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2011 Consortium MBA Application Strategies Q&A with Rebecca Dockery

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Linda Abraham: Hello. My name is Linda Abraham. I am the founder of Accepted.com and the moderator of today’s chat. First I want to welcome all applicants to the Q&A today, and I want to congratulate you for taking the time to learn more about The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management and hear more about its program from the perspective of participating schools. You need to know as much as you can to make a sound application decision and gain acceptance to the school of your choice, as well as to have the best chance of earning the Consortium fellowship. Being here today allows you to ask the Consortium experts and school representatives about this outstanding program and their experiences in business school. I also want to welcome our special guests who will be responding to your questions this evening. First of all, Rebecca Dockery, The Consortium’s Recruiting Manager. Also joining us are the following representatives from Consortium Schools:

Thank you to everyone for joining. I am going to take advantage of my position as the moderator and ask the first question. Rebecca, what's new at the Consortium?

Rebecca Dockery CONSORTIUM: Thank you Linda, and thank you all to our panelists for coming, and thank you all for joining us to get your last chance in before that first deadline which is coming up pretty quickly. Regarding things that are new with the Consortium this year, we have expanded this year to include two new schools so we are now up to 17 member programs. We are also really excited that the University of North Carolina is back on the common application. So for those of you who might have applied before, you knew that UNC was an exception and you had to do an extra application, and that's not true anymore. So this year they are in fact accepting the common application, and we're really excited about that.

Linda Abraham: Maybe we should just take a minute and let each of the panelists say something that is new at their school. Vicky, can you tell us very briefly something that is new at the University of Texas?

Vicki Duran TEXAS: A couple of things are new in our school this year. We've added a few concentration areas; one in healthcare, another in consulting, another in government and public policy, as well as some expanded offerings within the energy space. So those are a few of the new things happening in the coming year at UT.

Vickie Euyoque UCLA ANDERSON: One of the great things that's new is being able to join the Consortium this year, so we're very excited about that. There have been a couple of changes. For instance, we added a required communications course to our first quarter here so that our students are able to gain some additional skills to be able to really go into the networking field and be able to interview well, have really strong communication skills, and have the tools to really be successful. We also have a new director in our Career Management Center who is working very diligently to bring even more recruiting companies onto campus. So it's been so far a really great start to the year, and we're looking forward to whatever else lays ahead.

Lily Testa ROCHESTER: We actually have a couple of new things that are going on in terms of programming as well as staffing at the school this year. Similar to Vickie, we actually have a new director for the CMC, who comes from an executive hiring background previously. The new director is also working on expanding career relationships with our corporate partners, and deepening those that we have thus far. Additionally, we also have developed our Business Learning Modules for students in the full-time MBA and MS programs. It allows students to better explore job opportunities in different industries that they don't necessarily understand or haven't previously thought of, when they are entering the MBA for a certain concentration or program. Those are going very successfully this year so we are very proud of that. And then finally, we have a new degree program offering that is going to be in a satellite city, in NYC, this coming year for the full-time Masters in Finance, in conjunction with the programs that we offer in the Rochester, NY area as well. We're really excited to be on this call, and so happy to be speaking with everyone.

Shana Basnight EMORY: At Emory University's Goizueta Business School, we actually have a new Marketing Analytics Center. So it's a great opportunity for students that are interested in delving into corporate marketing problems to get some corporate innovative research there. We also have a merging healthcare concentration where we are merging with the School of Public Health as well as Emory Healthcare to offer some new healthcare options to our students. So we're really excited about these opportunities, and we look forward to seeing your application.

Julie Wiley UNC CHAPEL HILL: Thank you for having us today. As the Consortium representative mentioned, we are really excited to be part of the Consortium common application this year. That is great news for everybody. As some of the other schools mentioned as well, we also have a new CMC director. And she is working with the new Associate Director, who was hired solely to focus on some global job opportunities for our students who would like to work in other countries. Following up on other global opportunities, Kenan-Flagler is focusing on emerging markets both in travel and study opportunities, as well as opportunities for our students to consult in small groups with companies that are located abroad. And those opportunities mean consulting with the companies and actually traveling to those countries at some point during their consulting experience to meet with the company as well. So we're really excited about providing our students with some additional global opportunities that they didn't have last year.

Kellee Scott USC: Welcome everyone. As far as USC, one of the newest things we've done is we've changed our curriculum for our full-time program. And we started our MBA first year class in July, in mid-summer, giving them time to get a really quick base for all the quantitative skills for the first year MBA. It allows them the flexibility to start taking some of their electives earlier this year. So we've done that to make the program a lot more flexible and allow students to get in step into the areas of concentration that they wish to go into in a much quicker fashion. So that's one of the new things we've done at Marshall.

Karen Marks DARTMOUTH: Hi. Happy to be here. I would say we have two things going on that may be of interest. First is that we have the largest Consortium class in Tuck history, starting last month. The second thing is that our Leadership Program has expanded, and it now spans both years that students are at Tuck. It includes some interesting features like 360 feedback from your former employers and colleagues.

Jon Fuller MICHIGAN: Good evening, and thanks again everybody for joining us. I would say the two things we are excited about at Ross are sort of interrelated. The first thing that I'll mention is that we recently launched a Social Venture Fund. This is the third student managed fund at Ross, under the auspices of the Zell & Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. It joins our Frankel Commercialization Fund and the Wolverine Venture Fund. So the goal of that is to allow students direct investments in sustainable for-profit enterprises that speak to societal needs that aren't necessarily being met by our other investment opportunities. The other thing just happened last weekend. We recently hosted the National Net Impact Conference, and we were very excited not only to host the conference, but we were also recognized as the Chapter of the Year again this year. So we are very excited about the recognition on that front as well for the work that our students do.

Lauren Levine NYU STERN: At NYU Stern, we have a lot of new news. We actually have a new dean that started with us this year, Dean Peter Henry. He is an international macroeconomist who has actually lead the Obama Transition Team's review of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. So he brings a really unique perspective to our school, and has refreshed our mission; he wants to develop global leaders with the intellect and the character to excel in the future, which is of course uncertain. So that's been exciting. In addition, we have a relatively new program called the Board Fellows Program through which we match students with non-profit boards; they can get experience helping non-profits, also taking on a leadership role. And then finally something else that is new recently is that our faculty actually just released their second book. This one is on the financial reform that is going on right now.

Linda Abraham: Now to the applicants' questions, and there are a lot. Kim asks, "What is some advice you have for balancing what to put in the main Consortium essay, considering how differently each school approaches their individual core sections?" And this is something I'd just like to go through the panelists, and ask if you each have some advice for you own school.

Lauren Levine NYU STERN: In terms of balancing the different kinds of information, I think that since it is a common application, I would probably recommend applicants focus on really answering the question for the Consortium essays. Make sure that you're getting to the heart of the question, and really focusing on that. And then when it comes to school specific essays, I would really try to show why you think that school might be a good fit for you, because that's the only place in the application where you are able to fine tune your essay to that specific school.

Jon Fuller MICHIGAN: One thing that the applicants seem to understand is that we are aware that it is a common application, and because of the nature of the other school specific questions, they may have some relation to what the main essays are. But again, the main essays are being read by everyone so we are sympathetic and we know that you are addressing that common essay question to all audiences. So I guess I would say to answer the question directly that the school specific questions are asking, and don't necessarily worry about being repetitive or that you have already addressed this in your main essay. We are fully aware of the constraints that are put on by the common application, and we are trained to evaluate it appropriately to understand those nuances.

Karen Marks DARTMOUTH: I think that is all good advice and I don't want to be redundant, but I'd say my basic rule of thumb when I'm trying to help people with their Consortium applications is the same advice I would give if they were applying through a different mechanism. And that is to just really not worry so much about what they think we want to hear and really answer the question in the most honest, genuine, truthful way that really represents what they want to get across.

Kellee Scott USC: I have nothing to add. Ditto.

Julie Wiley UNC: The only additional thing that I would add is that an applicant can take advantage of an interview with a specific school if they want to highlight particular courses or clubs or anything of particular interest about that school that drew them to the school if they don't have that opportunity in the common application.

Shana Basnight EMORY: The only other piece of advice that I would add is if you can get some feedback while you're writing your essays. Write the essay without the question, and give it to somebody that you know, and see if they can tell the question that you were trying to answer. That is usually a good sign that you've done a great job at answering that question. Just have your friends and your peers read through your essays before you submit them.

Linda Abraham: That is actually a check that I sometimes do when reviewing an essay. I'll read the essay, I'll look at the question, and then I'll ask myself if I can answer that question based on what I just read. Lilly, do you have anything to add?

Lilly Testa ROCHESTER: No. I actually think that everything has been covered pretty well so far.

Vicky Duran TEXAS: I would just say to really reflect on why you want an MBA, and how that MBA is going to help you achieve your career goals, and help us understand that through your essays.

Linda Abraham: A couple of people have asked this question about whether international students are eligible for the Consortium scholarships, or is a dual citizen eligible for the Consortium scholarship? What in terms of citizenship is the requirement?

Rebecca Dockery CONSORTIUM: All applicants have to be US citizens or permanent residents. Dual citizenship would not be an issue as long as one of those two citizenships is American.

Linda Abraham: Eugene is asking, "Are there pros and cons of applying through the Consortium and applying directly to the school?" I suspect that the pros are pretty obvious in terms of ease of application and in terms of the possibility of getting the fellowship. But are there cons to applying through the Consortium?

Vicky Duran TEXAS: I don't think there are any cons of applying through the Consortium. We certainly understand the reasons why you would want to apply through the Consortium and they are pretty significant. So I would say that as long as you utilize the essay that is school specific to demonstrate to us your knowledge about our program and why you are interested in getting an MBA from our program, otherwise we treat every application, whether it's through the Consortium or through our regular application process, in exactly the same way. We review them the same way.

Linda Abraham: Vickie, do you see any cons to applying through the Consortium?

Vickie Euyoque UCLA ANDERSON: Not at all. I think it is just extremely beneficial for every applicant to apply through the Consortium. Aside from the fact that it's the only way to be considered for the Consortium fellowship, it also gives you such a larger network outside of your own individual business school. And the early access to the company sponsors that they have, helping you with interviewing skills, and the orientation program that they have; I think it's nothing but value to the applicant, and there aren't any negative side effects associated with applying so I definitely encourage everyone to apply through the Consortium.

Linda Abraham: There are several people asking about word counts. Apparently for the school specific essay, word guidelines are not given. Could you quickly go through and just say if there is a word limit on your school specific question and how that works?

Rebecca Dockery CONSORTIUM: There are going to be seventeen different answers across the board. So when you look at the school specific prompt, if there is a word limit it will be in the prompt at the end. If there is not, then the only thing that you need to worry about is the character counter at the bottom of the text box. So if there is a word limit, it will be in the prompt, otherwise just pay attention to the character counter below the box.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. That was easy. Rebecca asks, "What kinds of questions should we expect during the Consortium interview?"

Shana Basnight EMORY: You can actually expect the same types of questions that you would expect during a normal interview. Most of the interviews are behavioral interviews, and specifically with the Consortium, the important thing to remember is that you may get one or two questions that ask about your commitment to the Consortium mission during that interview. But the rest of the interview is a pretty standard MBA application interview.

Lilly Testa ROCHESTER: I'll echo everything that she said. It is very much a conventional, behavioral style interview. I think one thing to be aware of is the location where you do choose to have your Consortium interview. You have the opportunity there to convey a certain amount of detail to the school itself, if you are interviewing with one of your select schools. But be aware, that all the programs will be able to see that interview, so you don't necessarily have to go as school specific based on the Consortium interview itself as you are going forward. So keep that in mind as you are conducting the interview.

Linda Abraham: The next question is from Brice. Brice asks, "Thank you for taking the time to speak with all of us today. I was wondering if there was a preferred style of writing for the two questions? Is creativity frowned upon?"

Julie Wiley UNC CHAPEL HILL: Certainly I would not frown upon reading a creatively written essay. We certainly read a lot of essays, and feel free to be creative if that is something that helps you stand out. As other member participants have said, we do want you to answer the question; we want you to answer the question articulately, concisely, and well written with good grammar and good sentence construction. But if you are creative as you are answering the question, then I think that is fine.

Kellee Scott USC: I would add to that, make sure to answer the questions in your own voice. I think what happens a lot of times is that candidates tend to start writing thinking about what the admissions committee wants to hear. They start thinking about what they think we want them to write about, verses what we are asking you to write about which is your story, and your story is only unique to you. So make sure you are writing in your own style of writing. And one of the ways to get a handle on that is we encourage you to maybe have someone who is very critical and someone who is very supportive read your essay without the question. And if they can figure out the question, it's probably a good essay. But also, people who know you better know your style, and they can probably tell you if you are writing outside of what your normal style is. So think about doing those kinds of things because we are really just looking for the uniqueness of your story in those essays.

Linda Abraham: Here's a follow up question. Can you give some guidelines perhaps to distinguish between creativity and gimmicks?

Kellee Scott USC: That's a very good question. Everything about this whole process is a judgment call. You are applying to business school; this isn't the school of cinema, and you don't necessarily have to send in DVDs and soliloquies and things of that nature. Again, just think about your own voice and how you tell your story. And you could use something that could be unique to you. But for example, people give a plethora of quotes, and they say these are the quotes that speak about me. It's fine if you have one quote or something like that and it speaks to what you are writing about, but when your whole essay is a poem or something like that, it's probably not necessary.

Julie Wiley UNC CHAPEL HILL: And the only thing I would add to that is that sometimes we read essays that touch upon perhaps too personal of family information and things like that. You really just want to stick to answering the questions so that we know if you would fit into our program, what your life has been like so far, and if you will get hired. Are your goals meeting your past experiences? And going forward, what is this person going to be like in our program and what is this person going to be like in an interview situation some day as well? So I would tone down the gimmick really and try to keep it simple.

Vickie Euyoque UCLA ANDERSON: I think the main difference is whether or not it comes out naturally. If you are naturally creative and that is the writing style that you want to write in and it has a certainly personality or character to it that is innate to who you are, that is fine. But if you really find yourself trying to force something funny or creative and highlight a certain part of the school in a way that you think is going to be eye catching, then maybe you are trying a little too hard. As we always said, you want to be sincere and authentic in how you want to answer these questions, so you should also take into consideration whether or not this is a natural form that you are writing in. So it's just something to consider.

Linda Abraham: Michael asks, "The application asks for the highest cumulative GMAT score. If you took the GMAT multiple times, can you report your highest score in the AWA, the Quant, and the verbal sections?" In other words, can you pick and choose? And the related question is from John, "How does the Consortium or the individual schools view applicants with GRE scores verses applicants with GMAT Scores?" Obviously that would only apply to schools that accept both. So do any of you allow an applicant to report the highest of the different segments of the GMAT?

Vicky Duran TEXAS: We do not. We just take the highest overall score, and we also accept the GRE.

Linda Abraham: Does anyone who accepts both test scores have any preference of one over the other?

Vicky Duran TEXAS: I think our preference is still the GMAT score.

Lauren Levine NYU STERN: We actually don't have a preference for GRE or the GMAT.

Rebecca Dockery CONSORTIUM: When applicants put the information into their application, they should put the highest cumulative score, and all of the relevant subsections that go with that highest cumulative score. But what you need to keep in mind is that when GMAT sends off the score report, it's going to show every time that you've taken the test, so the schools are going to see all of the tests.

Julie Wiley UNC CHAPEL HILL: I did forget to mention earlier when we were talking about what's new at the schools that UNC is accepting the GRE for the first year this time.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. There are a number of questions here asking about the chances of acceptance for Consortium applicants as opposed to the overall applicant pool. So one question here is from Katrina, and she is specifically asking about NYU. And somebody else asked about UNC.

Kellee Scott USC: There is no difference in how we view applicants from the Consortium verses applicants who are applying outside of the Consortium. Our expectation is that all applicants are meeting the standards that we are looking for. So over the years, of course the quality of the applicant pool varies. But Consortium applicants have the same chance of getting off the scholarship as any other applicant in our pool.

Lauren Levine NYU STERN: I would say that for NYU Stern it is the same thing and there is no difference in terms of the acceptance rate from Consortium applicants and people who apply through the standard application process. We review them in the same way. And to the question-- historically, how many people have been granted fellowships?-- unfortunately it's not something that I can really answer because it can vary year by year.

Linda Abraham: Eliza asks, "Do admissions officers look favorably at the Consortium applicants that are re-applying?

Jon Fuller MICHIGAN: I wouldn't say that we look favorably or unfavorably. Just as one of the previous comments was that the pool is different every year. We will see standard trends one year to the next, but every year we are looking at a different set of people. So while you may have applied to our program or another program and you may not have been admitted last year, that is based on the other applicants that we received. This year you might be competitive, and/or you might have had additional experiences in that past year that elevate your profile and make you more attractive to one of our programs. So I guess I would advise a re-applicant to do the full self assessment and say, okay I wasn't successful my first time around, I guess I should try to look at my application and see what my weak spots are and address those. And you should speak to those more confidently, or find some ways to address some of those weak spots in your updated application. If you go back and submit the same essay question or have the same GMAT score, etc., and expect to get a different result, you are probably going to be disappointed. But if you look at areas where you have room for improvement and address those in your application, hopefully you'll have a better outcome this time around. But no, I wouldn't say that we have a preference one way or the other or that we look at them differently than we do our regular applicants.

Linda Abraham: The next question is from Scott, and he writes, "I was wondering what is expected for the section in the application regarding responsibilities, accomplishments and skills acquired. And there is another section: honors, awards, achievements and courses, extra curricular activities college and post-college." And he also asks, "Can you provide some examples? Maybe some tips for filling those out and making the most of those sections."

Vicky Duran TEXAS: So he is asking that specifically within the resume and within certain areas of the application?

Linda Abraham: He is asking I guess about the boxes in the application form. Responsibilities, accomplishments, and skills acquired from jobs. Honors, awards, achievements, extra curricular activities college/post-college.

Vicky Duran TEXAS: So for responsibilities and accomplishments, I would choose words that are action words that are going to be able to demonstrate major accomplishments. For instance, if you led a project that resulted in a savings of $20 million to your organization, that is something we would want to know. We don't want to see every single detail of your job so I would choose the high points that you think demonstrate your ability to be an effective team member as well as a leader in your organization, and also where we are able to see that potential for leadership. As far as examples of accomplishments, awards, recognition, or community service and things like that, I would say to make sure it's relevant and recent. So if you volunteered once for Habitat for Humanity when you were in high school, that is probably not something that is recent or relevant to your application. So we are going to want to see things that are a bit more current that you are actively engaged in. And again, everything that you put in your application should add value to your application document.

Linda Abraham: And you are recommending a resume style, bulleted approach for responding in that section?

Vicky Duran TEXAS: If they are able to do that within those boxes, yes. But certainly on the resume, that is a much easier style to read than paragraph form. I've seen resumes where people even speak about themselves in third person and they use paragraph style in the resume, and that is really not effective.

Linda Abraham: Vickie, do you have anything to add?

Vickie Euyoque UCLA ANDERSON: I agree with everything Vicky Duran just said. And you have to remember that your application to a certain extent is like a story, so you want each part to be able to connect to the next, to be able to build on your story. So when you are listing your responsibilities, accomplishments, even awards, achievements, or extra-curricular activities, you want it to be something that is going to impact your application. Like Vicky said, something that is going to "add value"; something that is going to support what you are saying in your essays, and support what your recommenders are saying about you. And specifically if you are talking about extra-curricular activities college/post college, you really want to emphasize different activities where you took leadership responsibilities. Basically, with the entire application, we want to be able to evaluate what your leadership for management potential is. What have you accomplished and what is the future production that you are going to take in your career as you continue to elevate and move up in your career and take on new responsibilities, and just take in new knowledge with the MBA experience itself? So you just really want to focus on more of those impact examples that are going to help substantiate the rest of your application.

Linda Abraham: We have a couple of questions here. One is from Elijah and one is from Raphael, and they are very related. Elijah asks, "Hello, and thank you for putting this together. What types of activities are you looking for in regard to how the applicant is contributing to the Consortium mission statement? Are you looking at volunteer activities or activities in the workplace? I want to make sure I understand the scope of this question from the Consortium point of view." And Raphael's question is related. He asks, "How little should we interpret the question, specifically, what if we haven't done something to increase minority representation at the member business school or business in general, but instead have done volunteer work with minority populations? I would appreciate some guidance on this." The question is how literally are you going to take the question about showing commitment to the Consortium mission? What if they haven't specifically worked to increase minority representation at the member business schools or in business in general, but instead have done volunteer work with minority populations?

Julie Wiley UNC CHAPEL HILL: I'll answer the second one in terms of volunteer experiences verses professional endeavors that further the mission of the Consortium. From my experience, we look at those that participate in both; really it does convey a supporting of the mission of the Consortium. And take a look back at what you are doing in your personal and professional activities to support that mission; that is what we really follow up and we are looking for in terms of the candidate. The mission statement is straightforward in terms of how it is laid out. You know yourself whether you are contributing in a way that will be in line with that. So if you really are concerned, you probably could talk with one of the schools and ask them outright if you think that is something that would gauge that. But for the most part, it's fairly straightforward in terms of both volunteers and the professional endeavors you could be pursuing.

Linda Abraham: So then either one would respond to the question, right?

Julie Wiley UNC CHAPEL HILL: Right.

Kellee Scott USC: Just a quick point on that as well. One thing to also look at is the timing of it. We will definitely look at both types of it, but also do you have a history of doing it? In terms of the volunteer part, it's something different if for instance you just started volunteering yesterday. What does that mean in terms of your application process because that is something new, verses someone that has a history of doing these things as well? So it's kind of looking at the timing as well, and not just does this show across what you have been doing? And also, how you plan to do it in the future.

Linda Abraham: Jose asks, "What is the best way of addressing average grades? Can they be overcome by success in other areas?"

Julie Wiley UNC CHAPEL HILL: There are several ways to definitely address average grades, and they certainly can be outweighed by other factors that stand out in your application. You should certainly be honest about what happened in college; why your grades were perhaps average, if it was a tough semester or a tough course, a family situation. You have the opportunity to explain that type of situation. But certainly if you have outstanding career progression in your job, we are going to look at that. And also we'll look at your recommendations from supervisors who have worked with you who can attest to your skills. We'll look at your GMAT score or your GRE and see if you have strong analytical skills. We would encourage you to take community college courses in some of the coursework if you are lacking courses in some analytical courses. Or if your grades in certain courses were very low, you have the opportunity to take a community college course and excel in that course, and show us your grade. I guess those are the things that I would highlight in answer to that question.

Kellee Scott USC: There is nothing really to add to that question. Just make sure that you are comfortable with your skills set, especially in the analytical-quantitative area. And even if your grades are decent, but you haven't done things in a long time to keep your skills up to par, think about making sure that you are prepared before you even step onto any of the campuses. So it doesn't stop just with the application process; it's a continuous process to make sure that you are totally prepared by the time you would enter a program.

Linda Abraham: The next question is, "How important is it that I rank my schools on the Consortium application?"

Karen Marks DARTMOUTH: It makes no difference; it's not a factor in admissions decisions. It comes into play during the fellowship component, but in terms of your admissions decision, it doesn't play in at all.

Jon Fuller MICHIGAN: When the Admissions Committee gets an application, the rank list is electronically blacked out, and that is not actually released until we've already made our admissions decisions. That is just our own internal process for that. So just as it was mentioned, the ranking plays no factor in admissions decision or in membership; it really only comes up from a fellowship perspective.

Shana Basnight EMORY: I would just advise that you do your due diligence before you lock in your ratings because once you do, they are set in stone and you can't change them. So whether you get a chance to visit different campuses or talk to different alums that have attended different schools, do as much research as you can before you completely drop the Consortium application and put in your rankings because you only have one chance to do them.

Jon Fuller MICHIGAN: I think candidates spend some time thinking about whether there is a way to increase the likelihood of them getting a fellowship by how they rank a school, and there is a lot of agony that goes into that. The advice I give to candidates is that if Ross is your first choice, then you should rank us first. If another school is your first choice and we're your second choice, then you should put us second and you should put that other school first. Because just as it was mentioned, it's an individual decision based on the school; it just goes down the rank order of the process that is explained relatively well through the Consortium documentation that is available on their website. But don't try to over-think because it just doesn't work. So rank the order in terms of your enthusiasm of how much you want to attend that particular program.

Rebecca Dockery CONSORTIUM: I'm going to give you an Amen!

Jon Fuller MICHIGAN: Thank you!

Kellee Scott USC: Just to add a little more relief hopefully to this effort with the rankings, the process is that you are only allowed to hold one fellowship that you can call Consortium, but that doesn't stop other schools from offering you school based scholarships if you qualify for them. So the rankings may say that you are only allowed to get one scholarship that is called Consortium, but if school #3 and #4 really want you, that doesn't stop them from offering you aid outside of the Consortium scholarship, or offering you any kind of merit based money outside of the Consortium scholarship. So you are not limited in this process; the rankings do not limit you in any way.

Linda Abraham: We have a couple of questions here from people who are either self employed or are in a family business. They are asking about letters of recommendation. One wants to know, given that it's not recommended to have a family member write the recommendation, what should he do? And Daffie wanted to know how an admissions officer would view a recommendation letter that is written by a client?

Lauren Levine NYU STERN: If you work for a family business or you are self employed, I think there are really a lot of good options for recommenders. Definitely you want to avoid family members because of course they are going to be extremely biased. So I think a client is definitely appropriate. What I would focus on is choosing someone who really knows you as a business professional very well. So perhaps it's someone who you've worked as a consultant for, a client, maybe somebody who works in a different department but works closely with you on various project work. So I would say to look for the person that can really speak to your professional skills in the best way possible, but also one that would not be biased. We understand if you are self employed obviously that you can't get a current supervisor's recommendation. And you could always explain that in the optional essay.

Linda Abraham: We have a gentleman here Nahshon, and he apparently likes to learn from other people's mistakes. He has one question. "What are the typical reasons for rejection from the Consortium? And what are typical mistakes in essays specifically?"

Vicky Duran TEXAS: Some of the mistakes we see in essays are that firstly, students do not answer the questions, so we can tell that they are cutting and pasting from other essays, especially on the school specific one. Secondly, on their school specific essay, they may call us by the wrong school, expressing their enthusiasm for the University of North Carolina when it's the essay they are writing for Texas. Also spelling and grammar errors are other signs to us that you did not use a lot of your time to pay attention to the details within the essays. I think as far as the Consortium goes, we want to be able to see your commitment to diversity through the essays; that's why you are applying through the Consortium. So we want to ensure that you understand the mission of the Consortium, and that we're able to tell how you are going to commit yourself to increasing diversity in business.

Vickie Euyoque UCLA ANDERSON: I can definitely echo what Vicky said about the essay errors. They really are as simple as not necessarily reading the essay question or answering the right essay question. So I definitely have to agree that the main errors are responding to the wrong essay question or not answering it fully, grammar, typos; just being a little bit too quick when writing the essay and not really paying attention to the minor details that they feel might not be as important. And of course, when you mention a different school other than us, that is kind of a little bit of a red flag at times. This is the first year that we're part of the Consortium, so I can only assume that you want to make sure you are really able to describe how you are supporting the mission and relate different things that you are doing in that regard. If you just fail to respond to that question or you are really not demonstrating a true commitment to the mission, that is probably the number one thing that will lead to a denial from the Consortium itself.

Linda Abraham: If you are otherwise impressed with an applicant, but just not impressed with their fit with the Consortium, would you consider admitting the applicant?

Vickie Euyoque UCLA ANDERSON: I would say yes. It really depends. You can be a strong overall applicant to the specific university and just not necessarily a strong applicant for the Consortium. This is the first year that we are evaluating applications, but I would think it's still possible to get admission to a university without necessarily being admitted to the Consortium.

Lauren Levine NYU STERN: I would agree with that. When we are assessing our Consortium candidates, there are two separate decisions. One is whether they are admissible to the program, and another decision is whether they are going to become members of the Consortium. That is definitely possible, I think.

Rebecca Dockery CONSORTIUM: Just to be very clear, there are three separate and distinct steps in the decision process. The first step is being admitted to the school. If you are not admitted to the school, you are not even considered for Consortium membership. Being admitted to the school is first. If you are admitted to the school, the next step is Consortium membership. If you are approved for Consortium membership, the third and final step is that fellowship review.

Linda Abraham: So obviously, it could easily happen. That definitely clarifies. Carlos asks, I applied to two schools but before I discovered the Consortium. How will this affect my application to these schools?" Does it affect anything?

Rebecca Dockery CONSORTIUM: He should call me tomorrow; we need to chat.

Linda Abraham: There is a question here for Jonathan Fuller. "How does the mission essay give insight into the type of student that is applying?" This is from Eliza.

Jon Fuller MICHIGAN: That's a broad question. I would fall back again on what was said previously about how the different elements of the application are leveraged at different stages of the application process. So while we review the mission essay as part of the other elements of the application review when we are determining whether or not we want to admit somebody, we are not really attending to that essay later on when we are trying to make a decision. We feel that we've admitted this person, we've decided that they have something to contribute to our program; they are academically qualified, all those different things. Now we are going through the decision making process of whether or not we think they are a good fit for the Consortium, and what we are going to recommend to the Consortium's Board of Trustees in that light. So I don't really have a good answer for that. I'm sorry. I'm not sure if the question is specific enough for me to feel like I'm giving a good answer and I'm not sure what the questioner is necessarily looking for with that. So I guess I'll just stop rambling.

Lauren Levine NYU STERN: I think that the mission essay can be viewed generally in the same way as you view your other essays. And I think that you want to put a lot of care and thought into the essay the same way you would do for the other essays. So I think that most schools would probably agree that we are not looking for anything in specific in the mission essay; we are really looking to hear why you genuinely feel that you are committed to the Consortium mission, or how you are committed and what your thoughts are on it. But I think the most important thing is to be genuine and to also put some thought and time into the essay like you would with the other essays.

Linda Abraham: I was thinking as you were responding that people are just very revealing in what they say about themselves; if they took initiatives/if they didn't take initiatives, if they took responsibility/if they didn't take responsibility, if they were creative in solving a problem or developing programming and whatever. So what you did and what you choose to write about, says a lot about you whether you are responding to the mission question or any other question. Calveria asks, "What makes the Consortium application stand out to admissions staff, and how do you determine who you will say yes to?"

Karen Marks DARTMOUTH: I think it's the same again if you were applying not through the Consortium. The things that make a candidate stand out for us is somebody who has a very genuine voice and seems to be really telling us what they are passionate about, and what's important to them. Obviously someone who is very well qualified, who can handle the work, has a good work trajectory both future and past, but also just someone who really seems passionate about our school. Perhaps that is just particular for my school; I know that everybody wants school affinity, but that is something that is particularly important to us that helps somebody stand out.

Julie Wiley UNC CHAPEL HILL: I would echo all of the factors, and just add that the application should also just make sense. Why is the person applying to an MBA program? What have they done in the past? Can they leverage their skills in the future? Does it make sense for them to come to a program, and again why our program in particular? And when we look at the application, it's not just the essays but also the grades, recommendations, leadership skills, outside activities, and the interview that are all part of that as well.

Linda Abraham: Oledayo is asking, "Will a GMAT retake score be accepted after the December 20th deadline if there is an increase on the GMAT score?" Is this a school by school decision?

Rebecca Dockery CONSORTIUM; The date that we posted for your GMAT deadline, December 20th, is really a guideline to make sure you take the test early enough that the school report gets to us by that January 5th deadline. So if you are thinking about taking the test again after that, what you are going to need to do is check with each of the schools that you plan to include in your application and find out how late is too late basically. And you might get several different answers across the board, so make sure that you ask every school that you plan to include in that application. And whichever school gives you the earliest date of how late is too late, that should be your guideline as to your next test date.

Linda Abraham: Sounds good to me. Thank you all again for participating today. I want to thank Vicky Duran, Vickie Euyoque, Lilly Testa, Shana Basnight, Julie Wiley, Kellee Scott, Karen Marks, Jon Fuller and Lauren Levine. Thank you again all for participating today. I also want to give special thanks to Rebecca Dockery who is the representative from the Consortium, and has done a great job of organizing and publicizing the Q&A today.

If you have additional questions for Rebecca, please email them to recruiting@cgsm.org

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