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  • Writer's pictureSam

The MBA Dictionary: A Beginner's Guide to MBA Speak

Updated: Feb 1



Applying for MBA programs is a long journey. You probably started by asking around your network, but found the advice to be generic. So you go online in search of answers. Uh oh!


Within minutes you have 93 tabs open researching business schools and MBA career statistics. You find yourself gazing at the pricing pages on MBA admissions consultant sites, wishing your bonus would come sooner. Then you enter the rabbit hole of online MBA communities and forums, such as Reddit’s r/MBA and Fishbowl’s MBA bowl.


These forums offer a space where applicants, current students, alumni, and even admissions consultants convene from across the world to share free peer-to-peer advice on all things MBA. The communities are huge (r/MBA has 144,000 members!), so you can almost always find someone who has been in the same boat. Aside from the occasional troll, the advice is usually well-intentioned and you can tell from the comments and up/down votes whether it’s reliable.




Forums are also great for finding helpful free resources shared by other community members, such as webinars and moderated discussions hosted by reliable industry experts. Then, when it comes to anxiously awaiting results, being part of an online MBA community can provide valuable colour and make you feel less alone.


However, as a newcomer to one of these groups, you may just come across something like this:


“SWE with 4 YOE at a FAANG-adjacent firm. Targeting M7 with GMAT 720, ORM. Any tips on which program will get me the best ROI and help me pivot to PM?”


WTF?! It turns out “MBA speak” is a totally different language. Let’s translate some of the most common MBA jargon so you can join the online conversation:


  • Ding: It’s not the doorbell - it means rejection.

  • Ding Analysis: Yikes, let’s examine why. A service offered by consultants.

  • R1, R2, R3: Fall, Winter, and Spring application rounds.

  • Apps: No, this isn’t Olive Garden. This is short for applications.

  • ROI: Return on Investment. Is your post-MBA career going to be worth the investment?

  • M7: The Magnificent 7. Sounds really cool and Bond-like, but it’s just a collective term for the top US schools Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Booth, Kellogg, MIT, and Columbia.

  • T15: The Top 15 Business Schools, based on rankings.

  • HSW: Harvard Stanford Wharton

  • WLB: Work-life balance. That thing we used to have before the pandemic.

  • ORM: Overrepresented minority. Largely alludes to South and East Asians who are over-represented in b-schools as compared to their population in the US.

  • SWE: Software Engineer

  • ECs: Extracurriculars

  • FAANG: Where all your money goes. Refers to the stocks of Meta (formerly Facebook), Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Alphabet (formerly Google).

  • YOE: Years of work experience.

  • MBB: McKinsey, Boston, and Bain. Every MBA candidate has a friend in one of these.

  • FLDP: Financial Leadership Development Program. Does what it says on the packet - career training program offered by companies to develop leaders in finance.

  • SaaS: Software as a Service.

  • OTE: On-track Earnings. You better be hitting those performance targets.


Now that you’re familiar with the lingo, you can confidently join the MBA dialogue online. Find me on r/MBA, answering applicant questions, providing honest profile reviews, and dishing out encouragement. Ask away!


Prefer a one-on-one conversation instead? Book a free 30 minutes chat with me to get a primer on where to begin and how to apply.


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About Us

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Hi, I'm Sam.  I'm the founder of Sam Weeks Consulting. Our clients get admitted to top MBA and EMBA programs.

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