“Is a Postbaccalaureate Medical Program Right for You?” (Ibrahim Busnaina, “U.S. News & World Report”)

Dr. Busnaina gives a useful overview of the advantages and disadvantages of attending a postbac medical program. If you are considering pursuing a postbac, look at each school’s required application essays as early as possible. Many require you to list your volunteer and work experience in a health field, so make time to shadow a variety of health professionals, volunteer in a medical setting and be involved in at least one community service organization related to your career goals. Other common essay questions involve describing your reasons for wanting to pursue a career in the health professions and explaining any weak spots on your academic transcript.

To learn more, visit: http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/medical-school-admissions-doctor/2011/12/19/is-a-postbaccalaureate-medical-program-right-for-you?

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“3 Ways to Stand Out in a Competitive B-School Applicant Pool” (Stacy Blackman, “US News & World Report’)

In “3 Ways to Stand Out in a Competitive B-School Applicant Pool,” Stacy Blackman gives several excellent pointers for writing successful application essays for top business schools. Most of the applicants whose essays I revise have succumbed to the fatal flaw of trying too hard to impress the admissions officer. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. Ms. Blackman suggests making a “brag sheet” in which you brainstorm your accomplishments and strengths. The easiest way to do this is to talk with a trusted friend about what you have accomplished and what you dream of doing after earning your MBA. Record this conversation so you can let your ideas flow freely. As you write your essays, make sure that each one conveys your core values. The reader should know what matters to you and why. While other applicants may share your background, goals and strengths, try to forget about them for now and write essays that share your authentic self.

To read Ms. Blackman’s article, visit: http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/MBA-admissions-strictly-business/2013/03/01/3-ways-to-stand-out-in-a-competitive-b-school-applicant-pool#comments

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“How Medical School Applications Are Evaluated” (Ibrahim Busnaina, “U.S. News & World Report”)

In “How Medical School Applications Are Evaluated,” Dr. Busnaina provides helpful information on how medical schools review primary and secondary applications. He suggests being proactive if you are deferred by a school that you love. I definitely recommend calling the school to express your strong desire to attend and sending a formal letter that explains how your background and career goals align with the school’s academic and clinical offerings. For secondary applications, applicants tend to do a fair job of describing their background and career goals but often forget to give specific reasons for their desire to attend the school. Do your research on the school’s website and reach out to current students and faculty members who share your academic and clinical interests.

To read Dr. Busnaina’s article, visit http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/medical-school-admissions-doctor/2011/10/31/how-medical-school-applications-are-evaluated.

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“Top 3 Reasons Medical School Applications Are Rejected” (Ibrahim Busnaina, “US News & World Report”)

In “Top 3 Reasons Medical School Applications are Rejected,” Ibrahim Busnaina provides advice on how to overcome the three largest weaknesses of many applications: low grades, poor extracurricular involvement and lack of safety schools. When explaining low grades, it is important to be honest about the reasons for your poor performance and frank about how you turned it around. The admissions reader wants to know that you have learned from your mistakes and developed the skills to succeed in medical school. In addition, you can compensate for a lack of extracurricular leadership experience by drawing a strong connection between your volunteer, shadowing or research activities and your specific career goals. Did your summer internship in a genetics lab make you realize how much you enjoy being immersed in concentrated bench work or did it make you eager to spend more time interacting with patients? Either way, you have the opportunity to demonstrate a clear career goal, which is what the admissions reader wants. Lastly, apply to at least one safety school to which your chances of being admitted are high. While you can still shoot for the stars, you want to give yourself the choice between attending a safety school and deferring for a year or two in order to strengthen your application.

To read Dr. Busnaina’s article, visit http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/medical-school-admissions-doctor/2012/02/06/top-3-reasons-medical-school-applications-are-rejected?msg=1

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“How to Choose a U.S. Graduate School” (Jia Guo, “US News & World Report”)

In “How to Choose a U.S. Graduate School,” Jia Guo makes several insightful suggestions for international applicants to consider. Many business schools publish statistics on their websites on the job functions and industries chosen by students for their summer internship and post-graduation positions. Look for the list of companies that recruit at the school. Find out what percentage of graduates end up in the city or part of the country where you want to live. Look into the resources that the school offers to support international students. Most importantly, reach out to current students and alumni from your country who share your background or whose careers inspire you. You can learn much more from a frank and honest discussion with someone who has been in your shoes than you can from reading the promotional material that fills a school’s website.

For more information, visit: http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/international-student-counsel/2013/04/18/how-to-choose-a-us-graduate-school

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“4 Ways to Make Your Scholarship Essay Stand Out” (Matt Konrad, “US News & World Report”)

Matt Konrad presents several helpful suggestions for making your scholarship essays stand out from those of other qualified applicants. It is an excellent idea to reach out to former scholarship winners and get their advice on how to approach the application process. Ask them about their successful scholarship application essays and run your own ideas by them as well. Although making an outline will prevent you from rambling or sounding too desperate, it is just as important to sound enthusiastic about what you want to do and clear about how this scholarship will help you achieve your goals. Read the mission statement of the granting organization and don’t be afraid to mention the parts of it that truly appeal to you. I would strongly advise having your essay revised by a professional editor and a trusted friend.

To view the original article, visit http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/the-scholarship-coach/2013/01/31/4-ways-to-make-your-scholarship-essay-stand-out#comments

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“3 Ways for MBA Applicants to Overcome Weaknesses” (Stacy Blackman, “US News & World Report”)

In “3 Ways for MBA Applicants to Overcome Weaknesses,” Stacy Blackman offers some excellent ideas for addressing weak areas on your business school applications. For those with a weak quantitative background, follow her advice to complete a quantitative course at a community college or with a respected online provider or online MBA program. For applicants without meaningful extracurricular involvements, don’t confuse quantity with quality as most schools won’t ask you to specify your time commitment. Try to get involved with an organization whose mission is aligned with your long-term goals and your reasons for pursuing an MBA. If you are trying to switch from finance to consulting, reach out to a local non-profit or startup and offer to provide pro-bono consulting services. Lastly, many applicants think too narrowly about what leadership involves. You don’t need to have twenty employees reporting directly to you to be a leader. Think of one time you convinced a colleague, supervisor or client to accept an innovative approach or take a completely new direction. It only takes one follower to make a leader!

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“The Lowdown on the Online MBA” (Stacy Blackman, “U.S. News & World Report”)

In “The Lowdown on the Online M.B.A.,” Stacy Blackman makes several excellent points to consider when applying to online MBA programs. I would add that a strong applicant will need to convince the admissions officer that he or she wants to enroll in this particular program as opposed to any other comparable online MBA program. Do you know which companies recruit MBA students from the program? What career development resources would you use? Which unique electives would you take? It is crucial to mention that you have spoken with at least one student and one professor from the program and discuss what you learned from these interactions that made you want to apply. As yield (the percentage of admitted students who choose to enroll) affects many ranking systems, online MBA admissions readers want to be assured that if they offer you a place in their class, you will accept it.

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“How to Write a Cover Letter that Gets Read” (Jason Cohen, WorkAwesome.com)

In “How to Write a Cover Letter that Gets Read,” Jason Cohen provides an excellent and thoughtful tutorial for job applicants. As to his recommendation to use “personal, not formal” language, I would counter that you can be both polished and personable. If you follow certain conventions to keep your language polished (no contractions, no casual and overused adjectives like “great” or “amazing,” full titles instead of acronyms, etc.), then your tone can be more personable and open. Of the hundreds of cover letters I’ve revised, I would say that only a small fraction have erred on the side of being too formal; most are much too casual, which can come across as overconfident or uninformed. If you are a college student applying for an internship, it is also crucial to mention that you hope to prove yourself worthy of a full-time job offer after graduation, as the company is hoping that the time and cost of training interns will be worth it to them in the long term as well. 

For Jason Cohen’s advice, visit: http://workawesome.com/your-job/how-to-write-a-cover-letter-that-gets-read/

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“How to Write a Law School Personal Statement” (Ann Levine, U.S. News and World Report)

In her article, “How to Write a Law School Personal Statement,” Ann Levine gives many excellent tips, particularly her idea to pursue insight over drama. However, I do believe that a powerful personal story, if it truly led you to pursue a legal career, can be an effective way to begin your personal statement. The major weakness I see in the law school personal statements that I edit is the lack of a specific answer to the question, “Why law?” Many applicants talk about their desire for intellectual challenge, the power to help others and ability to support their family financially, but these goals can be achieved by politicians, social workers, doctors, teachers, and so many other professions. I’m much more impressed and convinced if you get to the heart of how you will achieve your goals in a legal setting: why is the law right for you and how are you suited to a career in law? I also disagree with the advice to avoid stating a specialization: the legal field is simply too broad and I won’t believe that you have really thought deeply about your future unless you name a possible path or two. Telling me that you want to become a lawyer in order to protect battered children is excellent, but I want to know how you will accomplish this goal: as an attorney, a judge or a divorce mediator? Dare to be specific and you will impress the reader.

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