Shaping the Class and Ourselves: My Year as an Admission Fellow
By Vladimir Andonov ‘14 | april, 2014, Issue 2
Vladimir Andonov '14
As we enter the final quarter of the academic year, I take a look back at the experience of being an Admission Fellow (AF). It has been a journey filled with late nights reading through files, followed by interviews where we had a chance to see what it's like to be "on the other side of the table." But above all, being AF represented a unique opportunity to shape the future class of Chicago Booth, a responsibility and privilege that the 55 of us took very seriously.
Booth now competes for talent that until recently the full time program rarely had access to. This is a major accomplishment. With an end goal to secure a greater share of these applicants over time, the role of an AF—or student input into the recruiting process—has become an integral part of admissions at Booth.
This wasn't always so. Up until just ten years ago, admissions staff effectively handled the entire recruiting process and familiar elements such as the daily campus visit program had a different form. Participation from student volunteers was largely on an ad hoc basis and with less training, not via a streamlined process or select group of students until 2006 when the AFs were introduced.
Being an AF enabled us to get to know some of our classmates and members of the admission staff better and become friends with individuals we perhaps would otherwise not have crossed paths with. The experience forced me to appreciate more acutely what we have here at Booth. It was during some of the Q&A portions of the interviews I conducted that questions like, "What has been your biggest surprise about Booth?" or "What would you have done differently?" made me genuinely evaluate my own MBA journey. This may be one of the most underrated aspects of being an AF.
But the program is changing. Starting next fall, the AF and DSAC Co-Chair program is expanding to have a more varied and wide-ranging mandate than the current role; a reflection of the evolving needs of the Booth admission process. The changes are nuanced and far-reaching, the driving force being to increase the interaction between Booth students and applicants via on campus programs, communication, branding, and interviewing.
Upon hearing of the change, many of us initially had mixed reactions, but we had the opportunity to engage in a healthy discussion with the admissions staff before the final changes to the program were presented to the Deans for approval. It was during that session that I realized how much being an AF meant to every single one of us. The impulse was to preserve the core elements of the existing program, but as the discourse progressed, it became clear that our overarching objectives were aligned: to most effectively adapt Booth's admissions program to the evolving applicant pool which the school seeks to attract.
While we still have Round 3 interviews ahead of us, this particular session during spring quarter encapsulates what being an AF is all about. I can't close without expressing my gratitude to the admissions staff for affording me the opportunity to be part of the team for a year. Good luck to all the incoming DSAC Fellows and AFs!
Vladimir Andonov has worked in financial services over the past eight years and will be returning to a Bay Area private investment firm in the healthcare sector following graduation.