Full-Time MBA

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Virtual Live Chat with Admissions

Admissions Consultant Live Chat
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

We invite you to join an invitation-only live chat with Full-Time MBA Admissions. Chat live with Admissions Directors from Chicago Booth. Ask and share trends related to the application process, this year's essay questions, the admissions interview, and more! Don’t miss this opportunity to chat directly with Booth Admissions Directors to better serve your clients.

Chat Transcript Highlights

 * Kim Masessa: Thank you so much for joining us for our second Consultant Chat! We are looking forward to sharing trends with you. Please feel free to submit questions throughout the session.

Guest: What is your biggest pet peeve that you see fairly commonly in applications? (Such as using the CEO as a rec, even though he doesn't know them well, or explaining in an optional essay that one B they got?)
* Colin Davis: I wouldn't describe anything as a pet peeve, but more so missed opportunities to shed greater light on an applicant’s candidacy. Often times, these can be as simple as submitting a fantastic essay, but not actually answering the questions being posed. As you mentioned in your question, we do sometimes see applicants select recommenders that, while extremely senior in role/title, may not be as well versed in speaking to the true depth of a candidate’s experience. In many ways, that can be a missed opportunity.

Guest: Some of my clients have asked whether scholarships/fellowships are merit based or needs based. Are you able to provide any guidance? Thanks.
* Donna Swinford: At Booth we are 100% merit-based. We recently re-did the scholarship page for prospects to highlight some of the awards we have available. https://www.chicagobooth.edu/programs/full-time/admissions/scholarships

Guest: What GMAT verbal score is considered competitive for an international student?
* Michelle Moore: We look at the GMAT in the context of the entire application, so we don't rely specifically on the verbal breakdown in this area. There are other elements within the application for us to look at if this area is low: TOEFL, IELTS, AWA, etc.

Guest: Hello! I'm wondering what you're seeing for application numbers this year, and the relative level of competitiveness vs. last year.
* Donna Swinford: Hi everyone, I am sure you are all wondering how round one ended this year. Applications have increased year over year. We continue to be impressed with the diversity of the overall application pool. Tech, entrepreneurship, and consulting continue to be of high interest. Applications increased for us over all geographic locations. No one area dominated. We did see a good increase of US veterans, and we continue to see great applicants with GRE scores.

Guest: Has Booth ever considered an Early Decision option (e.g., Columbia) and if not, why not?
* Colin Davis: In my experience, Booth has not considered an early decision option.  

Guest: Would applicants benefit from attending both the Individual Class Visit program and Booth Live? Some clients can only make time for one trip to Chicago and have expressed concern about whether they are "missing out" on something critical by not being able to attend both events.
* Kim Masessa:  Hi, thank you so much for joining us today! Both the Campus Visit Program and Booth Live are great opportunities to experience Booth. An individual campus visit provides the opportunity to gain insights into life at business school whether the prospect is walking to class, going on a tour, or enjoying a complimentary lunch with current Booth students. A Booth Live is an unparalleled opportunity to immerse in Chicago Booth’s supportive culture and diverse perspectives. Prospective students get to spend the entire day (vs. a couple hours) with current students for a comprehensive and authentic introduction to life at Booth, from academics and resources to community and clubs. Ultimately, it comes down to which event is best suited for your client and what aspects they want to dive into. 

Guest: What percentage of round 1 applicants did you invite to interview?
* Donna Swinford: This year was not different than past years. Typically we interview 50% of applicants for each round.

Guest: How helpful is building an "alternative transcript" for applicants who have reasonable quant or verbal skills (as measured in their undergrad transcripts, job experience, etc.) but who can't seem to translate that into GMAT test performance?
* Colin Davis: It's good for prospective students to look at their application with a critical eye. I would encourage anyone who feels that a certain area isn't representative of their true potential, to find opportunities to provide greater clarity or context. In the example you outlined, we'd evaluate all areas (transcripts, job experience, recs, GMAT, alternative, etc.) for evidence of performance.

Guest: Thank you for setting this up!  I am curious if you can comment on what you saw in R1 with respect to presentation vs. essay format.  Are most people writing the essay or evenly balanced? 
* Michelle Moore: We continue to see applicants use both formats. We've stressed to them to use their best judgement when it comes to how they best express themselves, so it ends up being fairly balanced, though with a bit of a skew toward the written format given our Booth moments based question.

Guest: Score cancel has enabled applicants to cancel scores. For an otherwise viable candidate do you care if an applicant has a 720 or a 640 -670 - 720?
* Colin Davis: The test score is only one component of the broader application, as there are many other areas to help guide us on this topic. For that reason, we focus on an applicant’s highest score prior to submission.

Guest: We have some clients doing long-range planning for applications next season. Is there anything "on the horizon" (e.g., new programs, courses, resources, etc.) that we can pass along to those people who are considering Booth for next year?
* Michelle Moore: We continue to stay at the forefront of evolving our curriculum so I anticipate there will be updates to that. Our plan is to host another chat with you in a month or so with a focus on this very topic!

Guest: Booth is successfully established itself in domains where it has not been traditionally associated, such as Food & Agribusiness and Healthcare. Does it have plans to add new academic specializations in addition to these?
* Colin Davis: The benefit of Booth's approach is that we ground students in the underlying principles that all businesses and organizations are built upon. This prepares students to lead in a diverse range of areas and industries. We are continually exploring new ways to give students experiential opportunities with firms across a wide array of fields, including Healthcare (in which we offer a specialized certification program).

Guest: Hello every one. Thanks for having us. We’ve been experiencing an economic downturn in the past two years in my country. I think this results in a slight trend of MBA applicants here picking safer or more conservative career goals (such as remaining in their field or moving to positions that clearly leverage on their prior experience). This increases employability, of course, but makes the “why MBA” rationale less strong. If possible, I would like to hear if the admissions committee sees this trend or how you see the tradeoff between feasible/ambitious career switch versus clear need/some need of development throughout the MBA. Thanks
* Kurt Ahlm: Our ultimate goal is to understand the logic applied to the answer and the authenticity in which is conveyed in the application. What is conservative and what is ambitious is relative and we are not in a place to judge that, rather we look at do the goals and logic for a Booth MBA match with what we can deliver.

Guest: How can someone who has decided to take a gap year from work remain competitive in the applicant pool?
* Colin Davis: Thanks for your question. There can be many reasons to take a gap year, and that's what we'll want the applicant to focus on. We'll want to know what the candidate took from that experience (just as we'd want to know what a candidate takes away from professional experience) and how any learning shape their thinking and/or their future.

Guest: Are you able to share roughly what percentage of applicants received R1 interviews and from that pool, approximately what percentage is likely to receive offers? Our clients are asking their "chances" now that they've received interview invites. Thanks!
* Donna Swinford: I completely get wanting to know their "chances!" I would want to know myself. We interviewed approximately 50% of the round one applicants. We usually admit approximately 40 to 50% of those who are invited.

Guest: How do you view the GRE vs. the GMAT? If an applicant has a weak quant GMAT but is able to demonstrate significantly higher quantitative aptitude on the GRE, would that carry the same weight as a good GMAT alone?
* Michelle Moore: We began accepting the GRE many years ago. We look at this score in the context of the entire application, so we don't rely specifically on is score. There are other elements within the application for us to look at if this area is low: undergrad courses, work experience, etc.

Guest: How do you treat the GRE with respect to the GMAT? Do you prefer one over the other?  Do applicants have an advantage taking one over the other? I know...three questions, but they are all related :-).
* Donna Swinford: We don't have a preference of one test over another. This round 7% of the applicant pool had GRE scores. We actually do not calculate the average but instead use the ETS conversation tool to determine the comparable GMAT score. The range of GMAT scores for those we invited this round is from 590 to 790.

Guest: Booth receives about 7.3 applicants per seat available, competitive with Columbia and Duke but much below Stanford, Haas, MIT, HBS etc. (19.5 to 10.3 apps). Is growing this number strictly about better marketing or is something else at work?
* Colin Davis: Applications per seat is one metric to look at. However, we remain much more highly focused on quality, diversity, and continuing to connect with the right applicants that understand how a Booth MBA can impact their future. Our marketing approach is to ensure applicants understand what's different about the program and the underlying value system that our community is built upon. That success goes beyond just increasing app submission numbers. 

Guest: If someone were to take the GMAT score more than 3 times, does the admissions office view that as a red-flag or something the applicant should offer explanation for?
* Donna Swinford: Red flags are only valid if there are other questions in their application. If the rest of the application is strong and they have a decent overall GMAT score, then no. If there are some concerns about education, experience, etc, then maybe.

Guest: To which schools are candidates telling you they are applying / considering?
* Michelle Moore: We do not ask this in our application. We are much less concerned with where else they apply, and more focused on why they are pursuing an MBA at Booth.

Guest: Applicants of course are usually pursuing MBAs to get jobs. Recruiting, however, has changed enormously in the last several years. Hiring companies are taking different approaches to hiring. And as you note applicants are diversifying their career goals. How is Booth adjusting to the changing career landscape?
* Colin Davis: In addition to traditional on-campus recruiting, many firms are expanding how they think about hiring and engaging talent. Our Career Services does a great job of continually partnering with firms, large and small, to create solutions that meet a broad set of needs in this evolving, global environment. It's very similar to the one-to-one approach we take in partnering with students, ensuring we are ahead of the curve and always have a pulse on student interest and broader hiring trends.


Guest: What is the best way to approach the Booth Moments Essay? Are you getting the information you want/need in that essay or did you initiate that question to demonstrate the multiple facets of Booth experience? 
* Michelle Moore: Good question!  It's a little bit of both. The visuals really anchor on the individuality of each applicant, how they connect with a specific moment, and why they want to be part of the Booth community. We want to get a better feel for the unique connection and impact they can bring to Booth, as well as Booth’s impact on their life and future aspirations. We’ve been really impressed and have seen applicants take a very personal approach with their chosen image, as well as give profound reasons for wanting to be a part of this school and how they want to define their impact going forward.

Guest: How are you dealing with applicants that are using apps like magisto, animoto, vidify to anwer Booth moments?
* Kim Masessa:  We view submissions electronically and in full color, therefore, all submissions need to be converted to PDF files. No animation, video, music, etc. will translate over properly.

Guest: Further to the previous question asked by someone else. Are there any countries that currently lack the representation you think they should have in your MBA class from which you hope to attract more applicants in the future?
* Donna Swinford: Our current first year class has 36% international students (those without US work authorization) and 49% of the class was born outside of the US. We are not actively looking to increase applications from one country over any others. 

Guest: Admissions consultants appreciate Chicago Booth’s effort to reach out to us because the information that you provide helps us to determine whether or not your school’s MBA program is a good fit for our clients. Other than having the opportunity to disseminate the latest information about your school directly to us, what objectives/hopes does Chicago Booth have for this closer relationship with admissions consultants?
* Kim Masessa:  Our goal is to provide insights around the distinct culture and community that thrives at Chicago Booth, and how our students benefit from the flexible and entrepreneurial approach to their education. The use of consultants like yourself is an important part of this process overall.  It is our hope to continue to provide you with updated materials, opportunities to ask questions & gather insights through chats like this to assist your clients with what they need and want to know about Chicago Booth’s Full-Time MBA Program. We are very interested in learning more about trends you see with your clients, so we can provide insights for you to better serve your clients.  For example, we’ve realized that there is a desire to learn more about Chicago Booth’s curriculum, so we will be hosting a Live Chat, exclusively for Consultants regarding this topic, and inviting our Staff members that oversee such.

Guest: Are you looking for a minimum quant score?  In other words is there a percentage point at which you believe an applicant could not handle the quantitative coursework at Booth?
* Colin Davis: There is a point in which ability to handle coursework can be a concern, but it is not determined solely by a quant score (or really any one indicator). Instead, we rely on the entire application (professional experience, transcripts, recs, resume, etc.) for evidence of readiness and ability.

Guest: How would you advise an applicant to approach the presentation essay?
* Michelle Moore: We hope that, as it did last year, the essay encourages applicants to express themselves, their individuality, and their passions in an authentic way as well as how they connect to the Booth community and culture. The captions that we included this year provide additional context for applicants to relate to each moment and find connections that resonate best with them.  

Guest: Historically, it has been difficult for someone applying in R1 to get to a class/campus visit, or attend an out of town info session (unless they are months ahead of the curve). Looking ahead to next year, for clients applying in R1, and were not able to attend recruiting events in the previous season, what are some ways for them to connect to the Booth community?
* Joanna Zisis: Each summer we offer admissions information sessions all over the world in the 3 months leading up to the R1 deadline. In addition, student-hosted events occur in late summer and into late September. The campus visit program runs all year, though most R1 applicants plan campus visits in the spring. We offer 3-4 chats per month and applicants can connect directly with students through our “Connect with a Student” matching tool. You can view it here: https://apply.chicagobooth.edu/portal/studentvolunteer

Guest: The curriculum live chat will be enlightening. Thank you for offering it!
* Kim Masessa: We are excited to provide more focused chats for you all! Please let us know if there are any additional topics of interest!