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3 Things to Keep in Mind When Preparing Your 2013 Fisher SMF Application

Three things to keep in mind when preparing your SMF application

Be aware of deadlines

Deadlines have a way of sneaking up on you. I recommend taking a look at the deadlines and working backward. If you want to submit your application by December 1, for example, you know that gives you approximately four months or sixteen weeks from now until then. You need to be aware of how long each item will take to be completed and submitted to us. Examples include but are not limited to:

GMAT: About two to four weeks will go by from the time you take the GMAT to the time we get your scores. Accordingly, if you want your scores to be here by December 1, you should plan on taking the GMAT no later than November 15.

References: How long will your references take to prepare their recommendations for you? Work backwards from December 1 and add an extra couple of weeks or more as “cushion” in case anything unforeseen and unpredicted occurs.

It is OK to submit things “out of order”

You do not need to wait before everything is complete before submitting your application materials. For example, you can submit GMAT scores before submitting your application. Conversely, you can submit your application before taking the GMAT. You can submit your application before all your references are received. You can submit your transcripts to us before you submit your application. And so on.

Be very aware of how long things will take to complete/submit when compiling your application materials – and assume it will take longer than you plan

As mentioned earlier, we will not receive your GMAT scores the day after you sit for the test. Plan for the lag time. Also, your references will need (on average) at least one month to prepare your letters of recommendation.

Transcripts can take a long or short time to get to us – it all depends on the university issuing the transcripts. And sometimes colleges “forget” to send them. Advice: Find out from your school how long it will take to issue your transcripts. Plan accordingly. Build in a margin of safety. And follow up with your school to ensure it sent them to us.


TOEFL scores can take a long time to arrive at Ohio State. How long? It varies. It can be anything from several weeks to several months. The delay is almost always due to the TOEFL test administrator. If you are an international student and need to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores, be sure to keep in close touch with the TOEFL or IELTS test administrator.


2013 application posted online and available

The Fisher SMB-Finance application for the 2012-2013 academic year is now live and available online.

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, so we encourage you to apply early – your chances of earning admission and merit-based financial aid are best at the beginning of the application cycle.

Deadlines for Autumn 2013 are listed below:

DOMESTIC APPLICANTS (U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents)

November 14 - early decision deadline. Complete applications submitted by this date will have an admission decision (admit, deny, wait-list) by December 31.

December 14 - Fellowship/priority funding deadline

May 24* - Final deadline
*Complete applications received after this date may be reviewed on space available basis.



November 14 - Early decision deadline; Fellowship/priority funding deadline

February 15 - Final deadline


Over the next few months, please check back on this blog. I will post information that may help you as you prepare to submit your application. If you have any questions, please leave a comment or contact us (contact information is posted here).

Enjoy the rest of your summer in the meantime!

There are a few more weeks of summer left this year. Enjoy them!

New GMAT section (Integrated Reasoning) scoring scale released

NextGen GMAT will be released on June 5, 2012.

I recently received an email from GMAC on the new Integrated Reasoning section of the GMAT, which will make its debut on June 5, 2012. (I wrote about the “new GMAT” in an earlier post.)

“The new Integrated Reasoning section will measure test takers’ ability to convert data in different formats and from multiple sources into meaningful information to solve problems,” said Ashok Sarathy, vice president, GMAT Program. “Although the questions include both verbal and quantitative data, our testing showed that Integrating Reasoning is a distinct skill.  We think the scores will help schools gauge these skills among their applicants.”

It appears the Integrated Reasoning section will be scored on a standalone basis – in other words, its score (from 1 to 8 ) will not affect the rest of your GMAT scores (e.g. verbal, quantitative, etc.). Click here for more information on the scoring scale on the new Integrated Reasoning section of the GMAT.

Note: If you are applying for the Fisher SMF program for autumn 2013, you may submit GMAT scores to us from either prior to or on/after June 5, 2012. GMAT scores are good for five years – either “version” of the GMAT will work for your autumn 2013 application.

Deadlines – one is TODAY and one is coming up

If you plan to apply, be sure you're aware of the deadline!

The application deadlines for the Fisher SMF program are posted here. To recap:

  • International applicants: final deadline is (today) February 15, 2012
  • Domestic applicants: final deadline is June 5, 2012

There is sometimes confusion among applicants with respect to what “international” and “domestic” mean. These terms do NOT necessarily refer to where an applicant is physically located at the time of application. Rather, the terms refer to the applicant’s legal “visa” status. If the applicant needs a student visa to study in the United States, that applicant is an international applicant. An international applicant can be in the U.S. already. For example, if the applicant is in the U.S. on a student visa and is attending a U.S. university and applies to the Fisher SMF program, s/he is an international applicant. All others (e.g. US citizens, US permanent residents) are domestic applicants.

If you plan on applying for autumn 2013, please click here (“Request more information”). We will contact you as soon as the new application is available. We expect the 2013 application to be available no later than August 2012.




The GMAT is changing in June 2012 – are you ready?

GMAT is undergoing a significant revision within the next few months. In June 2012, the GMAT will introduce an integrated reasoning section, testing concepts that have not been tested before on the GMAT. The current version of the GMAT has a verbal section, a quantitative section, and two essays. The new version will drop one of the essays and replace it with an integrated reasoning section.

What does this mean for you? If you are reading this and are applying to the Fisher SMF program for autumn 2013, you can either take the GMAT before or after the changes are implemented – the program does not prefer one over the other. As long as your scores are valid scores, they can be used as part of a complete application. Remember that scores are good for up to five years from the time you take it so if you took it in February 2012 for your autumn 2013 application, those scores will be valid for your autumn 2013 application.

For more information, please check the FAQ published by GMAC. (Click here if you’d like to see some sample questions from the new integrated reasoning section.)

Application Status: Apply Yourself vs. Buckeyelink

If you have created an application account for the SMF program and have started working on your application, you have been using a system called Apply Yourself (“AY“). This screen shot should look familiar when you log in:

Screen shot of application in progress












Once you submit your application to the SMF program, you will continue to visit AY to review your application checklist – this will tell you whether we have received your transcripts, your test scores, your letters of recommendation or any other application materials that were not submitted with your online application form.

Soon after submitting your application, you will receive an email from The Ohio State University that provides your OSU ID and OSU ID password. This information will be used to log into the Buckeyelink to check your application status as it pertains to a DECISION on your completed application. This site will be updated to indicate whether your application is in review, been approved for admission, been denied, or whether a decision has been deferred until a later date (wait listed):

For Fisher SMF applicants, this application status button on Buckeyelink is not where you go to make sure we have received your application materials. This is where you go to check on the status of your completed application.

To summarize:

Check AY to check the status of your application that has been submitted but not yet complete.

  • In other words, until your application is complete, check AY.

Check Buckeyelink to check the status of your application that has been submitted and is complete.

  • In other words, after your application is complete, check Buckeyelink.


Good luck!

Seven Deadly Sins of Essay Writing

Okay, maybe the words, “deadly sins,” are a bit of an exaggeration; however, it is not uncommon for prospective students to make some mistakes when writing essays.  The following is a list of blunders (countdown style) to avoid when writing an essay for the Fisher SMF program.


This prospective student is praying that she does not commit an "essay sin."

7.   Do NOT use different fonts.  This may sound really simple, but several essays in the last recruiting season have had multiple fonts used, even within the same paragraph.  As with any important document you would create (e.g. – your resume), you want to maintain a consistent, polished, and professional look.

6.   Do NOT write the name of a different school/program in your essay.  Yes, prospective students do this all the time.  If you decide to “recycle” your essays (which will be addressed later), please make sure that you check and remove all mentions of another school or even different program within the same school.

5.  Do NOT write an essay on what you think the admissions committee wants to hear.  This may seem counter intuitive, but this is a huge faux pas students make.  The purpose of a personal statement is for the school to get to know YOU and see if YOU would be a good fit for the school.   If you choose to write about something you think the admissions committee will like, but it’s not really personalized, you are doing yourself and the school a big disservice.  Also, other students who have the same idea may write a similar essay to your own.   How will you stand out against the others who write the same thing?

4.  Do NOT go off the topic asked.  Always respond to the question being addressed.  Many students like to write pages and pages about things that are irrelevant to the question, just because they like to hear themselves talk; or rather in this case, they like to see themselves write.

3.  Do NOT write the same essay for each school.  Similar to Item #6, you really do not want to copy and paste the essay you wrote for one school to another program.  Fisher avoids this problem by asking questions that are different than what most other schools are requiring.  It is easy for us to detect those who reuse their essays because they (like Item #4), go off topic and do not answer what is being asked.

2.  Do NOT submit your first draft.  Not only should you have to take time to proofread and edit your essays, but sometimes it takes a couple of tries to get your message(s) completely right.  Our suggestion to you would be to write a draft and go back to it after a few days (or weeks).  You may think of something brilliant which you did not do so prior.  Remember, once you submit your application, that’s it.  Take time to make sure you are presenting the whole picture.

1.  Do NOT plagiarize!  This is THE most important thing to avoid.  It is illegal, and if caught (which you likely will), you could face severe consequences.  No words or ideas are worth the risk to plagiarize.  Besides, who can write an essay about you better than you, yourself?

Well, I hope this helps you during your application process!  We cannot stress how important essays are to the admissions process as it’s not just about the numbers (GMAT, GPA, etc).   Good luck and apply today!

SMF Information Sessions Just Added!

One of the best ways to learn about a program  is to attend an information session.  As many of our students in the current SMF class are NOT from Ohio State, we are hosting webinars (instead of on-campus information sessions) to allow prospective students to engage with us during their graduate school selection process.

The advantages of a webinar for all of you include being able to learn more about Ohio State without leaving your house, no costly travel expenses, and the ability to ask questions in an anonymous fashion.

SMF information sessions are LIVE (not recorded) which means you will get to interact with admissions directly.

When are these information sessions?

  • Tuesday, October 25th at 7 p.m. EST
  • Tuesday, December 6th at 6 p.m. EST
To register, please click here or visit our site at  See you all really soon!

Getting into this finance program is not just about the numbers


Ohio State Numbers Garden located near Central Classrooms

Recently, SMF has experienced a flood of e-mails.  We are very appreciative of the interest!  It seems to me, there are two things of which most of you are concerned.

First, you are all very apprehensive about your GMAT scores.

Many of you write to us and ask about whether or not your test score is competitive for the program.  As we mention in our FAQs, Fisher recommends that students score at least a 600 to be considered minimally competitive.  What does this mean?  I can tell you what this doesn’t mean…it doesn’t mean that if you score below a 600, you will not get accepted.  It is a general guideline that we suggest, not a hard cut-off point.

Additionally, many of you have noticed that our average GMAT score is a 667.  Again, this does not mean that just because you are below the average, that you will not get into the program.  I blame elementary school teachers for this issue.  In elementary school world, average is a baseline minimum.  If you were below average, you were considered to be “bad.”  I often pity students who fear they have no chance of getting into a school because they are below the “average.”

Remember, what “average” means in the real world.  If you dust off your fifth grade math book, you will see that an average is (X1+X2+…+Xn)/n.  Unless every student in the current SMF class scored exactly 667 (which I assure you they did not as it is impossible to receive that score and there was a RANGE of scores in the class), then you have to assume that some students scored above and others scored below the average.  So yes, students who score below the average did receive admission!  Instead of focusing on the average, look at the range of scores.  At Fisher, we tell students the average score and we ALSO send them the middle 80% range.  For the 2012 SMF class profile, the average was a 667 and the middle 80% of the class scored between a 570 and a 730.

On the other hand, please don’t assume that just because you are above the class average that you will be guaranteed acceptance.  Many students write to us and tell us they have scores well over 700 and they sound pretty confident that they will enter the class.  Test scores aren’t everything.  In this finance program, it’s not all about numbers.

Second, most of you are fixated on the letters, ‘G-P-A’.

What’s the minimum GPA required for the program?  If I have a 3.5, I can get into the SMF, right?

The above questions are just examples of what we receive in our inbox.  Basically, you want to know if you are competitive for the program.  The SMF program recommends that students have a minimum 3.0 GPA to be considered minimally competitive.  Sound familiar?  The 3.0 minimum is a policy set by The Ohio State University’s Graduate School.  You’re below the 3.0 minimum?  In rare cases, if the program is interested in a candidate, the program can petition the Graduate School to admit the student.  You as the prospect CANNOT request this petition, but later on I will tell you how you can improve your chances of getting a petition request.  (NOTE:  This is not a guarantee!)

Your GPA is above 3.0, but below the average GPA (currently 3.45)…look at the paragraph about the average GMAT.  Same rules will apply.

One thing about GPA that is worth mentioning is that (at least at Fisher) admissions committees tend to look at trends.  What does this mean?  For more detailed information, please refer to a blog post written about a year ago called, “The Minimum.”  Basically, admissions committees tend to look at your academic career overall.  Someone with a 3.1 who started out poorly, but ended up getting really good grades at the end will favor over someone with the same GPA who started out performing fantastically, but decided not to do well at the end of his/her academic career.  Yes, each case is different, but you can explain yourself!

This last point, explaining your situation, brings us to the ending message: the GMAT, your GPA, etc are not the ONLY thing that matter in Fisher’s graduate student selection!

Don’t get the wrong idea, grades and test scores are important, but the point is that there are other factors that play into your application review.  We understand that you are not a number (even if we are a large school and this is a finance program); we look at your application as a WHOLE!

You ask, “What can I do to stand out?”  Honestly, think less quantitatively (yes, it’s difficult because you’re interested in finance) and more qualitatively.  Your grades are not going to change drastically at this point.  You may choose to re-take the GMAT; this is a personal decision and the admissions committee won’t make that determination for you.   You can control your essays; use the essay as a tool to really show case WHO YOU ARE!  Use Essay #1 on the application to explain your GPA, or to tell us what you’ve done in your life so far.  Here is a chance for you to tell us that you are not just a 650 GMAT, but a great person who will do well in finance and the SMF.

The important take-away is that we cannot truly evaluate you by looking just at your GMAT scores and/or GPA.  There is a lot more to an SMF student than just numbers.  The only way SMF admissions can tell you whether or not you can join the program is for you to submit a COMPLETE application.  Why are you still waiting?  Apply today!



Three helpful links when you’re applying to the Fisher/Ohio State SMF (finance) program

Let us help you find what you're looking for

If you are applying to the Fisher Master of Specialized Master of Business – Finance program for autumn 2012, here’s a quick guide to help you find three application-related pages on the program’s website.

In addition to the links referenced above, you can also find information on living in Columbus and faculty profiles, among other things! As always, if you have any questions, please let us know.

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