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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    • 4.3, 32 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.

    Preparing for Life as an MBA Student at Toronto Rotman

    Preparing for Life as an MBA Student at Toronto Rotman

    An engineer with Indian Railways seeks innovation as a Rotman MBA student. [Show summary]

    Meenakshi Chauhan spent five years as an engineer with Indian Railways (and the only woman in her department) before leaving in search of a more challenging, innovative work environment. Now, she’s preparing to re-enter student life at the University of Toronto’s Rotman MBA program.

    Preparing for life as an MBA student at Toronto Rotman [Show notes]

    Meenakshi Chauhan has worked since graduating college as an Indian Railways engineer. She started a beauty blog in 2018 and is now looking forward to starting her MBA studies at the University of Toronto's Rotman School.

    Can you tell us a little bit about your background, where you grew up, and what you like to do for fun? [1:23]

    I was born in a small village where I lived with my parents and their extended family. I lived there for about two years, but for most of my childhood, I've lived with my grandmother. My father was the only person earning and my mother had to take care of the whole family, so they didn't have much time for me. So I was mostly brought up by my grandmother. I lived for around eight to 10 years with her, and then I moved back with my parents. As far as what I like to do for fun, there are a lot of things that I like to do. I like to paint. I like to cook, and this lockdown has given me the chance to cook a lot. And I love to work out. On my blog, I'm also writing a lot about health and nutrition, so I love to work out and take care of myself.

    You earned your BTech in 2013. On your blog you write, “I was selected as an assistant engineer in Indian Railways, considered one of the most prestigious jobs in the engineering field. I was at the top of the world until I joined. I realized that the job was not as exciting as I had expected it to be.” Why didn't it live up to your expectations? [2:32]

    So when I joined Indian Railways, I had a certain impression in my mind: The job is going to be very challenging, I'm going to work and learn about a lot of new technologies, and I'll be involved in innovating stuff. Indian Railways is completely owned by the Indian government, so bureaucracy tends to slow down things a bit, and I felt that when I started working with Indian Railways that things were a bit slow. It took months to get the approval for anything. So it got a little monotonous for me, and I didn't really find it as challenging as I was expecting it to be. So it got a little bit boring for me there, and I wanted to do something more exciting that would help me develop my skills as well as enjoy the whole working process.

    Was it difficult for you as a woman in a male-dominated field and industry? [4:04]

    It was a bit difficult for me, and mostly because in the department I joined, there were not many women. I was the only woman in that department, so I got judged a lot. My intelligence was questioned. My seniors, as well as my juniors, would often say that I was not fit for the job. I wasn’t capable of handling long hours or putting in that much effort towards my work. So that was a bit disheartening for me. Eventually, I did handle it, but initially it was a bit disheartening for me.

    • 17 min
    What to Expect from the New LSAT-Flex

    What to Expect from the New LSAT-Flex

    Show summary: LSAT expert Steve Schwartz shares how to prepare for the new online LSAT exam.

    Steve Schwartz, who’s spent 12 years helping thousands master the LSAT, breaks down what test-takers need to know about preparing for and taking the new online LSAT-Flex.

    Show notes: What test-takers need to know about the LSAT-Flex!

    The March and April LSATs were canceled. What are applicants to do? Take the GRE? No way. LSAT-Flex to the rescue!

    Our guest today is Steve Schwartz, of the LSAT Blog and the LSAT Unplugged podcast and YouTube channel. Steve graduated from Columbia University in 2008. In high school and college, he tutored various 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 for law school. He founded the LSAT Blog in 2008 and never looked back. Today, 12 years later, he has helped thousands master the LSAT and get into law school and sometimes secure scholarships worth tens of thousands of dollars.

    How is the LSAT-Flex different, in format and delivery, from the old LSAT? [2:01]

    The biggest difference is that it's online and students are doing it from home. The main reason for that, of course, is we're speaking during COVID-19, stay-at-home orders, quarantines, shelter-in-place, and so it wasn't possible to do it in person, so they've moved pretty quickly to allow students to do it from home.

    And what about the content of the LSAT-Flex? [2:24]

    The content is the same, except the amount of content is different. So you still have your logic games, logical reasoning, and reading comprehension, but now on LSAT-Flex, you have only one section of each, whereas in the old in-person LSAT, whether paper and pencil or digital, you had five sections—four scored plus one experimental, and the four included two logical reasoning sections rather than one as we have now in the LSAT-Flex.


    Are they changing the scoring as a result, or keeping the same scale? [2:52]

    It will still be the same scale. So students will still receive a score on the band of 120 to 180, but there are fewer scored questions—only 75 scored questions rather than 100 scored questions, so each question is worth more.

    Are they going to count the logical reasoning section twice somehow because there are now half the number of those questions? [3:13]

    That was my big question as well, and fortunately LSAT did tell us that, in fact, they will not double-weight logical reasoning. So each section will be worth approximately the same, which leads you to ask, why was logical reasoning ever half the exam if they're willing to do an exam that does not include that? I think it's simply the requirements of the platform, the requirements of administering a remote exam, and shortening the length of it from five sections to now only three sections, which can be done in about two hours.

    Should applicants adjust their preparations if they're taking the LSAT-Flex? [3:49]

    They certainly should. You're doing it two hours,

    • 17 min
    What Prospective MBAs Should Know About Applying to Michigan Ross

    What Prospective MBAs Should Know About Applying to Michigan Ross

    Applying to business school during a pandemic [Show summary]

    Soojin Kwon (Managing Director, Full-Time MBA Admissions and Program at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business) and Diana Economy, Director of Full-Time MBA Admissions at Ross, answers pressing applicant questions about applying to Ross. They address how the application process has shifted in light of COVID-19 and what accepted students can expect from their MBA experience this fall.

    What prospective MBAs should know about applying to Michigan Ross [Show notes]

    Are you among the many MBA wannabes who are thinking about applying for an MBA? Are you wondering whether to apply  this cycle or next? We've invited Soojin Kwon and Diana Economy to answer the most common applicant questions related to COVID-19 and its impact on MBA admissions, specifically at Michigan Ross. During the podcast, Soojin Kwon provides an excellent framework for evaluating whether you should apply now or not.

    Most of us have been confined to our homes for over a month. I first of all want to express my profound hope that all listeners and their loved ones are well. The restrictions and challenges of the coronavirus have wreaked havoc on so many areas of our lives, and this show is devoted to the challenges it has posed in the MBA admissions world, specifically at Michigan Ross’ top-notch, full-time MBA program.

    It gives me great pleasure to have on today’s show Soojin Kwon, Managing Director of the Full-Time MBA Admissions and Program at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, and Diana Economy, Director of Full-Time MBA Admissions at University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Both are returning guests to Admissions Straight Talk and I'm thrilled to have them back. Soojin and Diana, in addition to being highly experienced in MBA admissions, and specifically Ross admissions, are both also highly articulate in this extraordinary time in so many ways. I’ve invited them on so that we can learn how the Michigan Ross program is dealing with the challenges of COVID-19. I’ve also used questions drawn from Accepted’s recent COVID MBA webinar, so my questions in this podcast, even more than usual, are really your questions, applicant questions, in an attempt to help you determine if you should apply for your MBA, and specifically if and when you should apply to the Ross MBA. But even if you're not applying to Ross, you’re going to find a lot of valuable insight in this episode. 

    Other than the health risks and inconveniences that we’re all dealing with, as admissions directors what are your concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on the MBA classes now at Ross and those considering the 2020 and 2021 application cycle? [2:31]

    Diana: This has taken up every meeting, every day right now, and we are regularly talking about both our students and our incoming students and doing everything we can to think about their needs and try to prioritize our planning accordingly. We meet regularly with the Dean’s office, whether myself or Soojin, to make sure that we’re in sync with their plans as they navigate and manage for the fall. Our Dean’s office has been great about doing regular t...

    • 35 min
    From Engineering PhD to Med Student

    From Engineering PhD to Med Student

    A career-changer's path to med school [Show summary]

    Valerie Fuchs holds a PhD in environmental engineering and spent eight years as a water resources engineer. This summer, however, she’ll start medical school. Hear how Valerie navigated med school admissions as an older, nontraditional applicant and got into her first-choice school.

    From engineering PhD to med student [Show notes]

    Are you an older, nontraditional potential med school applicant burned out on your profession? Are you thinking about medicine, but worried about starting over? Or are you just getting started?

    Valerie Fuchs earned her BS in civil engineering and her PhD in environmental engineering, and she did a postdoc fellowship at Yale. For the last eight years, she has worked as a water resources engineer. This summer, she is starting medical school.

    Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? [1:46]

    I grew up in Spokane, Washington. I am the oldest of five kids from a big Catholic family. I went to a Catholic grade school over there, and then moved on to Gonzaga University, not far from home. I always kind of had that interest in math and science, I guess, and had cousins who were engineers, and I thought, well, I'll try this out and see how it goes. I really got interested in civil engineering, soil and water science, and those kinds of things.

    I thought as I went through school that what I really wanted to do was be able to help people in terms of water and sanitation, developing communities in particular. The direction I ended up going in grad school was sanitation for developing communities, so wastewater treatment in Bolivia and other countries in South America. I did research and a whole doctoral dissertation on it. Then I kind of continued that, but I started looking at storm water when I was at Yale for a year before transitioning into consulting engineering. I've been a consultant for about 10 years now. I have moved all over the country. I did a lot of research and work in different countries in Central and South America. Then finally, about six years ago, I decided I wanted to be closer to family and move back to Seattle. I've been here ever since.

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    What made you start thinking that engineering isn't for you, and that medicine is? [3:47]

    A few years ago, I started feeling like even though engineering is a great intellectual challenge for me, I wanted to be engaging more with people. My day-to-day work as an engineer is mostly sitting at a computer, crunching numbers on different types of projects. I wanted to be really doing something more one-on-one with people, potentially helping them improve their life in some way.

    So, I started looking at a variety of different options. I considered teaching high school science. I looked at becoming a massage therapist. That was until August of 2016, when my mom became ill and then passed away of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. I spent about three weeks with her in the hospital and in hospice, and all stress aside, I found myself really intrigued by observing her care team, her neurologist and the interns that were helping. They were just so engaged with us, with her,

    • 26 min
    How the Esade MBA Program Aspires to Make a Positive Impact

    How the Esade MBA Program Aspires to Make a Positive Impact

    What does it mean to train "the best managers for the world?" [Show summary]

    Judith Puigbo, Associate Director of MBA Admissions, explores how to get into ESADE, a top MBA program based in Barcelona committed to doing good.

    Learn about ESADE's unique MBA program [Show notes]

    Judith Puigbo is the Associate Director of MBA Admissions at ESADE, responsible for MBA admissions in Switzerland and the Middle East. Let’s learn more directly from our guest.

    Can you give us an overview of ESADE's highly ranked full-time MBA program, focusing on what’s distinctive about it? [2:06]

    We were the first business school founded in Spain, in 1958. Spain was a very closed society, and we were always looking at what was going on in the U.S. So a group of entrepreneurs (well, now we called them entrepreneurs; in that period, we were calling them family businesses) thought, “Listen, we need to establish a management school, a business school here in Spain.” We had very good engineering schools and economics schools but not management.

    So that’s why a group of managers from family businesses decided to create a business school together with the Jesuits because they thought, “Well, we know about management. We have no idea about education.” So that’s why they wanted to partner with the Jesuits. (Georgetown in Washington, for example, was founded by Jesuits.) The Jesuits had a very large tradition of creating schools and universities all over the world, because they believe that it’s better to empower emerging countries through education rather than just doing charity. So that’s why they had the very large tradition of creating schools and universities.

    I know this is a very “grandma” story about where we come from, but it explains the DNA of the school. We were founded by entrepreneurs, so we have this entrepreneurial spirit, but also we were founded by the Jesuits, so we have this collaborative environment as well.

    And regarding the full-time MBA, I want you to remember the word “flexibility.” I think that’s one of the main assets, the flexibility of the program, because you can do it in 12, 15, or 18 months, and there are many moments in the year where you can tailor the experience through electives, language courses, student clubs, the career examination programs, different tracks, and study tours. So you can ask many people about their experiences, and they would all say something different because there are never two MBAs that are exactly the same. And of course our location is also an asset.

    How do you address potential concerns about Barcelona not being a major business hub (like London, New York, or Hong Kong) if you want to pursue business studies? [4:54]

    I don't agree totally with that because Barcelona is very well-known in the startup environment. For example, we have the Mobile World Congress every year here. (Not this year; it had to be postponed due to the situation.) But there are many startups here because it’s a location where it’s easy to attract talent. So it is an important hub for startups. Many technological companies also have a subsidiary here. It’s true that compared to Madrid, they would have more headquarters, big corporations. That’s true. But Barcelona has always had this entrepreneurial spirit.

    • 27 min
    A Physician’s Nontraditional Path from Law Enforcement to Medical School

    A Physician’s Nontraditional Path from Law Enforcement to Medical School

    Dr. Joe Bardinelli shares his journey from cop to doc [Show summary]

    Not everyone follows a traditional path to a career in medicine. Today’s guest, emergency physician Dr. Joe Bardinelli, was a police officer for six years before deciding to enter medical school. In this episode, he shares how and why he went from being a cop to being a doc.

    A physician's nontraditional path to med school [Show notes]

    Dr. Joe Bardinelli earned his bachelor’s in Criminal Justice at age 22 and for six years worked as a police officer. At 28, he started osteopathic medical school at Lincoln Memorial University and then pursued his residency in emergency medicine at Conemaugh Health System. Today, he’s an ER doctor in Florida.

    Can you tell us about your background outside of medicine? [1:48]

    I grew up in the South. I was born in Georgia. My dad moved around to several jobs while we were growing up. He changed careers a couple of times. That took us to the Carolinas and subsequently Tennessee, so I was there from high school on and went to East Tennessee State University for my bachelor’s degree there, and that’s where I ended up going into law enforcement in Kingsport. I stayed there more or less up until I started medical school, which was over in Harrogate. That’s about an hour north of Knoxville, probably an hour and a half from where I went to high school.


    Now we’re married. We started with one child, going into medical school, and then we had our fourth about two months into residency. We’ve got eight, six, five, and three now. We like to be outside; that’s why we moved down to Florida. We wanted to be near the water. We have no ties to the area down here. We just wanted to try something different, and we figured that if we were going to do it and make a big change that we might as well do it while the kids are young.

    Do you think your father’s ability to change careers influenced you? [3:08]

    It had a role in it, because he was a police officer as well. My grandfather was, and I think, ultimately, that’s probably why I ended up going into it because I felt like I needed to try it. He ended up getting out of law enforcement and went back to a school for neuro-diagnostics to do EEGs and other neurologic testing on the brain. While he was in that, it was right around middle school or high school, so that gave me the opportunity to go into the local hospital and volunteer.


    He worked closely with one of the local neurosurgeons there. At that time, it was much easier than it is now. I was able to go in and shadow surgeries and got to be around medicine more, so that’s kind of what sparked my interest. I knew in high school that I had an interest in it, but I still pursued law enforcement going into college just because I felt like I needed to. But I certainly don’t regret the decision.

    • 29 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
32 Ratings

32 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!

amy1689 ,

Good content dry interviewer

Content is great but I apologize, the interviewer is quite bad. Dry, cuts off the guest sometimes and jumps topics suddenly without letting the subject at hand finish.. hard to listen because of this.

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