100 episodes

Admissions Straight Talk is a weekly discussion of what's new, thought-provoking, and useful in the world of graduate admissions. Linda Abraham, leading admissions consultant and author, covers the application process for MBA, law school, medical school, and other graduate programs.

Admissions Straight Tal‪k‬ Linda Abraham

    • Courses

Admissions Straight Talk is a weekly discussion of what's new, thought-provoking, and useful in the world of graduate admissions. Linda Abraham, leading admissions consultant and author, covers the application process for MBA, law school, medical school, and other graduate programs.

    Life as a Dental Student at UCLA

    Life as a Dental Student at UCLA

    Ellisa's non-traditional path to dentistry [Show summary]

    Ellisa Soberon, a dental student at UCLA with a nontraditional path to dentistry, shares her insights on the dental school admissions process and life at UCLA.

    What makes UCLA School of Dentistry unique... and the perfect fit for this dental student! [Show notes]

    So, you want to go to dental school? Let's hear from a UCLA dental student how she got in and how she likes it.

    Our guest today, Ellisa Soberon, is a first-year dental student at UCLA Dental School. In 2014, Ellisa earned her bachelor's from UCLA in environmental science with a minor in geography and environmental studies. She worked mostly in business between completing her undergraduate education and starting dental school. 

    Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, and where you grew up? [1:48]

    I grew up in a small town in Northern California called Alamo, about 40 minutes away from San Francisco. I grew up as an only child to two Asian-American immigrants, one from South Korea, my mom, and my dad, who came from the Philippines. I grew up as the only Asian-American in a predominantly white neighborhood. It was a great experience, honestly. I worked really hard in high school and was always an inquisitive person, and always had a love for the sciences. That carried over when I went to UCLA.

    It was interesting growing up with two unique cultures that are very different. I didn't really know many other people who had that unique blend of different cultures growing up. Our Thanksgiving dinners were always really interesting. We always had Korean dishes, Filipino dishes, and American, and I feel like I was really lucky to have all three growing up.

    As an undergrad, you majored in environmental science and then worked in business. How did you move from those pursuits to dentistry? They seem pretty far apart. [4:19]

    I've always had a love for sciences. I really struggled in undergrad figuring out what I wanted to major in. I was undeclared for two years, and finally my counselor looked at me and said, "Hey you're approaching your junior year and you need to declare a major." My roommate was actually an environmental science major. I had not even given that major a thought. I thought that the classes that she was taking were super interesting, and I still had a love for science. So I thought, you know what, I'm just going to go for environmental science. And I'm glad I did. I honestly learned a lot with that major, and it's incredibly relevant today.

    But in all honesty, I ended up choosing a career in technology and business right after graduation, purely because I needed a career. I needed a job after I graduated. So I stuck with that for about four and a half years before I thought, well, is this something that I really want to do for the rest of my career? I thought about it. I had what I like to call my quarter-life crisis, where I went around asking people, “How did you decide that you wanted to become X, Y, or Z?” And through talking to a lot of different people, I had a very honest conversation with myself and thought, I still want to go back to my roots which is the sciences. I ended up talking to my own dentist,

    • 25 min
    Encore: Application Trends to Watch in 2021, and a Look Back at 2020

    Encore: Application Trends to Watch in 2021, and a Look Back at 2020

    Thanks for joining me for the 411th episode of Admissions Straight Talk.

    I am taking a week off for family time this week. As a result I decided to air an encore of our most popular podcast so far in 2021. It actually is a solo podcast that I did for our 400th episode back in January entitled Application Trends to Watch in 2021, and a Look Back at 2020.

    As one application cycle winds down to a close and the next one starts up, It’s a good time to review some of the points I raised in that episode. I discussed:

    * the application surge at graduate schools in many different fields and how to respond to it.* The increasing availability of test optional programs and test waivers at programs that still require aptitude tests.* Reflections as we move forward, hopefully away from the 2020 pandemic.

    For the MBA wannabes among you, especially if you are concerned about your GPA and test score, I’ve got a masterclass for you! I’m presenting Get Accepted to Top MBA Programs with Low Stats on Wednesday April 7, and you’re invited. You can accept this invitation at accepted.com/411MBA and reserve your seat today! It’s free.

    I assume that many of you are also taking a spring break right now be it for a day or two or a whole week or more. I hope you get to spend it with loved ones. Have a wonderful time and thanks for listening to the encore of Application Trends to Watch in 2021, and a Look Back at 2020.

    For the complete show notes, check out the original blog post.

    Related Links:

    * Get Accepted to Top MBA Programs with Low Stats* Get Accepted to Medical School During an Application Surge* Test-Optional MBA Programs: Everything You Need to Know in 2021* Entering Law School Gets More Challenging as Number of Top Applicants Skyrockets* How to Answer Med School Questions about COVID-19 and Other Major Events of 2020 [Video]* Accepted Admissions Consulting Services* MBA Application Timeline: How to Get Accepted in 2021* The 11th Grade College Planning Timel...

    • 19 min
    What to Know About Applying for a PhD in STEM

    What to Know About Applying for a PhD in STEM

    Are you considering a PhD, either in the United States or abroad? [Show summary]

    Dr. Eva Lantsoght, a professor of civil engineering who has lived and studied all over the globe, shares her insights on applying to PhD programs in STEM fields.

    What to expect when applying to domestic and international PhD programs. [Show notes]

    Would you like to attend a US or UK master’s or PhD program in a STEM field? Are you concerned about the process of both applying to and completing the degree?

    Dr. Eva Lantsoght is a citizen of the world, professor of civil engineering, blogger, and podcast host. Dr. Lantsoght was born in Belgium and earned her bachelor's in civil engineering in Brussels and her master's in structural engineering at Georgia Tech, with a full ride scholarship and a scholarship from the Belgian-American Educational Foundation. She earned her PhD at TU Delft, where she has been a researcher since earning her PhD in 2013 and recently received tenure. Since 2013 she has also been an assistant professor at USFQ in Quito, Ecuador, where she also has tenure.

    Officially, you're a professor of civil engineering with a focus on concrete. However, you've been blogging and podcasting about something not so “concrete”: how to get into and complete PhD programs. How did you get interested in this process? [2:14]

    I started blogging in the first year of my PhD, and at that time, it was just documenting my experience in the laboratory. I wanted a place where I could write about what didn't work in the lab or the processes behind what we do in the lab, like how to keep lab notes, how to organize all that information, things that don't get into a journal publication. So I started to use my blog as a space for documenting those things. As I progressed through my career, I started to write about other topics related to PhD research and PhD education, and then came questions from students thinking about doing a PhD. “What is it like? What should I consider? How do I select a school? How do I select an advisor? What is different about a PhD in the Netherlands versus the United States?” I started to write about all of these topics.

    I think there's a lot of information out there, but I found that, especially in my niche of engineering and civil engineering, there may not be that many professor bloggers or PhD student bloggers out there. I stepped up to the lack that was there and started to address those. From those questions came my interest in looking at what PhD programs are like at different universities and why there are these differences and how that then impacts the career of researchers after going through a more research-oriented or more a coursework-and-research-oriented PhD program.

    What is the typical process for earning a PhD in a STEM field? [4:24]

    It also really depends on the country, but mostly I've worked in the Netherlands. What I see is that typically, if it's full-time, it will be a three- to four-year endeavor. If you do it part-time, of course, it takes at least five years. There will always be a time of reading, familiarizing yourself with the literature, defining what is really going to be your research question, the topic that you really want to address.

    • 38 min
    What’s New at MIT Sloan’s Competitive Full-Time MBA

    What’s New at MIT Sloan’s Competitive Full-Time MBA

    Need-to-know information about MIT Sloan [Show summary]

    Dawna Levenson, Assistant Dean of Admissions at MIT Sloan School of Management, shares the latest from the school’s full-time MBA program, including why it’s chosen to go test-optional and how the pandemic is shaping the classroom experience.

    Do you see yourself at MIT Sloan? Read on for the inside admissions scoop. [Show notes]

    This is one of the most competitive MBA application cycles in memory. Today, I'm interviewing the Assistant Dean of Admissions at one of the most competitive MBA programs, MIT Sloan.

    Dawna Levenson is Assistant Dean at MIT Sloan School of Management. Dawna earned her bachelor's and master's in Management Science at MIT Sloan, became a partner at Accenture, and then returned to MIT Sloan in 2007 as Associate Director of Academic Programs. She moved into admissions in 2012 and became Director of Admissions in 2013, and Assistant Dean in 2018.

    Can you give an overview of MIT Sloan's full-time MBA program for those listeners who aren't that familiar with it? [1:52]

    We have a two-year MBA, we have a one-semester core, and then three semesters to really shape the curriculum to meet your interests. We have three tracks. We have one in finance, one in entrepreneurship and innovation, and a third in enterprise management. Think of those as templates or maps for particular areas of concentration. We also have three certificates: one in business analytics, one in healthcare, and a third in sustainability. These have been designed so that people are able to actually do one of each, if they're interested. You could imagine that you may do the finance track, but then want to apply it to healthcare.

    One other distinction I want to make is that, while the tracks are very specific to our two-year MBAs, the certificates are actually open to not only our MBAs and the entire Sloan community, but actually the entire MIT community. We are, in fact, MIT School of Management. That can mean as much as you want it to mean. As an MBA student, you are able to get involved in classes and clubs and conferences throughout the Institute to really help compliment your MBA experience. You can take some of your electives throughout the Institute. You can actually, also, take classes at several of the Harvard schools as well.

    What’s new at MIT Sloan, other than a lockdown and a pandemic? [3:18]

    It's hard to ignore the pandemic, and we absolutely should not. What I think has come out of that is lots of really interesting conversations in the classroom, as well as lots of very interesting projects. Many of our courses, which are, in fact, project-based, have taken the opportunity to refocus on different aspects of the pandemic and COVID-19. Whether it be from a healthcare standpoint or whether it be infrastructure and the impact there, or if you just think about it from a global perspective, so many things have been impacted. This has really, I think, shifted the conversation an awful lot. And again, at MIT and MIT Sloan, we're really all about identifying and solving the world's biggest problems. There were those who said we've been built for this time. I think we're trying to do everything we can to really make a difference.

    • 27 min
    An Accepted Student’s Advice for Reapplying to Medical School

    An Accepted Student’s Advice for Reapplying to Medical School

    A tale of med school reapplication success [Show summary]

    After getting rejected from medical schools the first time around, Nicole Stephens bounced back and reapplied. Now happily anticipating the start of med school, she shares her advice for fellow reapplicants.

    How to apply stronger the second time around [Show notes]

    Were you rejected from this year's med school cycle? Is the deafening silence from medical schools causing you to fear rejection? Are you starting to think about reapplication?

    Our guest today, Nicole Stephens, reapplied successfully and is happily anticipating the start of medical school. She earned her bachelor's in neuroscience from UT Austin in May 2019, and she is currently pursuing an MS in biomedical science from MD Anderson UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Science in Houston. 

    Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, and where you grew up? [1:56]

    I grew up moving around the country with my brother and my parents, and both my parents served in the military. Every few years we would pack up and move to a new location. Not only did this inspire my future career, but it taught me a lot and shaped me a lot as a person, teaching me things like integrity and discipline and showing me the diversity across the whole country. We finally did settle in Central Texas where we really fell in love with the area. I decided to stay to do my undergrad in Austin at the University of Texas. Then, I stayed in Texas for my graduate program here in Houston and will be attending medical school here in Texas as well. I'm not from Texas, but I'm now a Texan at heart.

    How did you decide to pursue a career in medicine? [3:01]

    I decided around when I was in middle school and early in high school from observing and learning about the injuries of returning soldiers. Being from military communities, many of the members would deploy overseas and return with injuries like post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury. I saw somewhere in my community that I would be able to help. That's what inspired me to go into medicine.

    Did you volunteer with some of the veterans and soldiers that came back injured? [3:29]

    I was able to volunteer at the military hospital at Fort Hood, Texas in the ICU there. My mom, she's an artist. She did some art with some veterans, and I was able to volunteer with her for that. This was when I was 14 or 15. I wasn't able to do much as a volunteer, being so young, but I was able to observe a lot. I think being in that environment at a young age, I was able to see that that is what I want to pursue in the future.

    Why did you decide to pursue the master's in biomedical science? [4:09]

    I knew that there would be some time between my time as an undergrad and medical school, and I wanted to do something that would challenge myself, but also show medical schools that I was dedicated to continuing my education and show them that I was able to continue to increase my GPA. That's why I decided to do a program. The reason I chose my particular program is because I had the opportunity to continue my ...

    • 25 min
    What to Expect from the MBA Experience at Cambridge Judge Business School

    What to Expect from the MBA Experience at Cambridge Judge Business School

    What makes the Cambridge Judge MBA experience unique? [Show summary]

    Charlotte Russell-Green, Head of MBA Recruitment and Admissions at Cambridge Judge Business School, explores the one-of-a-kind experience students can expect from the full-time MBA program at Cambridge Judge’s historic campus.

    What Cambridge Judge is looking for... and what it can offer YOU [Show notes]

    Are you intrigued by the innovative and venerated Cambridge Judge Business School? Interested in an immersive one-year MBA in the UK? The Cambridge Judge Head of MBA Recruitment and Admissions is our guest today.

    Charlotte Russell-Green earned her bachelor's in Drama and Theater Arts from the University of London. In only a couple of years, she was working in the MBA admissions world, first as a senior marketing executive for QS World MBA in North America and then in MBA admissions for Cambridge Judge. She became Head of Recruitment and Admissions for the MBA roughly five years ago. 

    Can you give us an overview of the Cambridge Judge MBA program and focus on its more distinctive elements? [2:03]

    The Cambridge MBA is a one-year full-time MBA program, run out of the University of Cambridge, which is in the UK, which is in Europe. The great thing about the Cambridge MBA is it really is experiential. The curriculum has been designed to take you on a micro to macro journey, but with each term, there is a key learning milestone: a practical project where you're working with a real life client. There are two live consulting projects that run alongside your studies, as well as the global consulting project, which is where you work with an international client on site as a consultant, as well as an internship opportunity in the summer. So it's really experiential, and it's really, really collaborative.

    We have a class size of circa 200, which we find is optimal for us and the learning environment that we have, because you can build meaningful relationships with your classmates. It's broad enough and diverse enough to build a far-reaching network, but you're really going to get to know everyone in the class. You're also set amongst the University of Cambridge, so you are a member of one of the famous Cambridge colleges, and you get to have the Harry Potter-style dining experience. It's a fantastic opportunity and a great life experience.

    Over the summer term, you can do an internship. We keep the summer term quite flexible because people can be at quite different journeys of their career path. Some people want to do an internship. Some people choose to do another consulting project, or some even choose to do a research paper.

    Do the students have any difficulty changing career direction or returning to their home country if they aren't from the UK? I know most Cambridge Judge students are not. [4:02]

    Usually around 90% of the class is international. A really good thing to look at, which perhaps we can link to later, is the employment report, which is a great way of seeing where our students go after the MBA.

    • 30 min

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