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.
MCAT Veteran Teaches You How to Prepare for Your Test
What factors should you consider when deciding how to prepare for the MCAT? [Show summary]
Our guest today has been providing MCAT prep for just under 30 years and he's going to share his best MCAT prep advice with you!
The Berkeley Review’s CEO, Todd Bennett, shares his best MCAT prep advice [Show notes]
Our guest today is Todd Bennett, whom I met many, many years ago. He is the CEO of and an MCAT instructor at The Berkeley Review, which he co-founded in 1992. Todd, welcome to Admissions Straight Talk!
How did you get involved in MCAT prep many moons ago? [1:22]
So much of life is serendipity. So, way back in 1988, I had a job teaching organic chemistry as an adjunct lecturer at UC Irvine. And one summer there was nothing to teach and realizing that, hey, I need money for rent, I went to the job listing on campus. And there was an interesting offer tutoring chemistry and physics to postbac students trying to get into med school, a bridge program through Dave Hacker and Charles Gipson. I signed up for it and fell in love with it - greatest teaching job in the world; motivated students, smart, dedicated, and best of all from a teaching standpoint, no grading. You were purely on their side in working their way through it. So that summer I wrote up notes and practice questions and put together a pretty good booklet, and without even noticing it, it became kind of an underground sensation around UC Irvine and then Southern California. And somebody in San Diego got wind of it, who ran an SAT company and said, "Hey, what do you think about doing MCAT?"
And so, we started something called Hyper Learning at the time. It ends up that the people I was with, honestly, I don't think one of them had any interest other than making a quick company, selling it, another quick company, and selling it. And so, it was on the selling block immediately and I thought, "No, no, I like what I'm doing. I don't want to switch." And so in 1992 we started The Berkeley Review, grabbed one of the bio teachers, a physics teacher I knew, and just went for it. Amazingly, it just shot off like wildfire. I mean, at the time it was just really needed.
Do you want to bring us up to date a little bit in terms of what's been happening with The Berkeley Review? [3:03]
We change with each test. So since we started, there've been three changes in the test, and each one's brought a new challenge. I mean, I know this is probably blasphemous to say, because it's stressful for a lot of people, but the MCATs are a really well-written and well thought-out test. You can reason your way through it, and it really does test pertinent skills in analyzing data material and getting you to work well with things you maybe don't familiarize with at first. And in time you realize, "Hey, I get this. This is simple.”
We continue to do classes. COVID forced us to go online. We were very antiquated for many years and got up to speed, and I realized our fear of going online had a lot to do with losing the personal touch. Knowing each person individually has been key.
How to Respond to a Rejection
How to Respond to a Rejection [Show summary]
Admissions guru Linda Abraham highlights four reasons that could cause a rejection and offers concrete, practical suggestions for moving forward.
How to Respond to a Rejection [Show notes]
Some of you are unfortunately facing a fistful of dings at the moment. Some of you haven't heard definitively. You are either in waitlist limbo, or just waiting to hear an answer, any answer, to your applications this year. But you know that rejection is still a distinct possibility. How can you respond to rejection? How should you respond to rejection?
Normally I like to be positive and upbeat, and I will get positive and upbeat a little later, but of course, rejection is something that applicants have to deal with. And it isn’t positive or upbeat. And therefore I want to deal with it in this podcast.
But before we get to the main topic, I want to mention that one of the challenges of admissions is showing that you both fit in at your target schools and stand out in the applicant pool. Accepted’s free download, Fitting In & Standing Out: The Paradox at the Heart of Admissions will show you how to do both. Master this paradox and you are well on your way to Accepted. Download the free guide.
Today's podcast episode is a solo show, and I’m going to give a little high-level encouragement and then get down to brass tacks advice on what you should do as you approach re-application if you choose to reapply.
Rejection reality [2:16]
Let's face it, I'm not Pollyanna: Rejection is disappointing. It's frustrating. Maybe a little embarrassing, because you told people you were applying.
Acknowledge those negative feelings, but don't wallow in them. Acknowledge them. You put a lot of effort into this year's application, you spent money, you invested time, you invested emotionally in this endeavor and you're disappointed. What can I tell you? It's legitimate. Some of you may feel that this is the end of the road for your particular career dream. Maybe you've applied before, maybe you find rejection to be a terrible blow.
Realize that rejection is disappointing. There's no question about it. Perfectly legitimate to feel that way. It is a setback but it is not a tragedy. No one has died, no blood has been spilled, no limbs have been lost, you haven't lost your livelihood or anything close to it.
What about my dreams and goals? [3:12]
You might respond to me and say, "But what about my dreams, my goals?!?!" I have two thoughts for you on that.
* You may not need to give up your dreams and goals. You may decide to reapply. We'll get into that and how to do that effectively later on in the podcast. You may apply to different schools or programs that are easier to get into, and that still support your goal. You may decide to a href="https://blog.accepted.
All About Becoming a Georgetown McDonough MBA
What every applicant to Georgetown McDonough should know [Show summary]
Shelly Heinrich, Associate Dean of MBA Admissions at Georgetown McDonough, explores what’s new with the school’s full-time and flex MBA programs and how applicants can stand out to the admissions committee.
Make your application to Georgetown McDonough shine! [Show notes]
Interested in an MBA focused on international business with rigorous academics and a supportive collaborative culture? Pull up a chair. Today's guest is the Dean of Admissions at Georgetown McDonough's MBA program, and it fits your bill perfectly.
Shelly Heinrich is Associate Dean of MBA Admissions and Director of Marketing at Georgetown's McDonough School of Business. Shelly has been leading Georgetown's admissions efforts since 2014 and became Associate Dean in 2017. She earned her BBA from Texas Christian University, her master's in educational administration from UT Austin, and her executive MBA from Georgetown McDonough.
Can you give us an overview of Georgetown's full-time and flex MBA programs for those listeners who aren't that familiar with these programs, and focus on their more distinctive elements? [2:13]
The great thing about our full-time and flex program is that they are both 54-credit degrees, and they both follow the same exact curriculum. You have the same access to the career center, which is unique sometimes for a part-time MBA, the same access to professors and the global consulting experience. The real difference is the timing and the format. The full-time MBA is a standard full-time MBA. It's 20 months with an internship the summer between year one and year two. Our flex MBA program, you can complete in two and a half to five years, really crafting your own schedule. If you want to take two to three classes at a time, you can speed it up. If you want to stretch it out, taking maybe one or two classes at a time, you can do that as well. With the flex MBA, you also have different course delivery options in order to make it more flexible. You can choose between electives that are on Saturday, that are in the evening, that are hybrid and also do more of our intensive learning experiences, the intense one-week electives to get an entire credit knocked out. You do have a little bit more flexibility. But in general, both are standard MBAs and when you graduate, your degree says “MBA.”
What's new at McDonough, other than the pandemic and the new reality that we're all dealing with? [3:35]
What I love so much about Georgetown and our Dean Almeida is his energy. Even while we were dealing with the pandemic, we were still continuing to forge ahead and launch the new initiatives that we had wanted to launch and then even launch some new ones. We launched in December our MBA advanced access program, which is our deferral program. We launched an MBA mentorship program, which is a mentorship program between alumni and MBA students to get professional mentorship and guidance. Our students launched a McDonough Talks podcast to give you the real story of what it's like to be a student.
A Dean’s Perspective on What Makes Great Physicians
Words of advice for premeds and medical school applicants [Show summary]
Dr. Sunny Nakae discusses CUSM’s approach to training the next generation of great physicians and shares wisdom from her book, Premed Prep: Advice from a Medical School Admissions Dean.
Are you curious about CUSM? Read on for info about this new program and for valuable tips for all medical school applicants [Show notes]
How do you prepare to become a physician? How do you prepare to apply to medical school? Our guest has written the book on the topic, after two decades in medical school admissions.
Today's guest, Dr. Sunny Nakae, is the Senior Associate Dean for Equity, Inclusion, Diversity, and Community Partnerships at the California University of Science and Medicine School of Medicine, one of the country's newer medical schools. Dr. Nakae earned her bachelor's and MSW from the University of Utah, and then her PhD in higher ed at Loyola University of Chicago. She started working in medical school admissions in 2006 as Director of Diversity at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine, moved to Loyola Stritch for six years as Assistant Dean for Admissions, Recruitment, and Student Life, and then another two years at UC Riverside, again as Associate Dean, and then last year joined CUSM as Senior Associate Dean for Equity, Inclusion, Diversity, and Community Partnerships. All that experience is reason enough to invite her to Admissions Straight Talk. However, I also want to discuss her fantastic book, Premed Prep: Advice from a Medical School Admissions Dean.
Can you give us an overview of the CUSM MD program, focusing on its more distinctive elements? [2:18]
California University of Science and Medicine School of Medicine is a community-based medical school. That means that we are really focused on training in a lot of different sites. We're focused on primary care. Our main affiliation is Arrowhead Regional, but we also have sites at St. Bernadine's and other places. We're in inland Southern California, so about 90 minutes/a little under two hours from the coast. It's a very underserved and economically divested region of California, so our goal is to produce more physicians that want to train in our region, and stay in our region, and take care of the people that live here. We have early clinical experiences, where students are placed with preceptors and clinics, outpatient settings, so they get very comfortable with outpatient and preventative care and ongoing clinical home settings.
Another distinctive element that we're developing is we've recently changed our service learning into something called Change. Students will have a similar placement with a community partner that they do on the clinical side through the Care program. Care and Change together are going to create this opportunity for students to actually learn about structural determinants of health, and what our director calls health adjacent services. It's a way for us to give back as a school, which is important for us. We want to make a departure from the typical pedagogical models that use a colonialist approach of, "We're going to come in and do what we want on our terms, and demand certain things of you, and impose our learning objectives on you, and then go away. And then a new group of students is going to come in and do the sam...
An MBA Success Story Reflects on His HBS Experience, 7 Years Later
How can an MBA degree help an entrepreneur? [Show summary]
Entrepreneur and Harvard Business School grad Ben Faw reflects on the value of his MBA and the role it played in his successful career.
Why this serial entrepreneur feels his time at HBS was invaluable [Show notes]
What happens to Harvard Business School MBAs after their first job? Do they still value the HBS MBA experience? Let's ask Ben Faw, who was a member of the HBS MBA class of 2014.
Ben Faw was previously a guest on Admissions Straight Talk way back in Episode 59, just about seven years ago. At that time, Ben had just graduated from HBS and was about to take a position with LinkedIn. Prior to attending HBS, Ben attended West Point as well as the US Army Ranger School, and served in Hawaii, Iraq, and Kuwait. What's happened since graduating from HBS? Let's find out from Ben.
When we last spoke, you were about to graduate from Harvard Business School and start a position at LinkedIn. What's happened since then? Bring us up to date. [1:53]
It's been a really interesting and exhilarating journey. There's been a couple of twists and turns. But to start with, LinkedIn was a super positive experience for me. I was able to get a lot of understanding around particularly technology and the digital advertising ecosystem and just a ton of exposure to what a top organization in the technology field can look like, and particularly what it takes to maintain a strong positive culture. As you know, none of these cultures come for free. They’re something you build and then have to maintain, and you’ve got to see all of that.
Then, I had worked with a classmate of mine from business school on a startup project that got to the point where I could actually join full-time in the fall of 2015, about a year and a half after business school. That company, BestReviews, ended up growing quickly. We sold that in early 2018 to Tribune Publishing, which has published the Chicago Tribune and several other newspapers, for over a hundred million. I was fortunate enough to be able to help a lot with that integration, got a little bit of knowledge around the newspaper world, and transitioned to an advisory role there.
I have built out a new software company called AdVon Commerce, leveraging a lot of the insights and perspectives from working in that e-commerce and digital marketing world. I got married at the very end of 2019, which proved fortuitous given the situation that unfolded in 2020.
Do you feel like you're still using your MBA degree, either the network or the education, looking back on the experience? [3:54]
I personally believe, and the data would prove it out, that I use almost every aspect of the MBA every single day of the week. And that includes Saturday and Sunday. I don't always work all of those days, but for me, it's the network that is used almost every single day for me, certainly multiple days per week in one capacity or another directly, and then indirectly in the lessons and insights from the network every day. The skills and perspectives are an everyday occurrence for ...
How an Orthopedic Surgeon Survived and Thrived in Med School
Achieving balance: A resident's advice for succeeding in medical school without sacrificing your personal life [Show summary]
Dr. Wendell Cole, a Morehouse graduate and orthopedic surgical resident at Tulane, shares the personal experiences and med school survival strategies that led him to write The Med School Survival Kit.
How planning and time management pave the way towards greater academic success and personal fulfillment [Show notes]
Have you been accepted to medical school this cycle? Congratulations! Are you still hoping to be accepted this cycle? Are you planning ahead for next cycle? Today's guest is going to discuss his path in med school, as well as how you can excel in medical school while enjoying the experience.
Dr. Wendell Cole graduated with a degree in biology and medical virology from Georgia State University in 2014. He attended Morehouse School of Medicine and graduated in 2018, at the age of 24. He has been an orthopedic surgical resident at Tulane University School of Medicine and will complete his residency in 2023. He published The Med School Survival Kit: How To Breeze Through Med School While Crushing Your Exams in 2018 as he graduated med school.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? [2:03]
I am a first generation son of immigrants. My mom and my father are both from the Caribbean. They immigrated here in the '90s or '80s and had me. I was born in New York, and I moved around a lot, and I ended up spending most of my time in Georgia. Marietta, Georgia is where I spent most of my time. Then Atlanta, Georgia is where I spent the majority of undergrad and med school. Most of my life has been in Georgia.
Growing up, nobody really did medicine before me. There weren't any other doctors or anything else like that in the family. I liked sports a lot growing up, and I started playing sports in high school. I played football, and I ran track. Another thing that I started enjoying in high school was actually a TV show called House. They have a lot of different seasons, but it's an intriguing show on medicine. That combination of the two piqued my interest in medicine. I always liked science stuff, and I always liked sports. I thought, well, what's something I can do to combine the two? So I went through undergrad thinking I was going to do something sciency, but again, I watched House all the time, so I can say that heavily influenced me going towards the field of medicine, like sports. That brought me towards orthopedics. I kind of knew it was something I wanted to do.
I also injured myself and had to have surgery when I was in college as well, so it wasn't just House. I had personal injuries. When I was in college, I actually tore my ACL just horsing around, not even doing a professional sport. The thing that took me with that is that beforehand, I expressed my emotions by working out. I wasn't able to work out, so I felt a part of me was missing, I guess, for a lack of better terms. Long story short, I ended up getting an ACL reconstructed, being able to run again, do sports. That kind of birthed my interest and gave me that form of self-expression back. That's one of the reasons why I wanted to do orthopedics.
What was the hardest part of the medical school application process for you? [4:42]
Very informative— A must listen
I first tuned in on the episode All About Duke’s Top-Ranked PA Program. There was various information presented that reached a good depth of understanding. Since that episode I have cycled back through other episodes and tune in on my daily commute to work. Thank you for sharing this knowledge!
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!
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