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.
This London Business School MBA’s Startup Is Protecting Your Online Privacy
Can business school support an entrepreneurial venture? [Show summary]
James Chance, a 2019 London Business School MBA graduate, reveals how his experience at LBS impacted his path as an entrepreneur, along with how he’s transforming online privacy protection through his startup, yourself.online.
Learn how entrepreneur James Chance launched his start-up while at London Business School. [Show notes]
James Chance graduated from the University of Bristol in 2011 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He then worked as a strategy consultant for Accenture UK, until he joined Google in 2016. He earned his MBA at London Business School in 2019, which is where he also launched yourself.online, his startup. We're going to learn more about James's MBA path and experience, as well as about the launching of yourself.online and how it can help you maintain your privacy.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background, where you grew up, and what you like to do for fun? [2:03]
I grew up in Central London, not too far from the City, the financial district, right in the center, quite close to St. Paul's. That was a real eye-opener in terms of this very fast-paced world, and growing up, I was fortunate enough to, from that experience, see a lot of things, arts, culture, different businesses, all sorts of different stuff as a kid and as a teenager. When I reached the end of secondary school, then I decided I wanted to get out of London and go to the University of Bristol, as a change of scenery.
In terms of what I like to do for fun, I've always been really passionate about traveling. I was fortunate enough to have a few occasions where I've traveled for work and worked in different countries, the US, Australia. But then I’ve also done more adventurous travels as well. I was fortunate enough, with a friend of mine in 2011, after I graduated from college, to drive halfway around the world from London to Mongolia in a car we bought on eBay for just under a thousand dollars. It's an adventure called the Mongol Rally, which was great fun. And I've always been trying to find those sorts of, not quite as adventurous, but trips that are a little bit off the beaten track. But unfortunately that's all on hold this year, but big plans for next year, hopefully. Next year, post-pandemic, I'd really like to do more of South America, since it's not really somewhere I've explored much. I'd really like to do some of the Argentina, Brazil, bits of Peru as well.
You worked as a strategy consultant for Accenture for almost four years, then for Google as an analytical consultant, and also in e-commerce for a family business in Norway. With all these different experiences, why did you decide you wanted or needed an MBA? [3:50]
I first started to think about doing an MBA when I was in consulting. This is something throughout, really: I had come into business coming from an engineering background, so coming from a technical background, where my quantitative skills and analytical skills were good, but I didn't have that much grounding in terms of finance, management, stuff like that. And I was fine for probably, I would say, the first few years of my career. But I found when I was at Google,
What Med School Applicants Must Know About Johns Hopkins
Learn what the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine adcom looks for in applicants [Show summary]
Paul White, Assistant Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, dispels common misconceptions about the program and explains what applicants can expect from an admissions process altered by COVID-19.
What makes Johns Hopkins School of Medicine unique, and how can YOU show your fit? [Show notes]
Do you want to know how to get into Johns Hopkins School of Medicine? Are you wondering what its curriculum is really like, and how it has adapted to COVID? Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s Assistant Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs is here with answers.
Before arriving at Johns Hopkins, Paul White attended Yale for undergrad and Georgetown for his law degree. He has worked in admissions, both undergrad and med, since 1979. Since 2012, he has served the applicant community as the Assistant Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs at Johns Hopkins and made a previous appearance on Admissions Straight Talk in 2016.
Can we start out with an overview of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine program, focusing on its distinctive elements? [1:50]
Johns Hopkins has a wonderful educational program. Hopkins is one of the schools that really pioneered prerequisites for medical school, and the Flexner Report, which came out in 1910, said Hopkins was one of the schools that did it right, and we've never sat on our laurels. So we're always asking, are we keeping current? Are we teaching students what they need to know to work with patients? A few years ago, easily 12 years ago now, Hopkins completely revised its curriculum to focus more on the social determinants of disease.
We incorporate that throughout the curriculum when our students come to Hopkins. You have a course that begins right after orientation that focuses on healthcare disparities. There are several intersession courses you'll have between major components, like anatomy and so forth. But the very first one focuses on healthcare disparities and brings in someone from the community who talks about their issues, and so forth. We also have our students do an ambulatory longitudinal clerkship later in their first year, which gets them out into the community and working alongside a physician who works with patients from underserved populations.
Continuing with that, we integrate, throughout the curriculum, the social sciences, ethics, public health, and interprofessional education. We give our students opportunities to do research. Many of them have already had research prior to coming to Hopkins. Although it's not required, I would say easily 95 or 96% have had research prior to their matriculation. But by the time they graduate from Hopkins, easily 99% will have research, and nearly 99% will have a publication by the time they graduate from Hopkins. So that has really strengthened the profile of our students, which was pretty strong to begin with, but it has really made students that much more attuned to what's going on in the world and ready to address it using scientific methodology.
MBA Life at UC Berkeley Haas, From Its New Executive Director of Admissions
Learn what's new at Berkeley Haas, as well as tips for crafting admissions-worthy applications. [Show summary]
Eric Askins, the newly appointed Executive Director of Admissions at UC Berkeley Haas, explores the school’s full-time MBA program and its admissions policies, as well as how it’s adapting the MBA experience to COVID-19.
Interested in applying to Berkeley Haas? Read on for info about special programs and application advice. [Show notes]
UC Berkeley Haas has a new Executive Director of Admissions: Eric Askins, formerly Haas’s Senior Associate Director of Admissions. He’s here today to explore Haas’s full-time MBA program, as well as how the school is adapting to COVID-19.
Can you give an overview of the Berkeley Haas full-time MBA program for those listeners who aren't that familiar with it and focus on its more distinctive elements? [2:37]
The first place to start is our location. Based in the San Francisco Bay area, our program is incredibly close to the center of innovation that exists out here. I think some of that is probably evident if you look at our outcomes. Berkeley Haas has graduates in tech. About 15 to 20% of our students each year are going into startups. But if you were to ask us for the most defining feature of our program, it's likely our defining leadership principles (Question the status quo. Confidence without attitude. Students always. Beyond yourself.). It's a set of culture-forward initiatives that we have here, about 10 years old now, that really hold our core values up-front. You'll find, I think, very few programs that lead with values, and we're certainly one of them.
What's new at Berkeley Haas (other than lockdown, the pandemic, and smoky air)? [4:08]
Certainly, all of those things are new, and they are challenges. But there's a silver lining in there too. Let's talk about some of our academic programs first. Chief among the things that we launched in pilot mode last year that are truly new this year are a joint degree with our school of engineering, an MBA/MEng program. This program is two years, so no additional time. It is a cohort model that is part of the MBA cohort, so it doesn't operate separately, which is really a great opportunity to continue to stay connected with the broader community here at Haas. Additionally, the students select from among seven different engineering programs to really give you that niche opportunity that you might be seeking and give you the skills that you need to take advantage of some of the great opportunities that exist in the career world.
You can go, let's say, into electrical engineering/MBA, artificial intelligence/MBA, all kinds of different engineering specialties, including nuclear engineering, if that's what you're looking for. Chemical engineering. We took a nuclear engineer this year. This program launched in pilot mode last year. We didn't recruit heavily for it. We simply listed it on our website. We are beginning to look at expanding it. We now have a cohort of about 30 students, 15 in each class here. There is a community.
Facing Adversity as a Med School Applicant
M2 Sotonye Douglas shares how she never lost sight of her dream to become a doctor. [Show summary]
Sotonye Douglas describes herself as an “imperfect” medical school applicant who nevertheless became a student at Quinnipiac Netter School of Medicine, overcoming tremendous barriers in the process.
An "imperfect" applicant discusses her path to medical school. [Show notes]
There's a myth out there that med students never fail, never drop a class, and all have high MCATs and GPAs. They're perfect. Or they don't get in.
Our guest today is determined and hardworking, but she has also overcome significant challenges on the way to medical school. She doesn't fit the myth of the perfect med student, but she is nevertheless a proud M2.
Sotonye Douglas is a second year MD student at Quinnipiac Netter School of Medicine. She was born to immigrant parents from Jamaica and Nigeria and grew up in Brooklyn in New York City. From a young age, she wanted to be a doctor, but working her way through high school and college made it hard to get good grades, much less prep for the MCAT. Yet today, she is an M2. Let's hear her story of hard work, perseverance, and tremendous determination directly from her.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your background outside of medicine? When did you start working? What do you like to do for fun? [1:59]
To go back in time a little bit, I did start working when I was in high school. I was working, but I was also student body president. I was also a cheerleader. I was very, very busy even then. I think that's when I started learning how to multitask. That's what kicked it off in high school: me learning how to be professional and how to juggle and how to run from one thing to the next. But for fun, I like to spend time with family and loved ones when I can because I do have a lot of family internationally. I love visiting family and trying to get away and travel. That's my release.
How did you figure out that you wanted to be a doctor? [2:56]
From a very young age, I found this interest in science. It just seemed so interesting to me. I also speak about having a very deep and robust interest in art. As a kid, when people would ask me, I would say, "Oh, I want to be a doctor." But as I started to get older and as I got into junior high school, I had this opportunity: There's this program that is no longer in New York City called the Gifted Program. It was for students who were talented and gifted, basically students that were performing higher on exams and stuff. They had special classes and things worked into our schedule. I had the opportunity to be exposed to a Saturday program for anatomy, and there were models and stuff. They brought different organs. And I had never seen any of that before. I knew what organs were, I knew what a heart was, I knew what a brain was. I knew what these things were, but I had never seen models. I would have been around 11 or 12. And seeing the models, they reminded me of sculptures. The arteries are in red; the veins are in blue. It was seeing the vibrancy and real organs. Since being in anatomy lab, I know that that's not actually what it looks like, at least in anatomy lab, but just seeing it at that age, it caught my attention because it reminded me of a sculpture.
An Insider’s Look at MBA Admissions
How can MBA hopefuls- especially those who are members of special applicant groups- best position themselves for acceptance? [Show summary]
A valued and recent addition to Accepted’s staff, Dr. Christie St-John reveals what her career as an admissions director taught her about applying to business school (particularly for veterans, international students, and those from underrepresented groups), plus what’s ahead for the future of MBA programs.
MBA admissions advice from an admissions insider [Show notes]
Previously, Dr. Christie St-John was a guest on our chats as Associate Director of Admissions for Tuck, and more recently on Admissions Straight Talk as director of Vanderbilt Owen’s MBA Recruiting and Admissions. Now, this MBA admissions veteran just joined Accepted as an MBA and Graduate Admissions Consultant. Today, I'm going to speak with her about MBA admissions and graduate admissions in general, as well as specific subgroups, including veterans, international students, and underrepresented groups. I'm also going to get her insight into the impact of COVID and business schools going test-optional.
How did you get into Admissions? [2:10]
It was one of those peculiar things about who you know and being at the right place at the right time. I was doing my PhD at Vanderbilt and a friend of mine in the Spanish department had been recruited to the business school to run their program that they were doing in Latin America. When she was promoted to do that, she called me and said, "They're looking for somebody to fill my former job with exchange programs, and they want somebody with international experience, and you'd be perfect." And I thought, the business school, really? I was on my way to becoming a university professor of languages.
So I went over and talked with them. I convinced them that I knew the difference between Saks Fifth Avenue and Goldman Sachs. I had worked in the business world before I went back to school and in the U.S. and in Europe. It was not like business was a strange thing to me, but I'd never really known this kind of job was available. Had I known, I would've started it years ago because I had only been in the position at Vanderbilt about a week, and the Dean came down to me and said, "Okay, you're going to go to Miami with Lori on Friday, and then you're going to South America for a month." I said, "Okay, let me just dust off my passport and I'll be ready to go.”
That was the start of it. It's been the most fun job I've ever had. It’s almost like not really working, although it is; it's tiring, going through all the time zones. There's a lot of work to do, but it's been great because I love getting to know all the students and seeing where they're from and being able to talk to them about, "Yes, I've been to Delhi." "Yes, I've been to Seoul" or wherever it might be. That helps, I think, create a rapport with them.
You have a wealth of experience in MBA and grad admissions. How do you feel about moving to the other side of the admissions desk? [4:30]
As you know, when I was at Tuck,
An International Student’s Experience at Harvard Medical School
Azan Virji discusses his path to Harvard Medical School, and challenges faced by international medical students [Show summary]
Med student Azan Virji explores the unique challenges he faced as an international student applying to Harvard Medical School, as well as his mission to mentor students like himself through the organization he founded, F-1 Doctors.
F1-Doctors: A virtual community connecting international medical school applicants with mentors who are current international students [Show notes]
Our guest today is Azan Virji. Azan grew up in Tanzania and came to the U.S. as a student at Yale University, where he studied molecular, cellular, and developmental biology and was a Yale Global Health Scholar. He earned his MPH in 2019, also from Yale, and then went on to begin his medical studies at Harvard in 2019. Knowing all too well the difficulties facing international applicants to U.S. medical schools, which were exacerbated by the corona pandemic and visa policy changes, Azan founded F-1 Doctors in May 2020. Its mission is to provide a network of international medical students, dental students, residents, and attendings to international applicants who are struggling to pursue their med school dreams.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background? [2:21]
I was born in Kenya, which is neighboring Tanzania, but then I grew up in Tanzania because my mom is from Kenya and my dad is from Tanzania. I think of myself as an East African baby, and I went to high school there as well. I spent 18 years of my life there and went to high school in Mwanza, Tanzania. It was a pretty small high school; my graduating class at the end was almost 24 students. In school, I was the person who would always volunteer to do things. I was always really interested in leadership activities and getting leadership experiences. I was what we called the Head Boy at the time. It's based on the British curriculum, where you're basically the link between the students and the faculty. And then I was also a really big theater nerd. I used to do plays regularly and used to sing a lot. On top of all of that, I was really hard working. I wanted to focus on academics and really wanted to do good in school.
Then, I applied to colleges, mostly here in the United States. The reason for that was twofold. I think it's pretty obvious that some of the best institutions of higher learning are here in the United States. Some of the world-class research happens here, and I really wanted to be a part of that environment. But on top of that, I also come from a very low-income background. I'm a first generation, low-income student, and I really needed financial support to attend a place of higher learning. It's something that I couldn't afford on my own. And in the United States, particularly, a lot of colleges here do have a lot of generous financial aid packages that they offer to attract international students from the rest of the world. I got a great financial aid package to attend Yale. That's how I finally found myself, after never having left East Africa, in the US for the very first time, almost six years ago now.
It was definitely quite a cultural shock in the be...
Customer ReviewsSee All
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!
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!
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.