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

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    • 4.4, 33 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.

    An MBA’s Perspective on Columbia Business School

    An MBA’s Perspective on Columbia Business School

    What's it like to be a student at a top business school during COVID-19? [Show summary]

    Eli Engelman, member of the Columbia Business School Class of 2021, shares his experience applying to and matriculating at Columbia’s MBA program, including how his experience has been shaped by COVID-19.

    A CBS student reflects on his b-school experience so far [Show notes]

    Are you wondering if an MBA moved online is a valuable experience? Or are you less worried about how your education will be delivered and more worried about getting into an elite MBA program when you didn't necessarily attend a college with an Ivy League pedigree? Our guest today will address both those topics.

    Eli Engelman grew up outside of New York city and decided after a stint in the Israeli army to attend the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, where he earned a BA in finance and minored in philosophy and computer applications and business. After interning at Bank Leumi, he joined the bank full time in 2016 and worked there until he joined Columbia Business School's Class of 2021.

    Can you tell us a little bit about your background and where you grew up? What do you like to do for fun? [1:52]

    I grew up in Monsey, New York, which is about 45 minutes north of the city. I attended a local high school and upon graduating, I decided that I wanted a little bit of an interesting experience in life. And so I moved to Israel to study abroad and join the Israeli Defense Force. And after three years in Israel, I decided to return to New York, this time Manhattan. I wanted to position myself at the center of business and to pursue a degree at Baruch College. Like you said, I majored in finance and minored in computer information systems and philosophy. And I had a wonderful internship at Bank Leumi, which is Israel's largest investments bank, and I decided to join them full-time. I loved the idea of being at the intersection of business, as well as that international experience that being at an Israeli bank afforded me. And at Leumi, I was a member of both the portfolio strategy and alternative investment teams. For fun, I love to read, I love to snowboard, hike and travel, and discovering different cuisines is a favorite pastime of mine.

    Your undergraduate degree is in business. You have four and a half solid years of experience at an international bank. Why did you decide you wanted or needed an MBA? [3:11]

    There are three primary reasons. I think there are actually many more, but the three that spring to mind are the fact that at Leumi, I got a really broad experience and I thought it was very important that starting out, I would focus more on the breadth than the depth of my experience, just to see what I would like. And I worked on public markets and private markets, and the private markets were really interesting to me. I hoped an MBA would allow me to leverage what I learned at Leumi and provide me a platform to focus my skill on that particular discipline.

    The second was that I wanted to just surround myself with ambitious, hardworking peers who I could learn so much from,

    • 21 min
    Applying to Med School During COVID-19

    Applying to Med School During COVID-19

    What unique challenges can this year's med school applicants expect to face, and how can they be overcome? [Show summary]

    Dr. Herman “Flash” Gordon, Accepted medical admissions consultant, walks med school applicants through applying during COVID-19, as well as disclosing thorny issues like academic discipline or a criminal record.

    How COVID-19 is impacting medical school admissions [Show notes]

    Dr. Gordon returns to Admissions Straight Talk to discuss applying during the pandemic, as well as applying with blemishes, like a criminal record or academic discipline. What qualifies him to guide you? He served as chair of a medical school admissions committee for four years.

    Dr. Gordon earned his bachelor's at Harvard and his PhD in developmental neuroscience from Caltech. He began teaching at the University of Arizona's medical school in Tucson in 1991 and has been doing so ever since. He also served as chair of the med school's admissions committee, and after leaving that position in 2014, he's been a very popular admissions consultant at Accepted. Who can better guide you in applying to med school, especially if you have some issues to deal with? (And everyone is dealing with the issue called COVID-19.)

    How did you get involved in med school admissions at the University of Arizona? [2:14]

    Like so many committee assignments, I was drafted. I was fine with it because I thought it was an opportunity to help choose the students that I'd be teaching. As I got into it, I really, really enjoyed it. It's such an important committee in med schools. It's definitely the most labor intensive, even probably more than PMT. It's also extremely rewarding, because you're changing people's lives by accepting them to med school, and it's such an intense effort. You're working with your colleagues who are also really dedicated to this task, and the outcome is great. You end up with this class that you really enjoy teaching, and you feel good about them becoming doctors.

    At University of Arizona, like at many schools, there are a number of students who serve on a committee as well. And that's very valuable, and I think they get the word out to fellow students, both at their own school and other schools, how dedicated everybody is to this effort. They also communicate how much effort it is, but it's also something I think everybody feels good about. I know that from talking with colleagues, who say "I had to serve on this or that committee," the one committee that everybody says was really worthwhile was the admissions committee.

    There's uncertainty about the kind of education future med students will get this fall. (Online? Offline? Blended? Clinical experience?) What's your take on how they should be responding to these different challenges? Let's take, first of all, the uncertainty surrounding the MCAT.

    • 32 min
    What MBA Students Can Expect at UCLA Anderson

    What MBA Students Can Expect at UCLA Anderson

    Are you dreaming of an MBA from UCLA Anderson? [Show summary]

    UCLA Anderson’s Assistant Dean of MBA Admissions, Alex Lawrence, explores the opportunities awaiting future MBA students, as well as the changes Anderson is making to campus life this fall to provide its students with a safe, rewarding MBA experience.

    Learn about Anderson's unique MBA program, as well as tips for submitting an acceptance-worthy Anderson application [Show notes]

    Alex Lawrence is the Assistant Dean of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid at UCLA School of Management and an Anderson alum who earned his MBA in 1999. Prior to that, he earned bachelors and masters degrees in electrical engineering. After earning his MBA, he worked in management consulting for four years and then returned to UCLA Anderson as director of the Riordan Programs before becoming Assistant Dean for MBA Admissions.

    Can you give an overview of the Anderson full-time MBA program, focusing on its more distinctive elements? [2:08]

    Anderson emphasizes early specialization and hands-on experiences. We're like the typical two-year MBA program, having core classes with electives following that. I think one of the distinctive features, especially since we were the first school to have this as part of the requirement, is that all of our students have to complete one of two hands-on exercises or opportunities, that being the applied management research project, where you get a chance to work with an organization on a real business challenge or a business creation option. We were the first ones to create that opportunity for our MBA students.

    In addition, we're not a one-trick pony in the sense that we're not just a consulting school or a finance school. There's a lot of different areas that our students can be interested in or focus on. That variety makes our campus, our culture, so much more distinctive than other campuses, because students come in with diverse backgrounds and diverse interests.


    Other than the lockdown and pandemic, what's new at UCLA Anderson? [3:37]

    One of the big things is that we launched a brand-new campus, a brand-new facility building, which is spectacular. Before this virus situation went down, the students were really enjoying it, the visitors who were coming, prospects, as well as those who had just been admitted and are still coming, the class of 2022 and beyond. Fantastic facility. Our new dean at that time, Tony Bernardo, he's still short of a year of being in the program, though he's been here on the campus for over 20 years, so we had a new dean in place as well. Those are two of the biggest things.

    What don't people know about Anderson that you would like them to know, on a bigger scale? [5:03]

    I alluded to it a little bit earlier, talking about the variety of choices that students can look at. Very few people know that in the Los Angeles area alone,

    • 37 min
    Finding Volunteer Opportunities for Pre-Meds Despite COVID-19

    Finding Volunteer Opportunities for Pre-Meds Despite COVID-19

    Can students make a difference during the current pandemic? [Show summary]

    Jalen Benson, founder of the National Student Response Network and first-year med student at Harvard, discusses what health care volunteer opportunities are out there and how to find them during the Coronavirus outbreak. Listen in.

    Finding volunteer opportunities for premeds despite COVID-19 [Show notes]

    Here's a common scenario we're hearing about from premeds and others in healthcare fields. It goes like this: “I had a great volunteer community service gig lined up for the spring and summer, but it was canceled due to COVID. What can I do to get this kind of experience and apply effectively?”

    Our guest today is Jalen Benson, founder of the National Student Response Network. Jalen is a first-year student at Harvard Medical, after completing his undergrad in biology at Dartmouth and spending two years as a research assistant at Stanford University. When COVID-19 hit and students went home early, he founded the NSRP, a national network of medical, nursing, and PA students in all fifty states that helps connect volunteers with the organizations that need them and might not know they’re there. While many traditional internships and volunteer opportunities are shelved, there are still many ways you can help. The trick is to know where to ask, and realize that even if you can’t go on a far-flung internship, there are many local organizations that need help right now.

    Can you tell us a little bit about your background outside of medicine? [1:55]

    I'm from the town of Pensacola, Florida. It's in the panhandle of Florida between Tallahassee and New Orleans, so way, way at the far western end. Nice and warm, nice sunny beaches. So growing up in Pensacola, I really could never be still. I loved playing soccer, and I was always doing that and running around doing a million and one things from history, to working at the beach. And my family was mostly me, my younger brother, and my mom.

    And going to college I got involved more in the outdoors, and now I love hiking, and skiing, and the whole nine yards. All the things you get into going to New Hampshire when you see snow for the first time. My parents didn't go to college, so there was no warning of what to do or how to do this, it was, "All right, it sounds great." I visited, it looked good to me. I didn't think about what snow was, I hadn't seen it before, but I adjusted and I learned to love it, and I learned to play ice hockey, and ski, and go hiking. My parents still don't know quite how that happened, but here we are.

    When did you decide to become a doctor? [3:21]

    It's funny, I spent most of my life trying to avoid medicine. My mom is an MRI tech, and she raised us primarily by herself, so that meant a lot of weekends when she was on call, we were on call. Going to the hospital and sitting in waiting rooms, and I was like ... I didn't want to do this. I thought I was going to go and do law. And then as I got older, I fell more in love with science. And what struck me about medicine was the idea of the trust the patient gives you and the story.

    • 29 min
    Combining a Stanford MBA with a Tech Startup Career

    Combining a Stanford MBA with a Tech Startup Career

    What's it like growing a startup during business school? [Show summary]

    Stephen Cognetta had already co-founded his tech startup, Exponent, by the time he entered the Stanford GSB class of 2020. Today, he shares how his MBA experience shaped his approach to growing Exponent and what the business is doing to help job applicants land their next tech position.

    Combining a Stanford MBA with a tech startup career [Show notes]

    Are you thinking you'd like your next job to be in software engineering, product management, data analysis, or a host of other high-tech fields? Interested in learning about the Stanford MBA experience? This Admissions Straight Talk episode is going to discuss both how Exponent can help you land that next high-tech job, as well as how Stanford helped our guest run his startup, Exponent.

    Stephen Cognetta earned his bachelor's at Princeton in computer science before taking a position at Google in product management, where he did work on Google search features and then Android. In 2017, he founded Exponent and joined the Stanford MBA class of 2020 a little while later. Let's hear about his business, his MBA experience, and where he's headed. 

    Can you tell us a little bit about your background, where you grew up, and what you like to do for fun (when you can leave your house)? [2:07]

    I grew up in the Bay Area; my life always keeps pulling me back here, to the San Francisco Bay Area. I worked at Google, as you mentioned, for a couple of years. Then when I was founding Exponent, I took a big cross-country road trip where I went to 44 different states over a year and a half. I was doing a little bit of the digital nomad life, sort of starting a company, traveling, trying to explore and get out of the Bay Area. But of course, it took me back. My life took me back there, and I came back to Stanford for a great opportunity. So I'm back in the Bay Area. 

    Some things I like to do for fun: Obviously, I love road trips, exploring and seeing things. I'm a huge fan of puzzles and riddles and things like that. I go crazy for twisting plots of TV shows and movies and stuff like that, which is probably what got me to be a computer science major in the first place.

    What was the most interesting place you visited when you took that 44-state road trip? [3:11]

    I really loved the natural beauty of West Virginia. It was just super beautiful. I was staying in a town called Lewisburg, and it was near a bunch of natural beauty. I also felt like there was a lot of an appreciation for the land there that felt really special. It was on my list because it was one of those places that I didn't know much about or had much of an expectation about, but I was just blown away by the forest and the natural beauty and all the local types of flowers and plants that were there in the region. I think we in California have this idea that we're the most beautiful place in the US. California is certainly beautiful, but there's just so much beauty in other parts of the US also that I was not exposed to or knew about.

    • 32 min
    Writing a Compelling Personal Statement

    Writing a Compelling Personal Statement

    How can you write a stand-out personal statement? [Show summery]

    Dr. Mary Mahoney, Associate Professor of English at Elmira College and Accepted consultant, draws from her expertise in the medical humanities to deliver advice for writing a compelling personal statement. Listen to the show!

    A professor of English and Accepted admissions consultant shares top writing tips [Show notes]

    Our guest today, Dr. Mary Mahoney, is Associate Professor of English at Elmira College and a recent winner of the Barnhill essay contest at that college. She focuses much of her work on medical narrative and medical humanities. This work, in Dr. Mahoney's words, helps students understand and articulate why they want the medical career or healthcare career they are pursuing. In addition, Dr. Mahoney serves on the Elmira College Committee that reviews personal statements and provides feedback on interviews for Elmira students. 

    Who can better help you tell your story through your personal statement?

    Can you tell us a little bit about your background? [2:07]

    The story that I tell that brings home a little bit of who I am and how I was raised is that I'm the youngest of five children in a pretty typical Irish family. When I came home from high school one day and told my mom that I wanted to be a poet, she said, "That's terrific, but not until after you go to nursing school." So that's what I did. I had a bunch of friends who were going into nursing school, and I had no other clear direction. I came from a family of math people. Auditors, accountants, all math people. And while I liked math, I really had no interest in doing anything like that. So nursing sounded good to me. I was an empathetic kind of teenager. So I went ahead and did that.

    I was a nurse by the time I was 19, and started working as a nurse when I was 19, but just continued going to school full-time over and over and over and over and over again, all the way through to the PhD. I didn't know that there would be a way to bridge the two, but I started writing about being a nurse when I was in my Master's program at Sarah Lawrence College and received a whole lot of encouragement to continue writing that way, because there was so little representation of a nurse's point of view in essays and stories and articles and things like that. People thought that it felt fresh, in the sense that it wasn't a writer writing about being a writer. It was a writer writing about being a nurse.

    I found a conference at Duke University, a conference on poetry and medicine, and it was all about the medical humanities. That was how I found out about the medical humanities, in addition to seeking out journals where my writing would be suitable.

    What are the medical humanities? [4:14]

    The medical humanities is an interdisciplinary focus on studying what living is, what life is, what it means to be a human, what it means to be a person, what it means to live in a body that gets sick. What it means to be mortal. What that means in relation to the people that we have relationships with, our cultures, our communities, and also,

    • 37 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
33 Ratings

33 Ratings

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!

MBA Hopeful and Accepted ,

Great Podcast

Linda does a great job connecting you with the school-specific admissions officers which can really help you strategize with your application. I found an episode that worked for me and listened to it multiple times to fully ingrain the message. This led to an acceptance letter for the MBA program I desired. Thanks Linda!

attcat08 ,

1Degree App MBA and Entrepreneurial Journey

I just listened in full to the interview with Max Huc and Sam Boochever at Darden. This interview was very insightful of what it's truly like to run a business while working fulltime on school.
I have not yet reached the level of my educational goals to apply for my MBA, however it is in my future consideration. Hearing this interview has better helped me to outline an appropriate timeframe for me to attain my own educational goals. I don't think I've ever had access to an interview so valuable to my future plans.

The questions asked by the interviewer were very helpful and uncovered a lot of opportunities as well as risks in trying to engage in both endeavors simultaneously.
The interviewees were extremely articulate and gave very honest responses. You could hear their excitement and dedication in every answer. I wholeheartedly enjoyed listening to this.

Thank you for sharing. I look forward to hearing many more.

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