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Helpful Graduate Application Resources
Dear NSCS Members, AdmissionsConsultants, Inc., global providers of graduate and professional school admissions services, is delighted to announce our NSCS corporate partnership. We applaud you for your hard work and commitment to obtaining your highest academic potential. For those of you considering a further degree, these are exciting times in graduate school developments. With the increased number of applications both in the United States and Europe, admissions officers must look beyond the test scores, stellar resumes, and academic honors and achievements. All of these factors have raised the bar for high achieving, talented, ambitious, and motivated candidates. As our valued partner, AdmissionsConsultants offers NCSC members 10% off our regular fees. We also encourage you to take advantage of our campus workshops, learn more about our services, and avail yourself of our helpful resources. To begin your research, please review the attached articles. In addition, we have a feature content library, blog, and monthly newsletter located on our website. We are all excited about the upcoming admission seasons, and we welcome any questions that you may have as you prepare your applications. To reach our office, please call 703.242.5885, or visit us online at http://www.admissionsconsultants.com/nscs.asp. We look forward to providing you with personalized assistance. Kind Regards,
Maria Cvitkovic Client Satisfaction Manager
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Resource Guide The Graduate School Admissions Process
Table of Contents
Law School Admissions
• Early Admissions Option Can Benefit Law Applicants • Off the Bubble and Into Your Target School
p. 1 p. 2
• Quality Beats Quantitiy in Choosing Extracurriculars
Medical School Admissions
p. 3 p. 4
• Advice and Tips for Premeds
• Undergraduate Institutions and MBA Admissions • The MBA Admissions Interview - Why Is It Important?
p. 5 p. 6
General Graduate School Admissions
• Letters of Recommendation • Making Your Personal Statement Connect • A Dual Degree - Is It Right For You?
p. 7 p. 9 p. 10
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Contributed by Senior Consultant Derek Meeker
Derek holds a J.D. from Capital University and studied comparative law at Oxford University. Before becoming Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Penn Law, he was assistant director of admissions at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, MN. He also served as an assistant attorney general in Ohio, where he represented universities and state agencies in employment litigation. At Penn Law, Meeker was the final decision maker on more than 21,000 applications and has been credited with numerous improvements in the law school's admissions process.
Early Admissions Option Can Benefit Law Applicants
Several top law schools, including the New York University School of Law and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, have recently added binding Early Decision programs to their admissions options, notes Senior Consultant Derek Meeker. These programs can benefit applicants who use them – even those who are not admitted on the basis of an early application. As admissions officials point out, binding Early Decision and non-binding Early Action programs give applicants earlier notification of their admissions outcomes. Students know by December whether they have been admitted to a law class convening the following fall. That extra notice is important for applicants who will be leaving a full-time job to attend law school, or who will be combining law school with family responsibilities. But even applicants who do not receive an admissions offer in the ED round can gain from the experience, says Derek. "If an applicant who applies early is placed on 'hold' – i.e., deferred to the regular admission applicant pool for further review – this is a signal that the school was interested enough in the applicant to keep him or her in the pool," says Derek. "That gives the applicant an opportunity to take a step back, 're-review' the application he or she submitted, and think about what he or she might send the school to supplement the application.
"If an applicant is rejected through an early admission program, it may be an indicator that he or she needs to cast the net a bit more widely and apply to additional schools that are more within his or her reach." - Senior Consultant, Derek Meeker
Derek reminds applicants to look carefully at the conditions of a particular school's early admissions program before deciding whether to apply to it. "Different schools have different guidelines," he says. "Be especially careful to check whether or not the program is binding, meaning that you promise up front to attend the school if it accepts you. "Be warned that, in the world of admissions, 'binding' means 'binding.' When you apply early, your application includes a signed statement saying you will attend the school if you are accepted. The school will expect you to honor that commitment. You don't want to start off your legal career by reneging on a signed agreement. "Obviously, this means that binding ED programs might be valuable if you're absolutely sure you want to attend a specific school, but they're not the right choice if you prefer to keep your options open."
Contributed by Senior Consultant Michael Machen
Michael B. Machen has a JD from the University of Michigan. Michael was the Director of Financial Aid and a key admissions and recruiting officer for the University of Chicago Law School from 2002 to 2007. While there, he reviewed more than 9,000 law school applications. He also oversaw the school’s transfer application process, revamped the Loan Repayment Assistance Program, and created a new public-interest focused scholarship program. Before joining Chicago, Michael was an associate with a Chicago law firm where he focused on mergers and acquisitions, as well as venture capital transactions.
Off the Bubble and Into Your Target School
You've narrowed down your list of target schools and have begun preparing your application. You've got the LSAT coming up and have lined up your recommendations. So do you think you've got what it takes to get in? Or will you end up on the bubble? "A 'bubble' applicant is someone who is on the cusp of being either admitted or denied," says Michael Machen, a former admissions officer from the University of Chicago. "They are either not quite strong enough to be admitted, or they're just strong enough to be waitlisted, rather than denied." The goal of a bubble applicant is to be on the good side of the bubble: being admitted if your application is not the strongest, or getting on the waitlist instead of being denied straight away if your profile is below their standards. So what exactly is the profile of a bubble applicant? There are three solid indicators, according to Michael. "If your LSAT/GPA is in the middle range of the school you're applying to and those scores aren't comfortably above the median," he says, "that's a good indicator. Also, 'mixed' scores - such as a high LSAT with a low GPA, or vice versa - is also a 'bubble flag.'" Finally, if your 'soft' application materials such as your essay, resume and recommendations are not particularly strong, then chances are good you'll end up on the bubble with the admissions committees. "They don't occur with any obvious frequency in regards to what round you're in," Michael comments. It mainly depends on those indicators and how they stack up against the current applicant pool. Michael does warn that later in the cycle, "it gets tougher to stay in the game and not get denied straight away." Michael did tell us that there are some things an applicant can do to avoid being on the bubble and more firmly in the realm of consideration. "You need to show the extra effort, personality, enthusiasm and interest in the school you're trying for," he says. "If your numbers are only average for the school, then you have to demonstrate that you're going to be the nicest, happiest, most involved student they have in the class." Communicating that an applicant is especially interested in that particular school is key. "Try to let them know that you are just dying to go there, and that you would definitely accept if they admit you." Applicants can avoid the bubble by making sure their application is as comprehensive as can be, and tailored to the school. "Make sure your application is as strong as possible for the particular school you're applying to." Michael notes that "applications are becoming more and more customized, so schools are seeing more school-specific essays, recommendation letters and additional materials that help the committees consider every aspect of the application in the light most favorable to the applicant, and put your application over the top." The larger the applicant pool, the greater amount of bubble candidates. Michael notes that schools with large and competitive pools will have a larger number of 'maybe' students. "Schools like Harvard and Yale - who have rigorous standards and thousands of very strong applicants - can be very choosy to the point that any flaw in an application can put you in the 'bubble' category." And if you find yourself on the bubble by being put on 'Hold' or 'Waitlist' status? "It's important to continue to show interest and submit whatever you can to address the weaknesses in your application," Michael notes. "Additional essays, recommendation letters, updated resumes or transcripts whatever you can do to politely convince them you're a great fit" can increase your chances of getting off the bubble - and being admitted.
About Our Consultants…
First-Hand Expertise: All of our consultants have firsthand medical school admissions committee experience. They know “the other side” of the admissions process – what AAMC accredited medical schools are looking for as they review applications, where they look for it, and how the content and presentation of an application determines whether an applicant is accepted, waitlisted, or rejected. Collective Knowledge Base: Different schools have different standards. No one person can possibly know them all. Our consultants’ collective experience covers the full range of accredited U.S. M.S. programs. Our consultants share their knowledge and insights with each other – meaning that your application benefits not only from your consultant’s own expertise, but from the collective wisdom of a consultant network that has made, literally, over 50,000 accept/reject/waitlist decisions. Current Knowledge Base: Our consultants keep up to date on admissions trends at medical schools through contacts with former admissions colleagues. We also constantly cull information from dozens of medical school admissions officers, and share what we learn with our consultants and clients.
Quality Beats Quantity in Choosing the Extracurriculars to Highlight in Applications
Although most medical school applicants realize that extracurricular and volunteer activities can play a decisive role in their admissions outcomes, many of them don't really understand what admissions committees are looking for when they review a candidate's activities record, says Senior Consultant Wesley Hsu, M.D. One common misperception is 'the more, the better.' That notion can drive a pre-med into signing up for an unmanageable number of activities, to the point that they endanger their grades because they are devoting so much time to clubs and volunteer work. But the reality, says Wesley, is that admissions committees care more about the quality of extracurricular activities than they do about the quantity. "They know that people accomplish so much more when they pursue activities that are truly meaningful to them, rather than grinding through activities just to build a CV," says Wesley. "Applicants often ask me, 'What sort of activities do I need to get on my resume to get into medical school?' But a better question to ask is, 'How can I turn my personal interests and goals into concrete activities that will both help me get into medical school – AND, perhaps more importantly, allow me to have a great time doing them?'" Those activities do not always have to be directly linked to health care, says Wesley. "While I was on the admissions committee at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, some of the most impressive applicants we saw were people who combined their personal interests in fields like music, computers, and athletics into meaningful activities," he says. "The most impressive candidate I ever saw was a gentleman who focused his love for computers on community service projects that set up computer labs in inner city neighborhoods and third-world countries. The applicant clearly pursued these activities for the love of it – not just to build his resume. This example of leadership, energy, and entrepreneurship is worthy of emulation by other applicants."
Advice and Tips for Premeds
Wait until your senior year to take the most difficult classes required for graduation as well as any optional science classes that will Not all premed advisors are created equal. If you help prepare you for medical school. That are not happy with your advisor, see if you can way, those grades will not affect the GPA discretely (and tactfully) switch. Many advisors' that medical school admissions committees only training consists of reading a pamphlet desee. scribing the required courses. A good advisor will go beyond that to advise you on which order to take the courses in, and many on additional Part-time Jobs items.
Our consultants will be glad to act as competent premed advisors and conduct pre admission consultations with you. We generally spend 1 to 2 hours per year with each of our pre admissions clients, during which we cover positioning issues such as course selection, extracurricular activities, and work experience.
You may be tempted to volunteer in a hospital one night a week during your freshman year. However, it is wiser to stay focused on your course work. After completing your freshman year, though, you should consider part-time employment that shows you can manage your time and get along well with others. A job in a hospital or doctor's office is ideal.
Not only can such experience boost a borderline application, but it can also provide a letter of rec• Hard work, motivation, and dedication are what ommendation. Most importantly, the job can alreally matter. Most medical school graduates will low you an opportunity to reexamine your desire to attend medical school. tell you that their class work was not really that cerebral. It was just extremely voluminous. (The average SAT score of a medical school student Extracurricular Activities is not much higher than the average SAT score of a college student.) Extracurricular activities can persuade medical schools that you are genuinely concerned about • Never CLEP out of an introductory science others and that you have good interpersonal course. If you take a more advanced course, you skills – critical qualities for any aspiring doctor. will only wind up competing against sophomores Pursue extracurricular activities that you genuand juniors with superior studying skills. Worse, inely enjoy. This genuine enjoyment will come you may find out that your high school AP class through in your applications. The only stipulation didn't cover the introductory class material as is to avoid activities that require too much of well as your high school teachers said it did. your time. Toastmasters, debate teams, premed and science clubs, and intramural sports are all • If possible, audit a demanding science course very helpful in managing your work/life balance such as organic chemistry over the summer at a and increasing your medical school admissions nearby university. chances. • Take science classes beyond what is required of you (usually inorganic and organic chemistry, biology, and physics) only if you believe it will raise your sophomore and junior year science GPA.
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Contributed by Senior Consultant Mindy Oakley
Mindy graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was a student member of the Admissions Committee and made approximately 20 accept/reject/waitlist decisions per week. Since graduating from Wharton, Mindy has continued to be active as an alumni interviewer for the school and she also served as a peer reviewer for business school applicants while working for Mercer Management Consultants, her first post-MBA employer.
Undergraduate Institutions and MBA Admissions
Business school applicants often ask us whether the name of the college that awarded their undergraduate degree can hurt their MBA admissions chances. In other words, will an admissions committee think less of someone who attended a state university instead of Harvard or Yale? We put that question to Admissions Consultant Mindy Oakley. This is what she told us: "The reputation of an applicant's undergraduate institution isn't nearly as important in the MBA admissions process as most applicants think.
"In my experience, what matters more are how well an applicant can answer two questions: "One - why was the undergraduate institution selected? "And, two - how did the applicant make the most of the experience?” - Senior Consultant Mindy Oakley
"The MBA admissions process isn't about weeding out people who don't have the best perceived pedigree. It's about identifying people who have stood out from their peers, taken on leadership roles, and made the most of every opportunity. "Take the time in your application to articulate why you chose the specific undergraduate institution that you attended. Don't apologize if you don't think it's 'good enough,' but do explain what your decision process was. Then spend time highlighting your success stories from undergrad and showing how your undergrad experience has helped shape your career decisions and path to date."
Undergrad Record Outweighs Institution
“This is another ‘urban legend’ that, unfortunately, continues to propagate itself. There is an ounce -- and only an ounce -- of truth which is the admissions officers know grade inflation can be a bit rampant at some schools and therefore a 3.3 from a top-tier undergrad may be viewed similarly to a 3.5 in the same major from a lesser-known school. If you are looking at statistics that show a large number of applicants to the top schools come from Ivy League undergrads, bear in mind these two points: 1. These schools tend to attract a disproportionate amount of talented overachievers. 2. The ‘feeder companies’ for the top b-schools (think the top consulting firms and investment banks) tend to recruit at these schools. If you have the same GMAT, GPA, extracurriculars, and work experience as another applicant and the only difference is that you went to Blank State U and the other applicant attended, say, Princeton, you would both have the same chance of being admitted to a top b-school. We have seen this time and time again with our own clients,” says AC President, David Petersam.
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Contributed by Senior Consultant Meg Manderson Meg is a former Associate Director of Admissions for M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management for five years, where she made thousands of admissions decisions for the school. In addition, she has nearly thirty years of experience in education, hospital administration and psychology, working in the Boston area in such roles as an outpatient therapist, administrative director for the Inpatient Pedi-Psych Unit at UMass Medical Center, and marketing manager for M.I.T.’s summer professional programs.
The MBA Admissions Interview Why Is It Important?
So you've submitted your application in to the bschool of your choice. What now? Well, it's all in the admissions committee's hands. They'll conduct a preliminary screening based on your GMAT score, your GPA, and a quick overview of your application. If you meet a predetermined "cutoff," you'll be invited to a personal interview so that your suitability for the school can be probed. This personal interview is a critical step in the process - most high-ranking schools (especially HBS, Wharton, Columbia, Cornell and Tuck) will not accept a candidate without having met you in person first. Why? They want to assess your overall marketability against other potential candidates. It's also to aggressively recruit those candidates they find truly outstanding and possibly woo them from other competitive schools. And the interview is also an opportunity for the school to market and promote its own programs. those individuals who are so dynamic and who possess the academic prowess and personal strengths that a successful and effective leader has. "What is often looked for in the interview is that indefinable 'star quality' that separates you from the rest of the dynamic leaders who've also applied," comments Meg. The interview is your opportunity to "step out of the pack and demonstrate your managerial and executive potential."
Consultant Meg Manderson says that a school that sends an interview invite is - Meg Manderson "indicating their The interview is also interest in you an opportunity for the school to question you as a candidate and wish to further assess you in about the finer points of your application; your person." An applicant receiving the invitation is autobiographical sketch, your essay answers, assured they are past the initial screening – transcript issues and/or GMAT scores. However, though it does not guarantee admission to the its primary purpose is to screen out those applischool by any means. The interview allows the cants who don't fit the profile of the ideal candischool - through the interviewer - to determine if your interpersonal skills are as good as your aca- date and distinguish those from applicants who are well-suited for top-level management. Your demic ones. interviewer is interested in learning who you are as a person and how well you communicate your So is it really important? values, and how you handle yourself under presAbsolutely. It's your best opportunity to persuade sure. the admissions committee that you are indeed a Remember, the admissions committee is commitsuperior candidate. The applicant pool for these ted to admitting students who are able to handle selective MBA programs after all are filled with thousands of candidates who look great on paper. the rigors of the school's business program on an They have the grades and the scores, the neces- academic, physical, psychological, and personal level. This interview is your opportunity to consary work experience and the appearance of being able to build a successful career after gradua- vince them that you are indeed up to the challenge, and, as Meg says, "identifying those who tion. will contribute the most and be enjoyable to have around for the next two years!" But they're seeking only the best candidates,
It isn't at all surprising that the interview can be over a third of the formula used to 'rank' applicants. While many think this is unfair, since a typical interview doesn't seem to adequately reflect the candidate's suitability for the business field, it has to be understood that the interview isn't about academic ability; it's all about whether you have the temperament, the qualities necessary to be a successful leader. Qualities such as integrity, negotiating skills, sensitivity and good judgment can be seen within the in"What is often looked for in the interview is terview - admissions that indefinable 'star quality' that separates committees know what to look for in regards to you from the rest of the dynamic leaders their own programs. A longer period of time who've also applied," isn't usually necessary.
Get the Timing Right
You want to request your letters of recommendation early enough to guarantee that your application receives timely consideration. However, you also want to make sure that your letters complement the rest of your profile and support your case for admission. That means that you should complete at least a rough draft of your personal statement and any necessary addenda before approaching your recommenders. Your recommenders can draw on those drafts to tailor the content of their letters to your needs. In The person who can write the most effective letter of recommendation is the person who best knows the applicant. That person may be the TA for a particular class as opposed to the professor. That person may be an office manager or legislative aide as opposed to the senator. Your third letter is most likely to be impressive to admissions officers if your first two recommendations aren't quite adequate to substantiate a story theme that highlights your strengths, or possibly mitigate a weakness, if you have determined that you must address this in your application package. If you are applying to graduate school directly from college, or a few years out, your letters should most likely be from your previous professors. If you have work experience, you may submit a professional letter of recommendation along with one from an academic source. Especially important will be a letter from a boss who is active in the field your plan earn your graduate degree. If you have been active in campus or community organizations, a letter from someone who can speak to your service, leadership, and commitment could be an excellent supplemental letter to your academic and professional letters. Most graduate schools require letters of recommendation. You need to think strategically about whom you choose to write these letters.
Letters of Recommendation
Focus on Content, Not Status of Author
The best letters of recommendation are those that provide detailed examples of an applicant's writing, critical reasoning, analytical, and research skills, and other tools, like creativity, inventiveness, and tenacity, which are necessary for success in graduate study. Also, you will want your letters of recommendation to address how you regularly contributed to situations, such as classes or jobs. Did you regularly arrive prepared? Were you engaged and a regular contributor to class discussions or a creative problem solver at work? If so, you will want this information relayed to admissions officers via your letters of recommendation. Admissions committees are looking for students who are going to be engaged in the classroom and the graduate-school community, not passive observers who merely do their homework and show up to class every day.
A common misunderstanding about letters of recommendation is thinking that the personal or professional status of a letter writer will make a difference with an admissions committee. Applicants will ask deans or high-profile faculty to write letters instead of asking the TA or the assistant professor, fact, their comments with whom they worked directly and is qualified to attest to the applicant's strengths. What matters may actually serve to fill most to the admissions committee is the content and authenticity of the letter, so the people you ask should be among those who know you and your work. in any gaps in the rest of your application file. It is critical for you to take a holistic view of your application, just as admissions committees do.
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Asking For Letters of Recommendation
It is important to be proactive about getting letters of recommendation. Applicants should set up a meeting – in person, if possible, or by phone – with the people they intend to ask for letters of recommendation. Applicants need to ask: Can you write a strong letter of recommendation for me? Do you have time to do it? How can I make it easier for you? Continued….
Letters of Recommendation
One other benefit of meeting with your potential letter-of-recommendation authors is that it will give you an opportunity to discuss your goals, career interests, and the schools to which you are planning to apply. Faculty, in particular, get asked for many letters of recommendation. They are also busy with research, and teaching, and endless administrative work. They need plenty of lead time to get the letters written and submitted. Admissions decisions are frequently delayed because a letter of recommendation has not been received by the admissions office. The applicant can make it easier for the authors of their letters of recommendation by providing a resume and, perhaps, examples of work or project summaries that were done under the tutelage or supervision of the writer.
Save Something for a Rainy Day
Finally, if you are fortunate enough to have more than two people who are able to write strong, detailed letters of recommendation for you, it is often wise to save at least one letter for later. You may get waitlisted at your top choice school. When that school reviews applicants on its waitlist for admission in the late spring or summer, the admissions officers will be looking to see that you updated your file with additional information. An outstanding letter of recommendation, particularly one that provides a different perspective than your original letters, might get you off the waitlist and into your dream school's next incoming class.
Contributed by Senior Consultant Heather MacNeill
Heather spent the past two years as the Assistant Director ofGraduate Admission at Pacific University. Prior to that, Heather worked in graduate admissions at the Oregon Graduate Institute at OHSU.
Making Your Personal Statement Connect
I often work with international students who are applying to competitive programs at U.S. graduate schools. Many of them run into the same two difficulties: one, writing a strong personal statement in English (when that isn't their first language); and two, explaining something that Americans might interpret as a weakness in their school or work records. A few years ago I worked with a client who faced both of these problems. He wanted to study international relations and was shooting for the very top schools – the Kennedy School at Harvard, Columbia, SAIS, Fletcher, and so on. This client had an interesting background. He'd grown up and gone to school all over the place, and he had gained some great research experience since getting his first college degree. But he had some serious weaknesses as an applicant, too. There was a logistical problem with getting adequate transcripts from the university he'd gone to in Europe. Unfortunately, he didn't have a GRE score that could offset that problem. His GRE scores were respectable, but on the low side for the schools he was targeting. His main problem, though, was his writing. The content of his application essays was basically good, but his writing was very technical and hard to read.
“I wasn't sure an admissions committee would make the effort necessary to understand what he was using his essays to say.” - Senior Consultant, Heather McNeil
The one serious flaw in his essay content was a big one: he did not use his essays to offer any insight into who he was or why he was hoping to pursue graduate study. I worked extensively with him on three points. One was persuading him to write one of his essays about his GRE score and transcripts, to put those issues in proper perspective. The second was to get him to write in a more approachable, readable voice. The third was to get him to write something about himself and his personal interests and ambitions. It paid off. He was accepted to his top choice school, Harvard, and several others as well. I'm quite sure that would not have been the case if he had submitted the applications he originally prepared.
A Dual Degree - Is It Right For You?
Do dual degree programs, such as those that join a graduate business degree with a law degree (MBA/JD), make sense for students? Many applicants may wonder if these combined degrees are worth the time, effort and expense. The simple answer is: Sometimes. Dual degree programs are proliferating at universities around the country and have been driven by increased student requests. "It's definitely a function of supply and demand," said Michael States, Assistant Dean for Admissions at the University of North Carolina's School of Law. "Schools are offering a wider range of dual degree programs because students are asking for them." What may have begun as an accommodation for specific students or large employers is now a key marketing tool. Many schools are using dual degree programs as a way to reach a greater number of prospective students by offering a broader range of degree options. Dual programs are being promoted on university websites and in promotional materials as evidence of the variety of choices a specific school has to offer. For students, dual degree programs may represent a savings of both time and money when compared to the option of pursuing the same two degrees individually. Most dual MBA/JD programs, as an example, can be earned in four years as opposed to the five years it would take to earn them separately. Dual programs usually require that students be enrolled full time and that they take at least some of the course work outside of the traditional academic year, typically during summer school. Regardless, the schedule and the course load necessary to complete a two-degree program simultaneously will require a high level of commitment on the part of the student. So when does a dual degree make sense? Senior Consultant Heike Spahn, a former Assistant Dean at University of Chicago Law School, says that "if the applicant has a very specific career goal, or if they have a passion for a particular area, then a dual program might be the right choice." As examples, Spahn points to students who may want to combine their law degree with a masters degree in accounting for a career as a corporate tax attorney, or a business school candidate with a strong interest in medical care who combines an MBA with a Masters of Health Services Administration. "As an applicant for these programs, you have to be very clear on why you want both degrees," says Heike. "When applicants tell me that they want to get a dual degree because they think it's 'cool', I know that they haven't yet recognized all of the work - and money - that goes into completing these types of programs." Some applicants are under the misconception that dual programs offer an easier way to gain acceptance into a specific graduate school. The truth, however, is very different. "Most dual programs require acceptance from both departments. An MBA/JD candidate will typically have to meet standards on both the GMAT and the LSAT as well as having the background, work experience and academic achievement record to needed to get into each program separately," says Heike. Since any two departments may be looking for very different things, "it's sometimes difficult to be a strong candidate in both disciplines.”
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A Dual Degree - Is It Right For You?
So if dual programs are not an easy way in, does it increase your career chances on the way out? Again, the answer needs to be qualified. "If you are looking to work for a law firm that specializes in corporate tax law, then having an MBA/JD may be an advantage, but if the firm has a more general practice, then it may not be that attractive," commented Heike. "The degree you have is going to be looked at in the context of many other factors that go in to making a hiring decision." Michael agrees. "A lot of students have a good idea about the area of law they want to study and they think that having another degree will help them to be more marketable." But he adds that "any area of law that a student may want to specialize in is covered in the coursework of most law degree programs." While a dual degree may be a good option if you have a very specific career path in mind or if you have a passion for a particular area of study, it may be a good idea to wait until you are sure before adding a second degree. "Many programs allow you the flexibility of adding a second degree," says Michael. "You may need to take the time to learn what you want to do, so wait until you are sure about it before deciding on a dual degree approach." If a graduate law or business degree is what you are after, and if you have a particular area that you wish to concentrate your career on, then whatever you're looking for, there is probably a dual program offered at any number of universities. These programs are difficult to get into and they are equally difficult to complete. It takes a high level of commitment and a clear understanding of your career goals to be successful. So be sure you clearly understand the requirements of any program beyond the pictures on a website or the summary in the recruiting brochure before making a decision.
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