MBA News: mbaMission Founder Shares Q&A with Admissions Officers

On Tuesday evening, mbaMission founder and President Jeremy Shinewald collaborated with Poets & Quants Editor-in-Chief John A. Byrne for the fifth part of the two firms’ free “Your Dream MBA” online workshop. In this final installment of the series, Shinewald and Byrne welcomed Columbia Business School (CBS) Assistant Dean of Admissions Amanda Carlson and Yale School of Management (SOM) Deputy Director of Admissions Kavitha Bindra for a question-and-answer session about the MBA application process.

When asked about possible trends in the Class of 2017 admissions season, Carlson mentioned a slight increase in female applicants, while Bindra said that the Yale SOM has seen a noticeable boost in applications from international candidates. Bindra noted that the Yale SOM has dropped its TOEFL requirement and now offers a sliding scale admissions fee, which could explain the bump in international interest.

Byrne touched on the possibility of admission to top-rated schools being harder this year, to which Carlson replied that CBS continues to seek motivated, driven, successful people who will enhance the school’s community. “We are lucky enough to have a large application pool to be very selective,” she said.

Among MBA applicants, whether to take the GRE or the GMAT has been a popular topic of late. Bindra shared that approximately 20% of the SOM’s enrolled students took the GRE but that the admissions committee has no preference for either test over the other. “We can get the information we need from both,” she said, while Carlson confessed that the CBS admissions committee simply converts any GRE results into GMAT equivalent scores.

The myths surrounding application rounds and the possible advantages of applying early were another point of discussion. While CBS uses a rolling admissions approach, the Yale SOM has three admissions rounds, typically ranging from September to April. However, Bindra underscored that the admissions committee does not want candidates to rush to submit: “We want to see your strongest application, although you might have a tougher time in round three because we have filled most of our seats by that point.”

Mentioning that he personally had “bombed” his MBA interview, Shinewald asked the admissions officers for their take on whether applicants can successfully bounce back from a less than stellar interview. “An interview is a two-way street,” Carlson responded, “and it should be a conversation. In no way should it feel as if we are putting the candidate on the spot. We are not trying to trick them, just to get to know them.”

When asked whether holding an undergraduate degree from a less prestigious university puts an MBA candidate at a disadvantage, Carlson concluded the podcast on a personal note. She referred to a recent New York Times op-ed which mentioned a couple who had written a letter to their son just before college admission decisions were sent out, assuring him of their pride in him regardless of whether (or where) he was accepted or not. Carlson mentioned that she herself has a very young child and that the article had touched her deeply. “If you’re stressed about not going to a top ten university, don’t be. Who cares?” she said with a laugh. “I know that people stress about [these things], but where you go to school doesn’t change who you are,” Carlson continued. “Prestigious is subjective, and there is so much more to your candidacy.”

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