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

    • Education
    • 4.4 • 38 Ratings

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.

    What Prospective MBAs Need to Know About Applying to INSEAD

    What Prospective MBAs Need to Know About Applying to INSEAD

    Discover INSEAD's unique one-year MBA [Show summary]

    Virginie Fougea, Global Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at INSEAD, shares what’s new for the school’s MBA program and what prospective applicants with global business ambitions should know.

    Do you aspire to do business internationally? Consider INSEAD! [Show notes]

    Are you a citizen of the world? Do you aspire to be one? Do you have global business ambitions? Then you should be interested in the business school for the world, INSEAD. Its Global Director of Admissions and Financial Aid, Virginie Fougea, is our guest today.

    Can you give an overview of the INSEAD MBA program for those listeners who aren't that familiar with it, focusing on its more distinctive elements? [1:29]

    INSEAD was started in 1960. We welcomed our first class around those years. Since the very beginning, we have had very international classes. We have a number of Europeans represented, but also people from outside Europe. Now we have, for example, 92 different nationalities in the current classes, so that is definitely in the DNA of the school. We have a campus in Fontainebleau in France, which is 60 kilometers south of Paris, as well as the campus in Singapore. We have a hub in San Francisco, that is the newest one, and we also have a campus in Abu Dhabi. The idea was to allow people to be on the ground, and not just talk about how to do business in Asia without having put a foot in the continent.

    We have an MBA, MiM (Master in Management), Executive MBA, and Executive Master in Finance. For the MBA, we welcome two classes. One in September that starts in the end of August/beginning of September, and one starts in January every year. We welcome roughly 500 students, total per class, with 300 in Fontainebleau and 200 in Singapore.

    It used to be really easy for students to move among the campuses, and most students did not attend the entire program in one campus. How have COVID travel restrictions affected that? [3:14]

    It did affect some people during their studies. Those who were in the 2020 classes last year, obviously all the borders were closed and you couldn't reorganize your plans. Those people obviously had to stay on the location where they were. However, quite a number of people decided, when the countries were closing down their borders, to go back home. We had a few people doing that. Others decided to stay in Fontainebleau or in Singapore and keep sharing their apartments with their roommates. To be very honest, now with the quarantine and the fact that the countries have reorganized the travel and the possibility to enter the different countries, we are able to have all our students in person on both our campuses in Fontainebleau and Singapore. For example, we just had the Master in Management students who just all went to Singapore all together. They spent the first part of the program in France, in Fontainebleau, and they all moved -- the 90 of them moved -- to Singapore for the rest of their program as planned.

    • 35 min
    All About Duke’s Top-Ranked PA Program

    All About Duke’s Top-Ranked PA Program

    What is Duke's physician assistant program looking for in applicants? [Show summary]

    April Stouder, Associate Program Director and Chair of the Admissions Committee for Duke’s PA program, explores what’s unique about this top-ranked program and what applicants can do to be competitive.

    A focus on primary care makes Duke's PA program unique [Show notes]

    Are you preparing to become a PA, or even just considering the field? Are you wondering how to apply successfully? Our guest today is the Associate Program Director at the first US PA program, and she's going to tell you all about it.

    April Stouder earned her bachelor's at Manchester College and her master's of Health Science in Duke University's PA program in 2000. From 2002 to 2012, she worked as a PA at Duke. From 2012 to 2018, she was Director of Clinical Education at Duke, and she has served as Associate Program Director and Chair of the Admissions Committee since June 2018. 

    Can you give us an overview of the Duke PA program, focusing on its more distinctive elements? [1:53]

    Most PA programs are two years in length, and ours is no different. Perhaps what distinguishes us a little bit is our primary care-focused mission. Not every PA program is distinctly focused on primary care, but that is a big part of our mission, training primary care PAs. We are one of the programs that's been around the longest. We were the first, established in 1965. We had a class of four graduates in 1967, and then the profession took off from there. That's part of our proud history and always something that we like to bring up, but we're definitely not a program that rests on our historic laurels; we're definitely a program that likes to evolve and improve along the way.

    We are one of the larger programs in the country. We have 90 students per cohort, a total of 180 students at any given time, and approximately 40 faculty and staff. As my program director always says, we're like a giant cruise ship, a big vessel in the ocean chugging along. We're a big program, and that does distinguish us from a lot of programs out there. We're also housed at an academic medical center. There are other programs at academic medical centers, but that does distinguish us from some of the programs out there as well.

    The curriculum includes one year of didactic instruction and one year of clinical. Is that pretty typical for all PA programs? [3:08]

    That is pretty typical. There's a few programs out there that are a little bit longer in length; maybe they’ll start someone in their junior or senior year of college, and then they go straight into the PA program. But the more typical thing now, because the terminal degree is the master's degree, is that most folks have finished their bachelor's studies and then come to PA school as a graduate program, which is two years in length.

    How has COVID affected the Duke PA program, both the didactic portion and the clinical portions? [3:45]

    COVID really did a number on medical education across the country, and we were certainly no exception to that. In the spring of last year, we had students out on their clinical rotations, and we had a first year cohort of students that were used to coming into the classroom,

    • 38 min
    What Happened to the LSAT-Flex?

    What Happened to the LSAT-Flex?

    Everything you need to know to about the latest incarnation of the LSAT [Show summary]

    LSAT prep expert Steve Schwartz returns to the Admissions Straight Talk to discuss the demise of the LSAT-Flex, the future of the LSAT, and essential test prep tips for law school applicants.

    How to prep right and crush the LSAT! [Show notes]

    LSAC recently announced new test dates, the demise of LSAT-Flex, and the return of the LSAT, but remotely. Let's get the low-down from LSAT expert Steve Schwartz of LSAT Unplugged.

    Steve Schwartz, of the LSAT blog and the LSAT Unplugged podcast and YouTube channels, graduated from Columbia University in 2008. In high school and college, he tutored students in a variety of subjects and also helped prep test-takers for standardized tests, including the LSAT. However, he really began to focus on the LSAT when he was applying to law school. He founded the LSAT Blog in 2008 and never looked back. Today, 13 years later, he has helped thousands master the LSAT, get into law school, and secure scholarships worth thousands of dollars.

    We spoke almost exactly one year ago when the LSAT-Flex was new. COVID-19 was new. At the time we discussed the new and remote LSAT-Flex. Today, we're going to discuss the demise of the LSAT-Flex. What gives? [2:02]

    The Flex was always meant to be temporary. That's why LSAC gave it the Flex name to distinguish it from the normal regular LSAT. But here we are, one year later, COVID-19 is unfortunately still with us to some extent, although hopefully things will be looking better later this year with the vaccine rollouts and such. But they can't keep administering the LSAT without experimental sections. They've got to be able to test out future questions. So starting in August this year, they're adding back in an experimental section, and they're going to start calling it just the LSAT again.

    How is the LSAT going to be different from the LSAT-Flex, given that they are both remotely proctored exams? [2:55]

    It's a very, very small difference. I don't want people to get overly stressed about it. It's still the same question types, the same difficulty level. You're going to have logic games, logical reasoning, and reading comprehension like before. It'll still be the same length of 35 minutes per section, but the overall test sitting will be longer by adding back in that fourth, unscored, experimental section. They'll also insert a break between the second and third sections. So the length gets a little bit longer: a 10 minute break, plus another 35 minutes for that fourth section. So test-takers are looking at roughly a 45-minute longer exam, but as you said, it'll still be online.


    Are there any in-person testing centers planned for those who prefer that? [3:46]

    Not currently. At the moment, I don't think that we'll see any for quite a while, but LSAC indicates they're open to the possibility, although they still will keep the online option, we're expecting. They've said it'll be online through at least June, 2022. But this is still much shorter than the pre-COVID LSAT, which had five sections: four scored, one unscored experimental. The LSAT, for the foreseeable future,

    • 23 min
    An Inside Look at USC’s Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry

    An Inside Look at USC’s Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry

    Do you fit with USC’s Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry?[Show summary]

    Dr. Anita Tourah, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs at Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC, offers an inside look at the dental student experience and admissions process.

    How an emphasis on research, education and patient care makes USC’s Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry unique [Show notes]

    Are you thinking of a career in dentistry? Worried about how to get in? Wondering what a dental education requires before you earn that DDS? My guest today is the Dean of Admissions at a top dental school.

    Dr. Anita Tourah is Associate Professor of Clinical Dentistry and Assistant Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC. She earned her bachelor's degree in chemical engineering at Tehran Azad University and earned her DDS from Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry, as well as a special certificate in prosthodontics.

    Can you give me an overview of the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC's program, focusing on its more distinctive elements? [1:46]

    Our school is focused on three fundamentals: research, education, and patient care. These are an integral part of who we are. If we go to the research, we've been consistently part of the top-funded private dental schools by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, and we have trained many academic leaders who run NIH-funded research nationwide and worldwide. We encourage our students to do research, either basic research or translational research, and our faculty guide them to conduct that research and also put together the manuscript for publication. We host a very successful annual research day, and that's when our students, faculty, and postdoctoral fellows come together to show their innovative discoveries. We also have a publication, The Explorer, which has won multiple national awards that provides a comprehensive summary of all the innovative discoveries that we do at USC.

    The second fundamental is patient care. We are located in the heart of Los Angeles. We have a great and extensive array of patients for our students, and we have very extensive community outreach programs, such as Union Rescue Mission, Mobile Clinic, QueensCare, and numerous rotations to the hospitals and communities that give treatment to our patients. Many of those treatments are free for our patients.

    Education. We strive for the best education for our students and we always try to bring new technology, new equipment, new software, new faculty with new ideas. This commitment shines through in all that we do in the field of prosthodontics, endodontics, periodontics, and so on. So at Herman Ostrow, we provide the best education for our students, we provide the best treatment for our patients, and we're always trying to find new innovations through our research program.

    Is research required for the students? How soon do they start in terms of patient care? [3:58]

    No, it's not a required part. But if they're interested, we encourage them, and we guide them and we support them throughout the process.

    Patient care starts in the third year. The first two years are mostly preclinical where they unlock skills and procedures.

    • 26 min
    What It’s Like to Apply for a Master’s in Finance or MBA in 2021

    What It’s Like to Apply for a Master’s in Finance or MBA in 2021

    Are you considering a Master’s in Finance or MBA degree? [Show summary]

    Admissions veteran and Accepted consultant Dr. Christie St-John explores the latest in MBA admissions and provides insights for those applying for a master’s in finance.

    Read on for must-know admissions insights! [Show notes]

    In May of 2020, admissions veteran Dr. Christie St-John joined Accepted as an MBA and graduate admissions consultant. Today, I'm going to speak with her about MBA admissions and about master’s in finance admissions.

    Dr. St-John was a guest on our old chats as Associate Director of Admissions for Tuck. More recently, she was on Admissions Straight Talk as Director of Vanderbilt Owen's MBA Recruiting and Admissions, and most recently as an Accepted grad school and MBA admissions consultant. Today, Dr. St. John is going to share her expertise with you and me, once again, on this podcast.

    You've been advising applicants as a consultant for about a year now. How has your perspective on the admissions process evolved since you moved to helping applicants, as opposed to evaluating applicants? [2:37]

    I'm looking at their resumes and their essays much more critically because I know what is going to be said and discussed on the other end of it. While they may think they have wonderful essays that explain everything, sometimes they are too close to what they're writing about, and the message is totally lost because they are leaving out important elements of it. That has really helped me get people on the right track to making their essays as detailed, yet still concise, as possible so that their best qualities will show up.

    Let's just talk about the resume. What are some of the more common mistakes that you see, or that you are now correcting, that you saw as an admissions director? [3:41]

    A lot of times the candidates would just put down a job description, and that is not what we're looking for. We're actually looking for results. Showing that you have initiative, that you have actually had an impact, however small, on the organization you're working with. That's what the admissions committees are looking for. In many, many cases, members of the career management staff will also be on the admissions committee. You can believe that's what they're looking for because their job is to get you a job. If you don't have the experience or the qualifications or any sort of leverageable skills that they can help you with, they are probably going to nix your acceptance because they can't help you. The whole point of your going to a school is to be helped to find a job. You need to be a bit more self-aware of what you know how to do, and what you don't know how to do as well, when you're coming up with your long and short term goals.


    What about the essays? What are you looking to improve? [4:55]

    The first thing is to make sure they're actually answer...

    • 22 min
    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

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
38 Ratings

38 Ratings

megan@podcastingyou ,

Such a Great Resource!

Linda does such a good job covering a variety of topics. Her guests offer awesome advice as well. I would recommend this show to anyone looking to learn more about admissions!

CC_Babi ,

I wish this existed when I was younger!

Linda provides so much valuable information on the college admissions process. I just wish this resource existed when I was younger! So glad to refer this show to anyone who has a family member going to college soon because this show answers so many questions. -Valerie Zaric

Erica Grad School Applicant ,

Pre-Health Applicant

I listened to every episode of the Admissions Straight Talk podcast when I started my physician assistant program application process and gained so much from it. There was a plethora of detailed information and so many great tips and tricks to developing the best application possible. I found that the information was largely unique to this podcast, as I did not come across anywhere else in my many months of grad school research. It is very clear that Ms. Abraham and the Admissions Straight Talk team are experts in their field! Even while listening to the episodes about earning an MBA, or other programs that did not directly pertain to my area of interest, I still felt the information was insightful and useful. This podcast as well as help from Carol, an Accepted admission counselor, made a significant impact on my applications, which lead to me being accepted to several PA schools. Thank you Ms. Abraham for all of your hard work and for everything that you offer grad school applicants!

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