equity for small- and medium-sized businesses in China post-MBA. She got very excited about this, and it was apparent in her essays and interviews. So allow yourself to think about what makes you come alive and energizes you, and let that come through in some form in your stated goals.

SPEAK UP

I want to circle back for a moment to the point I made above about extroverts. While you don’t need to be the life of the party, these schools are looking for students who are comfortable speaking up, even countering authority figures’ opinions, and are able to persuade others. If you choose to go to HBS or want to excel in any case-oriented courses at other schools, these skills are critical. I’ve come to realize that this isn’t acceptable behavior in some cultures, especially for women. With that in mind, some of the strongest client stories have been regarding learning to speak up in front of supervisors and clients, even if what they shared might have been against the grain. This has been easiest for my international clients who have been working for American companies where they’ve been encouraged to do so, and such anecdotes have made for solid responses to the recommender prompt “Tell us about a time when you gave the applicant constructive criticism and how s/he responded.” If you’re applying to a case-heavy program, you’ll want to find a way to convey that you’re comfortable speaking up or at the very least that you’ve been taking measures to improve in this area. With locations worldwide, Toastmasters is one good avenue to explore for improving your speaking ability.

LEVERAGE YOUR BACKGROUND

Many of my clients realize that hailing from outside the U.S. is advantageous, particularly if they’re applying from an underrepresented country or region. If you’re from India or China, you’re in a bit of a bind, but if you’re from somewhere like Romania, one of the –stans (I’ve been contacted by a few potential candidates from Kazakhstan), or Niger, you’re in luck! What surprises me is that most international clients simply check off the box for their nationality and/or fill in their address, and that’s the extent to which they showcase their geographical uniqueness. People—in most cases, your nationality is a big differentiator! Don’t miss the opportunity to use it! And be specific.

For example, some schools will ask you about your background or what matters most to you, and these are great opportunities to give some highly textured details about the country in which you grew up. Are there cultural facets or family customs that strongly influenced you that are particularly colorful? Or has history played a hand in your life story? When writing his “what matters most” essay for Stanford, Ajith opened with sitting on the front porch with his grandfather in Sri Lanka.

“ka, kha, ga, ňga”, recited my grandfather patiently, a content look on his face, as I slowly repeated back the Sinhalese letters.

In his culture, passing the alphabet on to a new generation was a venerated tradition. Ajith used this story as a point of departure for talking about valuing self-development and lifelong learning.

Many of my international clients have been just one or two generations from living in poverty, and providing details of their families’ journey can be quite striking, particularly if the clients now embody guiding values as a result. Mei traced her lineage back to her grandmother, once an illiterate, indentured servant who upon gaining her freedom started a farm and raised a family. Her mother, seeking a better future, fled the village to get an education in the city despite objections from family and society. My client seized opportunity by attending and exceling at a university in the U.S., then succeeding in the male-dominated world of investment banking. After providing this backdrop in her essays, she outlined her efforts to open doors for the marginalized. Sharing specifics about her family and cultural heritage, Mei presented herself as part of a lineage of strong, self-confident women willing to take risks to improve their lot and the lots of others.

You can also leverage your background by letting the admissions committee know how knowledgeable you are about doing business in your country, current market conditions, trends, etc. After all, this is the type of stuff they want you sharing in the classroom! One of the most obvious places to do this is through your goals essay if you plan to go back to your country of origin after school.

If you have the connections and the school isn’t already offering a trip or learning trek to your country or region, you might propose organizing one for them. It pays to come up with a theme, say high-tech manufacturing in Tiger Cubs Malaysia and Thailand.

You could also write about creating an innovative event for the school’s relevant national or regional club, e.g., the China, India, or MENA (Middle East and North Africa) Club. I always urge my clients to contact leaders of clubs they might want to join and run some ideas for events or activities they have in mind by them to see if they’ve already been done or if they’d be desirable and feasible. You could also propose creating a club for fellow students from your country or region if one doesn’t exist. Remember, the U.S. schools prefer admitting people who are going to get involved outside the classroom and make things happen!

Finally, if you’re from an underrepresented country, have a strong profile, and feel an urgent need to attend school as soon as possible even though it’s late in the admissions cycle, consider applying in Round 3 (or the last round offered if there are more than three rounds). As you may have heard, by this time, the admissions-committee members have selected the vast majority of the class. At this point, like alchemists, they’re tweaking the class mix to get just the right combination—ooh perfect, a stellar candidate from Botswana! Or Laos! Or Chile! (Note that many schools award financial aid only in earlier rounds, and in some cases applying that late might not be viable in terms of having time to get a student visa before classes start in August or September.)

GETTING PERSONAL

You may have seen this throughout what I’ve written above, but to make it plain, U.S. business schools really want to know who you are personally. So while performance (test scores, work experience, and recommendations) matters, who you are—your values, your quirks, your perspectives, your life details—also matters. Admissions-committee members are taking a whole-person look at you, as an individual and as part of an entire class. This may not be how you were evaluated when you applied to university if you attended it in your home country, and it may even feel a bit uncomfortable to show that much of yourself. That said, I’ve found most of my international clients have ultimately been thrilled to have had a chance to share more of who they are and they’ve appreciated knowing that the admissions-committee members care.

*I’ve changed all of my clients’ names and some of their details to protect their anonymity.

 

 

以上内容摘自:

http://poetsandquants.com/2016/02/12/51359/ 

 

 

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