Full-Time MBA

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Chicago Booth Curriculum Live Chat

We invite you to join a live online chat exclusively for Admissions Consultants. Representatives from Academic Services and Full-Time MBA Admissions are available to answer questions regarding our flexible curriculum. 

 Chat Transcript Highlights

Guest: Hi! Thank you for speaking with us today. My firm would like to know what kind of trends you are seeing this year in regard to the number of applications, quality, etc.

* Colin Davis: In terms of trends, we have seen an increase in our application volume this year. We continue to see a diversification of applicant backgrounds and interests. In terms of baseline GPA and GMAT metrics, we continue to see increases across both areas.


Guest: Just a quick thanks for offering another chat for admissions consultants, and also congrats on the announcement of your new Dean!

* Christine Gramhofer: Thank you!  We are very excited for him to start with us in July and we had lovely reception for him yesterday.


Guest: Other questions: What percentage of applicants seem to be doing the powerpoint versus a different form of response. Can you give some examples of responses that have been very impactful and why? I would say that many applicants are still somewhat intimidated by this... can you share more of how this question has helped you make better admissions decisions. That would be very interesting to hear your perspective there.

* Kurt Ahlm: Donna thank you for the question, there is really no reason to be intimidated by the question. We get a pretty even set of responses between PPT format and essay. The reality is we just wanted to present a wide variety of options and formats for applicants to authentically represent their answers. Some prefer using visuals as a narrative tool others feel more comfortable with words and some employ both. At Booth we  are always influenced by the quality and precision of an argument so providing people with a broader set of tools to apply greater quality and precision is our job, how and which tool they choose to apply is up to them. Clarity, authenticity and quality in answering the question is first and foremost, presentation style is second. Finally it is difficult to provide specific examples of success because these have to be evaluated in the broader context of the application. The way the essay provides additional depth and texture to the application is key.


Guest: Thanks for hosting!  Will applicants who were waitlisted in Round 1 be getting 'updated' decisions along with Round 2 applicants next week?

* Kimberly Ge: Thank you so much joining us! For those waitlisted in Round 1, they will have updated decisions on Thursday, March 16. 


Guest: Hi! Has the international applicant pool changed in R2 due to potentially stricter immigration policies?

* Colin Davis: We did not experience a decline or noted change within the international applicant pool for round 2.


Guest: Overall, are you seeing a rise in applications to the full-time program?

* Kimberly Ge: Applications for the full-time program have increased in volume this year!


Guest: Hi - one of my clients expressed apprehension about the flexible curriculum, feeling that he would need more structure to ensure that he gained a holistic sense of business.  What resources do you offer for students like him that are looking for more guidance and fear getting "lost" within such a flexible structure?

* Christine Gramhofer: All students are assigned an academic advisor to assist them navigate the flexible curriculum.  Advisors work closely with students to create a portfolio of courses to leverage current skills, identify skills they wish to acquire, and assist them in achieving their academic and professional goals.


Guest: Can you comment on the number of applications this year vs. last year? Up? Down? And by what percentage?

* Donna Swinford: Our applications are up year to date. We still have one more round to go (April 4th). After that date we will know the numbers.


Guest: Thank you very much for setting this up. How have you seen the applicant profile evolve over the last couple years and what surprised you most about the applications you have received so far this year?

* Kurt Ahlm: Thanks for joining us today. The simple answer is the pool is becoming more diverse every year, interests, backgrounds, experiences, goals are becoming more nuanced and complex. It is exciting to see such a broad range of talented applicants considering the benefits that Booth presents. For years expectation that this was just a finance school has steadily been eroding, and although we still get great applicants with this interest is no longer the major focus of the pool.


Guest: What's your process for reviewing applications?  Is every file reviewed in its entirety no matter the candidate's GMAT or GPA?  If so, how many reviews does each file get?  Thank you!

* Donna Swinford: Each file receives multiple full reads. We will read a file and if it is recommended for deny another person reviews. If the same decision is recommended we have a final approval review. If someone is recommended for interview, they move straight to interview and once we receive the report another full read happens. All results are then reviewed by various committees and then final decisions are made.


Guest: With the flexible curriculum, do you find students maximize the flexibility? or do most tend to stick to suggested tracks/sequences/courses?

* Christine Gramhofer: Students do take advantage of the flexible curriculum.  Aside from required areas, the depth and breadth of electives allow students to step outside a prescribed course plan or sequences and tailor a program of study that meets their individual needs and skills


Guest: We have worked with some clients who were not admitted to the full-time MBA program but ended up reapplying and being accepted for the evening program.  Is there any plan to make that easier for candidates to do?  Right now they have to complete an entirely new application.  Some other schools will re-direct applications to another program with only incremental work.

* Donna Swinford: If someone wishes to apply to a different program, regardless of outcome, we encourage applicants to reach out to the new program's admissions office to discuss the decision to apply to another program prior to starting the process so that they will know what is required. Somethings are automatically carried over, such as work experience, schools, and demographics. The program office will make the decision if new recommendations, essays, or interviews are required on a case by case basis.


Guest: Have you been able to still interview 50% of the candidates?

* Donna Swinford: We have invited approximately 50% (technically 49%) this year through two rounds.


Guest: Thanks for taking the time to connect! There was lots of great feedback from clients who went to Booth live. Do you have immersion-type events planned for the spring or even summer, when R1 applicants are looking to engage more?

* Kimberly Ge: I’m glad to hear that your clients had a great experience at Booth Live! Our team is actually in the planning stages of summer events that will be offered on-campus and off-campus globally. We will share these dates once they are finalized on our website and with you all through email.


Guest: I'm so interested in your take on how the student experience at Booth continues to evolve. This is especially true after a long conversation I had last week with a fantastic client assessing multiple offers of admission, including Booth. I believe she will be headed your way in the fall, and had a fantastic experience at admit weekend -- for the next conversation I have, I'd like to understand your firsthand perspective. Thanks!

* Christine Gramhofer: We continue to evolve as a program as we strive to meet the needs and interests of the students we support in their time at Booth.  We have a vested interest to stay ahead of the curve in the classroom through faculty research and instruction, co-curricular and leadership opportunities, and career services support. 


Guest: Was there a most popular image this year that really resonated with applicants?

* Colin Davis: The reality is that, similar to last year, we've seen pretty wide distribution in terms of the moments that prospects select and why various moments resonate with them. We' were happy to see that applicants have taken a very personal and genuine approach. 


Guest: We often have people ask if they should "stop by" admissions when they are visiting campus. Do you like candidates to reach out during visits?

* Kimberly Ge: This is a great question! As part of our Campus Visit Program (https://www.chicagobooth.edu/programs/full-time/admissions/visit), prospective students have the opportunity to participate in activities throughout the day, these activities include an information session with an Admissions Staff member, a tour of Harper Center, Lunch with Current Students, and a class visit.  Lastly, prospective students have the opportunity to engage with the Admissions Committee during the information session, and for any one-off questions throughout the day of their visit!


Guest: Can you describe the ideal full-time MBA candidate in 3 words? 

* Kimberly Ge: That’s a tough one!  There is no perfect candidate, but it’s important to understand that our Admissions Committee considers a candidate’s potential for success both while in school and beyond. We evaluate candidates using a holistic process that incorporates every component of the application.  The application can be categorized into three broad themes: Curriculum, Community, and Career. I recommend checking out the following webpage: https://www.chicagobooth.edu/programs/full-time/admissions/apply/criteria that digs deeper into what we look for as an Admissions Committee within each of the broader themes. Hope that helps!


Guest: Are you getting questions from current students yet about the impact of visa policies? What are the resources available to international students (or accepted students) to help with these questions?

* Colin Davis: We have begun to receive visa questions. The reality is that the policy potentially impacts many members of our community. The university's commitment to past, present, and future international students remains a top priority. While the policy situation is still fluid, our Office of International Affairs has proactively reached out to students and scholars with guidance and resources, including sessions with immigration and legal experts.


Guest: Following on the immigration policy question...have you made any changes/adjustments regarding international candidates in the admissions process or in career services/placement?

* Colin Davis: We have not implemented any changes within our admissions process as it relates to the international candidates. Similarly, career services continue to support all student career pursuits and help them understand and navigate opportunities within the global marketplace.  


Guest: Have you enjoyed the essay responses this year? Do you envision a similar application next year or is it too early to discuss that?

* Colin Davis: We have very much enjoyed the essay responses and personality that candidates have injected into selecting their moments and why they resonate with them. We're still enjoying the responses of this current application cycle and will begin to think about next year in the near future. We hope applicants have enjoyed the essay as much as we have enjoyed reading them.


Guest: Do you know as yet what the new Dean's priorities will be?

* Kurt Ahlm: Salma, we had our first introduction to our new Dean yesterday and it is still very early to tell what his priorities will be. He does not officially start until July 1. However in his comments he was very committed to the values of the Booth experience, and continuing us on path to be recognized as a preeminent institution for creating enduring knowledge and impactful leaders.


Guest: Given the increase in apps already, what should we say to a client thinking about trying in Rd 3? Should they just wait till next season?

* Donna Swinford: If your client feels they are ready for an MBA starting this fall then they should apply round 3. If they are not successful we see many round 3 applicants apply again in round 1 of the next year and end up being admitted.


Guest: In addition to LEAD, what are some of the most compelling leadership development opportunities on campus? When an applicant is stuck on the notion of Chicago as a "finance school" it would be great to offer more about leadership development (in addition to linking them to career reports, etc)!

* Donna Swinford: At Booth, LEAD is just one aspect of leadership development. There are an abundance of leadership opportunities for our students. They can obtain roles within program offices (Admissions Fellows, Career Advisors, Lead Facilitators), as student group leaders, event co-chairs, etc. In their second year, students can participate in Leadership Practicum which is a flexible curriculum of activities designed support their long-term success as a leader.


Guest: What opportunities do Booth students have to develop coding skills? A number of accepted students are seeking out programming classes and are wondering if they should do them before school (or if they'll have an opportunity during school to do so).

* Christine Gramhofer: Aside from the Application Development course, students can take advance of courses offered through the Computer Science department and have those courses count as an elective towards the MBA degree requirements.  Student interested in an even deeper dive into coding/programming, may wish to consider applying to the joint MBA/CS degree program which was introduced in fall 2016.


Guest: Can you please share more on the Hong Kong Center in terms of what opportunities that will provide for Booth students?

* Kurt Ahlm: Lisa the major focus is to continue to increase our presence and connection within the region. The new center will not only support Booth initiatives (Executive MBA, Executive Education) but University of Chicago ones as well (Undergraduate coursework and labs, Lecture series etc.). I suspect the center will be a melting pot for new programs, new learning and broader engagement with influencers within the region. At this point this is all still being formulated with more information to come.


Guest:: What percentage of interviewed candidates are generally accepted?

* Donna Swinford: approximately 45 to 50%


Guest: Once someone gets to the interview stage, what are their odds for getting accepted? What percentage does those interviews on campus versus off campus?

* Donna Swinford: Approximately 45 to 50% of those who are interviewed are admitted.  We also see approximately half of the applicants interviewed on campus.


Guest: For clients from India, do they stand a better chance of being admitted in R1 versus R2 (all things being equal)? It's a very competitive applicant pool, as you know!

* Kimberly Ge: We have three rounds of applications for a reason, and we accept people in every round. Rounds 1 and 2 tend to be larger, but we certainly have admitted great people from Round 3. We always instruct prospective students that they should never rush an application; making sure they apply when they feel 100% ready. It’s more important for prospective students to take time to get the best recommendations, think thoughtfully on all of their answers, etc. If they are rushing the application to try and fit into a specific round, that will come through in their answers.


Guest: How do you evaluate early-career candidates? With less than 3yrs of work experience?

* Kimberly Ge: There is no separate program or admissions process for those who consider applying early on in their careers. Early career candidates must complete the full application for admissions. However, the Admissions Committee will bear in mind the applicant’s proximity to the college experience when considering factors such as leadership, supervision experience, and academic success.


Guest: Do you advise applicants to cancel scores that they are not satisfied with them and intend to retake? Or would you prefer to see improvement that can be represented by multiple test scores? Do you encourage applicants to take advantage of the score cancel policy?

* Donna Swinford: We do not have an opinion on the score cancel policy.  For some people I imagine the exam becoming a very expensive practice test.


Guest: What changes do  you anticipate to the Booth curriculum and application for the next year?

* Christine Gramhofer: With Dean Rajan joining us on July 1, we are still a few months away from learning of any impactful curricular changes.


Guest: Truly, I have to say thank you. Your willingness to share your time today is so appreciated. We all want the same thing- for the right people to end up at the right place. And the more information we have about Booth the more we can help people as they navigate through the process.

* Kimberly Ge: Thank you so much, Donna!


Guest: I could see huge value in having someone in career management also join in a future chat- thanks again for your time today!

* Kimberly Ge: This is great feedback! We will think about this for our upcoming Admissions Consultant Chats!