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2012 Consortium Everything You Want to Know Q&A with Travis McAllister

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Audio for Q&A (Click to listen now, or right click and choose “Save As” to download and listen later.)

Linda Abraham: My name is Linda Abraham. I am the President of Accepted.com and the moderator of today’s Q&A. First, I want to welcome all applicants to everything you want to know about the Consortium Q&A, and you do not have to be afraid to ask. I also want to congratulate you for taking the time to learn more about the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management and to hear about its program from the perspective of the participating schools.

You need to know as much as you can in this very time-consuming and expensive application process so that you can make the most effective choices and then so that you can present yourself, again, in the most effective way. Being here today allows you to ask the Consortium experts and the school representatives about this outstanding program and their experiences in business school.

I also want to welcome our special guest for this evening, Travis McAllister, the Consortium’s Recruiting Manager. Also joining us are the following representatives from some Consortium schools.

Thanks to all for joining.

Travis, what’s new at the Consortium?

Travis McAllister: Good afternoon and good evening, everyone. One of the biggest things that I wanted to point out is something that has changed in our application. Traditionally, we used to ask that everyone would sign up for a Consortium interview, and that would be in addition to the interviews you may have at the member schools that you are applying to.

This year, the Consortium interview is no longer a part of the application. So, if you’re thinking about interviewing, you would need to contact those member schools where you’ve been applying to get more permission on their process because it’s different for each school.

Some schools will allow you to interview when you visit their campus: "Well, you can set up one now." Some schools will wait until they receive your completed application, and then they will invite you to do an interview. So, there is no Consortium interview, but the schools may require you to do an interview.

Linda Abraham: That is a big change. Thank you. Kellie, what’s new at Darden?

Kellie Sauls: I think the most exciting thing that’s new at Darden is a lot of research coming out of the Tayloe Murphy Center. Greg Fairchild is one of our professors who heads up that Center, and he recently published some research regarding the Hispanic populations and the banking industry. It’s received a lot of attention, and I think that it’s going to be used to help the banking industry really look at the Hispanic population and how they can generate interest and business at the banks with that population.

In addition to that, we recently learned that we received a top-ten ranking in The Economist’s recent publication of their rankings, and we’re very happy about that. I think those are two pretty good things.

Linda Abraham: Yeah, those sound great! Thank you very much. Libby, what’s new?

Libby Livingston: Welcome, everybody. At Goizueta, we have had an exciting fall, and we have a lot of new events going on. We have our traditional Super Saturday events that take place in the fall as well as in January, but we also are doing a lot of different events in various cities, so definitely check out our Website.

If you go to our main Website and go to our Worldwide Recruiting Calendar, you can see a lot of different events that we’re doing all over the U.S. Just last week we were in D.C. and in New York, and we’re going to be in Miami later this week. We’re also going to be back in New York and in San Francisco in early November, so we’ve got some great events going on. I encourage students to definitely come and meet us.

With the program, we have a great first semester. We actually do all of our core courses in the first semester. It’s a very rigorous semester. It’s a 15-week semester. All the other semesters are 12 weeks. It’s pretty intense and very rigorous, but students really enjoy having the core completed in that first semester so they can start taking their electives in the spring semester.

We’re planning for our mid-semester module trips that will take place in March, and we’ve got some great scheduled trips set up for that. We usually take three to four each year. So, there’s a lot of exciting stuff going on at Goizueta.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you very much. We do have a lot of questions from the applicants, and I want to get to them. Let’s dive into those. Angela asks, "What helps make the application stand out and get the attention of those making the selection?"

I’d like to hear each of you on your perspective on that. Travis, do you want to start?

Travis McAllister: I do want to defer to the schools first on this one because the first decision that will be made on your application is the Admissions’ decision. So I definitely want to bring the schools back in on that one.

Kellie Sauls: Okay, I’ll take that first. I think what helps an application to stand out is, first and foremost, just making sure that you complete the application to the full degree. It can be a little bit unsettling to review an application and see a lot of blank spaces, and we can get really creative when it comes time to filling in that space. So, one is making sure that everything is complete, that everything has been filled out.

Then, you dive a little deeper. Of course, we’re going to look at your academic background. All the components of the application need to be significantly strong. It’s a competitive process, so if you have some things that you’ve done in your background that really stand out and that are unique, if you bring those things out, it’s a really great way to make your application stand out. It pretty much starts with the basics: just making sure that you get the application completed, and then just making sure that each area is as strong as it possibly can be.

I think a really great area that a lot of applicants tend to overlook in terms of helping your application stand out is the letters of recommendation. Granted, that part of the application isn’t really in your control, but it’s a great way for someone who’s not intimately involved in the application process to substantiate all of the wonderful things that you’ve said in the other parts of the application; but also call out specific examples in regard to your strengths professionally. That’s another area I would call out.

Of course, each school has a supplemental application case that’s specific to the school, so that’s where you can really show a fit for a particular school. You can demonstrate that you’ve done your due diligence in terms of your research and that you know which particular aspects of your learning style and of your background that really fit with the school. I think that’s going to bring a lot of good attention to your application because schools are not only looking for people who can perform academically well in their programs, but people who can contribute to the community of the school.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you very much. Anything else to add on that, Libby? I think it’s a really important question.

Libby Livingston: Sure. I think that what Kellie has said is great and that all that information is very important. I think you should try to visit the schools that you’re planning to apply to to show your interest and that you know a lot about the program.

I think, as Kellie mentioned, through the individual school essays, oftentimes you can share information about the program and why you feel it’s a good fit. I think that really stands out to an Admissions committee if someone seems like they visited and that they’re genuinely interested in the program.

I think it’s important to definitely take the time to learn about the program and visit if you can. If you can’t visit, there are lots of webinars and webcasts that you can participate in to get to know the school.

Linda Abraham: We had a question come in, actually, before the Q&A, and we have several similar questions here now. Will asks, "I’d like to know how the Consortium Admissions Committee values its applicants that are not of African, Latin, or Native American descent. I’m Korean-American (and there’s another question here from somebody who’s Chinese-American) but have spent the past two years in Malawi as a Peace Corps volunteer assisting secondary students to do education at the university level. I hope to return to Africa after my MBA to further develop their education system. Will my candidacy be considered for a Consortium fellowship? If not, what will happen to my application if I’m not selected as a fellow?"

Travis McAllister: Those are a lot of wonderful questions that I get, and all of our member schools get them all the time as well. Let me take a stab at each of those questions.

Let me first say that you have to be a U.S. citizen or a U.S. permanent resident in order to be a part of the Consortium, and you must have a Bachelor’s degree. Those are the requirements. You don’t have to be a member of what we call the Consortium’s "target constituencies", which are African-American, Native American, and Hispanic-American. As long as you are a U.S. citizen or a U.S. permanent resident with a Bachelor’s degree, you are eligible.

Now, the other part of that is how you express your commitment to the Consortium’s mission. I do want to say it. I’m going to try to post this before the end of this chat just to show you where you can find this information. On our website under the Perspective Students section, not only do we have the application and the instructions, but this year there’s something else that’s new. We’ve posted what we call the Consortium Membership Guidelines. This is intended to guide you through some ideas that you have so that you know that you are committing to the Consortium’s mission. We’re looking for anyone who can show that what you are doing can fit with the Consortium in pursuing its mission of supporting African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Native Americans.

We’re looking in terms of demonstrated commitment and in terms of time and effort. So, this is going to be more than a one-time circumstance, that exposure to those three target groups. However, you do not need to be a member of those target groups in order to apply to the Consortium.

There’s a lot more into that. I want to be able to post this on our site so that you can all go there and hopefully now, maybe look at some of this information because it’s a lot more to go into than the time will allow me. In essence, that is broad, so it gives you some more open space to choose from to things when you’re thinking, "Am I committing to the Consortium’s mission?"

I don’t want to get into the thing of saying, "Will the Peace Corps work? Will this work?" Looking at this document will give you a good glimpse; and then, of course, you can always contact us later. Contact the Consortium if you have any follow-up questions.

Linda Abraham: Thank you very much, Travis, and thank you, Will for the question. I’m not sure if he’s here or not.

We also have a couple of questions from a couple of different people on core essay #1. Nate gives the question, which is, "Please describe your short- and long-term goals, post-MBA. How has your professional experience shaped these goals and influenced your decision to pursue an MBA degree?"

He asks, "Should we also describe why we believe an MBA degree is imperative, especially if it does not happen to necessarily match with our professional experience?" In other words, they’re a career-changer. That’s from Nate on question #1.

Aissatou also asks, "What is the word limit or page limit for essay #1?"

Travis McAllister: I will say that you don’t have a lot of space, and we do post some limits here. We found this on our application instructions that are also online at our website, CGSM.org. It says, "Limit each essay to no more than two double-spaced pages." In essence, for your core essays, you are attaching a document.

Now, for your school essays – which is not part of the question – they may be different. You’re going to have to post in a text box in the system. For your core essays, though, you should be able to attach those essays there because it says to limit each essay to no more than two double-spaced pages. There’s your limit there.

Thinking about what the question is, make sure that, first and foremost, you are answering the question. If you think you have space to throw in some of your other thoughts as far as what that question was referring to, that’s fine. However, make sure you’re answering this question, describing your long- and short-terms goals post-MBA.

Also, "How has your professional experience shaped these goals and influenced your decision to pursue this degree?" is the question you want to make sure you answer. You should devote all the space that you have to answering that question.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you very much. William asks "On the Consortium online application in the section Membership, you ask for a mission recommender. Can this person be the same person as one of your MBA recommenders?"

Travis McAllister: No. Get three different people to do the recommendations. You should have two professional recommenders and one mission recommender. Ideally, your professional recommender is going to be a supervisor, someone who has work experience with you. In most cases, that eliminates that person from even being a possible mission or membership recommender. For that, you want someone who can attest to what you have done in support of the Consortium’s mission.

Linda Abraham: Right. That will almost always be somebody different. On the other question on the mission letter recommendation, from Angelique, "The application says to refer to the mission portion of the application, but there is not an option there to submit after entering the name and e-mail. Should the Consortium recommender be submitted via the same form as the professional recommendation?" How do you submit the thing?

Travis McAllister: With the recommendations, there are two parts. For your professional recommendation, there’s a dashboard on the left side of the application portal. At the bottom of that, you see Recommendations and Check Your Application. Recommendations is where you’re going to post your professional recommendations only. You only have space to identify two people, and those are your professional recommendations.

You will identify your membership recommender in the Membership section of the application. You see a couple of spots. You have the top end, where you’re identifying your membership recommender, your name and e-mail address.

Then there’s an essay, and that’s the essay that you have to answer for membership, where you’re demonstrating your commitment to the Consortium’s mission. You don’t have to complete that in one sitting, of course. So if all you want to do is put in your recommender, just hit Save, and the next day that e-mail will be sent to your membership recommender. All you have to do is hit Save.

Linda Abraham: Alright, and then it’s handled. Basically, they don’t have to worry about it anymore.

Travis McAllister: Right.

Linda Abraham: The next one is for Libby and Kellie. It’s from Jeffrey: "How do Admissions counselors view applications submitted via the Consortium pipeline versus applications submitted conventionally?" Is it a plus, negative, or neutral?

Libby Livingston: We look at them the same way. Basically, when we get a Consortium application from the Consortium, we input it, and it’s put in with all of our other applications. We feel that if someone meets the mission of the Consortium, they should definitely apply to the Consortium because there are so many benefits to the Consortium. So, we would encourage students to definitely apply to the Consortium, and we look at those applications exactly the same way as our regular applications.

If you apply for the first application done on the Consortium that falls within this round of our deadline – to give students an idea of the timeline – they just kind of flow right into all the other applications that we receive.

Kellie Sauls: The same is true at Darden. There is no difference. The only difference comes in how we receive the applications. Once we get it, it goes through the Admissions Committee just the same as any other application.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Thank you. Another question I think could be for all three of you, but let’s start with Libby and Kellie. "How important is a quantitative background when applying to MBA programs? For an applicant who is lacking quantity of both academic and professional contacts, do you advise taking additional coursework before applying, or is a solid GMAT score enough?" Good question.

Kellie Sauls: I think the first place we’re going to look for your quantitative ability is on your transcript, through your undergraduate education. If it’s not there, then we’re going to see if you have that in your professional work experience. If it’s not there, then we’re really going to take a look at that GMAT score and see how well you performed on the quant. So, it has to be somewhere in your application to let us know how well you might perform quantitatively in our MBA program.

Let’s say that the quants were maybe a little on the average side on the GMAT. Then we may actually follow up in some way and ask, "Have you taken an additional class since your undergraduate degree that could demonstrate your quantitative ability?" Or, we may even schedule some type of feedback call with you – that may come before a decision is released or after a decision is released – and make some recommendations for you to help us understand how well you might perform quantitatively.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you very much. For Travis from Alma: "What are the requirements for the fellowship, and are you required to work with a sponsor company?"

Travis McAllister: I’m assuming this means once you are awarded the fellowship. Continue to be a good student.

Linda Abraham: I think the question is "What are the requirements to get the fellowship?" That’s how I interpreted it.

Travis McAllister: Okay. I’ll take that. When you’re applying for the fellowship, your application for the Consortium is your application for business school, which is your application for Consortium membership and the fellowship, so it’s an all-in-one application.

I think that’s the beauty of the Consortium in providing this common application through our 17-member schools. It’s an all-in-one application. Once you hit Submit, of course the Consortium staff is going to check and make sure it’s complete, but then we send it to the schools, and that’s everything. The schools are going to be looking at admission, we’re going to be looking at the membership, and then the schools are going to choose the fellowship; and it’s an all-in-one thing.

As far as the sponsor companies, we have 80 corporate partners. Of course, this is going to be once you have earned the fellowship and you are doing your MBA, and you actually get your MBA. You’re not required to work with a sponsor company. We answer that plainly because you may not get an offer from them. So, the biggest thing is you’re going to have that MBA and you have 80 corporate partners that you can always come to. Hopefully, we’ll have more in that time. The reality is that you might not get an offer from them. So, we’re not going to say, "You must work with them," if they don’t give you an offer.

Linda Abraham: Great.

Kellie Sauls: Can I just add something to that? On the school’s side, when we’re evaluating for fellowship, we treat it just like we would if we were evaluating for any other scholarship to be awarded from the school. It goes through a scholarship review committee, and then that committee basically decides, "Is this person eligible to receive a full tuition award for two years at our school?"

Once that decision is made, then we proceed through the Consortium process. We go to the meeting in March, and if we become eligible to offer the people that we’ve already selected that we would award a fellowship, then we will go ahead and make that offer. However, there’s no additional type of requirement in regard to working for a sponsor company or anything else like that. It really goes through a scholarship review process, just like we would for any other applicant we’re considering for scholarships.

Linda Abraham: Alright. Thank you. The next question is for Libby. It’s from David who asks, "Since the core courses are finished in the first semester, does that make it possible for students to take two, three, or four concentrations?"

Libby Livingston: Basically, students can take two or three concentrations, I would say. Most probably do two concentrations. You need three to four electives to do a concentration, and you have up to about 15 electives if you do the two-year program. So, there’s lots of flexibility. I’d be surprised if people do four.

We get a lot of students here who are interested in a particular area, but then they’re also interested in entrepreneurship that they want to do a few years later after they’ve graduated and worked for several years. So, that’s something that they may be interested in doing.

As well, we have a leadership concentration, so students are oftentimes interested in adding that to an area; and someone might think about consulting. So, you could see somebody combine marketing with consulting and entrepreneurship. It does allow you to do more than one concentration, for sure, with having all the core done in the first semester.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you very much. We have a couple of questions about whether the Consortium supports full-time online programs; for example, MBA at UNC or part-time in the evening MBA program. Travis, could you comment on that?

Travis McAllister: I can easily answer that question. The Consortium only is supporting full-time programs with the notable exception of Emory. This year we are also going with Emory’s one-year MBA. That is the only exception.

Linda Abraham: So, it’s still a full-time program. It’s just one year as opposed to two years.

Travis McAllister: Right. It’s full time, but it’s a one-year program. Everything else is a two-year full-time MBA program. So, at Emory you can do one year or you can do the two-year.

Linda Abraham: Wonderful. Thank you for clarifying. From M.: "Since Emory and Darden both accept GRE scores, what are your GRE score ranges?" I’m going to add a question for both Libby and Kellie. Is there any preference between the GRE and the GMAT?

Libby Livingston: This is our first year accepting the GRE, so we do not have ranges to share or averages, but we accept both, so we do not have a preference on the tests. We accept both.

Linda Abraham: There’s no difference? There’s no edge if you use a GMAT over the GRE? What are you looking at? Do you look at percentile scores? What are you evaluating?

Libby Livingston: The quant section is very important in both tests, and we’re definitely going to be looking at that. I know some students have been interested to see how their GRE compares to a GMAT. I know that you can get online and stick in your GRE score to see what it would be with the GMAT.

Our GMAT average this past year was a 680. Sometimes that’s helpful. If you just Google "GRE-GMAT comparison," it’ll come up and you can stick your GRE score in to see what that would be equivalent to with the GMAT. A 680 is our average GMAT score.

Linda Abraham: Kellie, do you have a preference for the GMAT over the GRE?

Kellie Sauls: No, we have no preference. We’re going into our third year accepting the GRE. Frankly, it’s such a small subset of our applicants that use the GRE, we’re not reporting any averages or ranges. We just feel like there’s not statistical significance at this point in reporting that data. We are taking the GRE and will consider to do so, and we have no preference for which score to submit.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Thank you. Kendra asks, "Many people say to treat your application as real estate: use the space wisely. To what extent should you reinforce themes throughout your application – essays, résumés, letters of recommendation, et cetera – versus continually introducing new information about yourself?" Kellie, do you want to take that first?

Kellie Sauls: Sure. That’s a tough call. It’s one of those decisions that you really have to think about. I don’t know that I could recommend either way. I think there may be some benefit to having themes throughout. I think if you have some additional information, but it still runs along the same theme, it just underscores and supports what you’ve stated earlier in your application; but there may be some benefit to highlighting something new. So, it’s really hard to say unless I know specifically your story and what you’re trying to share. It’s just a tough call that an applicant has to make.

Linda Abraham: Libby, do you have something to add for that one?

Libby Livingston: I agree with Kellie. I think that it is a tough call. You want to be consistent in what you’re sharing. With what you share as your goals in your essay and then when you do your interview in sharing similar information, I think it’s very important in showing a consistency within your story in different parts.

Linda Abraham: From my perspective – obviously I’m not on the Admissions Committee – I think you have to see what you feel is best representing you in your application. I think that, sometimes, people are too concerned about having a brand or repeating themes or something like that. We are complex human beings with multiple interests, talents, and achievements. You certainly want to bring those out, and they probably will dovetail if you’re doing a good job. That’s my experience as somebody who reads an awful lot of essays. This one’s quite a decision-making role that Libby and Kellie have.

Okay, let’s return to the questions. Richard asks – and it’s probably more for Kellie and Libby again – "Do the Admissions Committees have a quota for Consortium applicants?"

Kellie Sauls: No.

Libby Livingston: No.

Shandra Jones: No, we do not.

Linda Abraham: Danielle asks, "There are two deadlines listed on the Consortium Website: November 15 and January 5. Is there an advantage to applying to either one of those deadlines, or is there an advantage to applying just early in the cycle? Are both applications submitted at both dates equally considered?" So, is timing a factor?

Libby Livingston: We want you to turn in your application when you feel you have your best application. I think that a benefit of applying early is that you’ll get an earlier decision from us, but we really encourage students to apply when they feel that their application is the best and that they can present the strongest application. If that takes taking that extra time to do January, we encourage you to do that, and we’re going to evaluate all applications that come in by either of those deadline dates. If they’re completed on those dates, they’re going to be fully considered for membership as well as fellowship.

Linda Abraham: Thank you. Is there anything to add on that one?

Kellie Sauls: I would agree. I think there are a couple of things to keep in mind. This second deadline is where we receive the majority of the applications, so it’s a very popular round.

Also keep in mind that you’re not just only competing for Consortium fellowships to some of the schools. You’re also competing for other scholarships, and those scholarships may have some time constraints, so keep that in mind as well. Make sure that you do your research about when those deadlines are, too. I just wanted to call that out.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you. I’m wondering right now if we could ask our audience, how many of you at this point in time – you have to raise your hand if you are definitely applying for the Consortium. I’ll just give it a minute, and we’ll see how many people here are definitely applying for the Consortium.

Travis McAllister: Hey, Linda, while we wait on that, I just want to give out an extra statistic. In our applications from last year, between the rounds we had 79% of our applications received for the January 5. You can do the math. That’s 21%. So, that’s just something that gives people an idea of how many applications we received and at what volume.

Linda Abraham: So, it sounds like most apply for the second deadline, correct?

Travis McAllister: They do.

Linda Abraham: Of the people here today, 51% have definitely decided to apply. I assume the other people are doing research, which is also very valuable. I was just kind of curious.

Let’s go back to your questions, now that I’ve got mine out of the way. Ashley asks, "Are member school able to view other schools you are applying to and/or rankings of those other schools." Travis?

Travis McAllister: They can see that you’re applying to other schools, but the ranking does not have any effect on your application until we get to the fellowship round.

Linda Abraham: Can the schools see the relative rankings applicants have assigned to the different schools?

Travis McAllister: Schools, correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe they can’t.

Kellie Sauls: Yes, they can see those.

Travis McAllister: Okay. Let me also throw in there that, again, that has no effect on your application except when it comes to the fellowship. What I mean is that, if you’re at the fellowship round, the school that you have ranked number one is the first school that can offer you a fellowship. You can only get one fellowship offer at a time. If that number-one school does not offer you the fellowship, then we move down to the second school on your application, and we keep going in that manner until you either run out of schools or someone offers you the fellowship. So, that’s where the rankings come into play.

Shandra Jones: I simply add, to piggyback on Travis’ point, that ranking number one allows the school you ranked number one the first opportunity to offer you the Consortium Fellowship, which is named the Consortium Fellowship, although it comes from the whole funding. That does not preclude any of the schools – no matter what you ranked them, one through six – from offering you a selection of fellowship opportunities from their portfolio. As Kellie just mentioned, you are still competing for an opportunity to be awarded any of our fellowships that we offer, but only one school can offer you the Consortium Fellowship.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you. Achmed asks, "Will the schools we apply to see our mission essays and letters of recommendation?"

Travis McAllister: The schools will not see your mission recommendation or essay this year. They will not see any of the membership pieces.

Linda Abraham: Jeffrey asks, "If not selected as a fellow, does my application follow the normal course of application to member schools, or do I have to reapply directly to the school?" Shandra, why don’t you start off with that one? Will he still be considered for admission?

Shandra Jones: Let me clarify the actual steps. There are three steps to the decision process. There are three different decisions that must be made on any one application, and that may not be clear as yet for the people on the Webinar.

Once the Consortium has received a completed application, then they – acting as a clearinghouse – will send all the application materials to the one-through-six schools that you have selected. Then the schools will make an admission decision independently.

Once the admission decision is made – yea, nay, or wait list, but let’s say that you’re admitted to all six schools that you selected – then the next decision is actually made internally by the Consortium, looking at only your admission rec, admission essay, and that is whether or not you qualify for membership to the Consortium.

Then the third and final decision – and really, in this order – falls back on the schools. Once we have a list of all those Consortium applicants who have been admitted and have been awarded membership, then we will determine which of those we will offer the Consortium fellowship to.

So, by not being granted a fellowship, that happens so much later in the process, you will be treated as a standard applicant within each school’s applicant pool. That’s why we try to re-emphasize that you’re still competing all along the way for all of our fellowship opportunities and really any of our opportunities that are available, whether that be assistantships or other programs that we may offer.

So, yes, if you are not granted the Fellowship, you are definitely still considered as a standard applicant to our programs. Does that answer the question?

Linda Abraham: I think so. Libby and Kellie, do you have anything to add, or does that pretty much cover it for your schools too?

Kellie Sauls: That was thorough. Very nice, Shandra.

Linda Abraham: Joseph asks, "Good evening, everyone. What is the percentage of people who apply that actually receive a fellowship? Also, if I apply for two schools and am only accepted by my second choice, how does that affect my chances of receiving the Consortium Fellowship?

Travis McAllister: I have the exact numbers, at least from last year, when we had 1,000 submitted applications. I’m going to add an extra number in there. Out of that thousand, 534 of them were offered admission into one of the schools on their application. Of all those numbers, 334 Consortium Fellowships were offered.

Linda Abraham: That’s fantastic! Those are great numbers.

Travis McAllister: Yeah, 33%.

Linda Abraham: David asks – and this is kind of an interesting question – "As a Consortium member, what obligations are expected of you? Are they actual, tangible time obligations or are they soft obligations, such as making sure you’re presenting the Consortium in a positive way?"

Travis McAllister: I’m going to take a stab at it, and then of course, the schools can follow me up on this one. I’m going to go with the soft obligations, at least on the Consortium’s end. Your obligation to us is to succeed as a Consortium student, representing the Consortium world by being in good standing at your member school. I think that’s where it starts.

It’s almost like any other scholarship. You want to make sure you’re in good standing, and you want to make sure that you’re attending classes and doing all those things. There are no hard obligations from the Consortium once you are chosen as a Consortium member and fellow.

Libby Livingston: I’m just going to say that I agree, but I think that as someone that’s receiving a scholarship – and a large scholarship – we do expect them to be leaders on campus and to assist in the recruiting process and definitely be an active member in the community. I think that that’s kind of our expectation of our scholars and fellows.

Kellie Sauls: I think at Darden it’s similar as at Emory. We actually provide a list to our Consortium students about possible things that they can be actively engaged in. We meet with them once a semester to talk about their leadership in the community and see where they are. It’s soft obligations, but there are some specific expectations as well.

Shandra Jones: We function very similar to UVA’s model, which is soft obligations, but we do express our expectations up front and we do check in with our Consortium students on a very regular basis; not only in terms of how they remain engaged in the community and taking leadership roles and advantage of extracurricular opportunities, but also to see where they may need any other type of support or resources for assistance.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you. We have several questions in the list about GMAT scores: "What is the GMAT range? What is an acceptable GMAT score?" I assume there’s some difference based on school, but could you address that question? I guess that would be for all of you, really. Travis, do you want to start?

Travis McAllister: Of course. I’m going to end up referring to the schools because this is something I learned from all of them after my first dealing with the Consortium. We actually publish some of this information, based on what the schools have provided on their Websites. If you have a Consortium account, you can go on your VIP page and actually click on our class profile for each school, and that gives you some averages and ranges.

When you’re thinking about applying, you want to give equal weight to every portion of your application, not just your GMAT or your GRE scores. The member schools are looking at every part. Not only that, they’re looking at your undergraduate GPA and they’re looking at the strength of your application. They’re looking at those essays. They’re looking at the recommendations. They’re also going to give equal weight to when you do an interview at those schools. So, they’re looking at every piece of the application, not just a GMAT or GRE score.

Linda Abraham: Thank you. Shandra, Libby, or Kellie, do you have anything to add in terms of the GMAT and the role of the GMAT in your evaluation? Kellie, do you want to start?

Kellie Sauls: Sure. One of the things I like to point out is that the GMAT, although it’s given a lot of attention and a lot of weight across the board in many different ways, if it’s not your area of strength, then we’re going to look for other ways to evaluate how you might perform in our academic environment and what you have to contribute to our community. It’s truly a holistic process, and I don’t want anyone to underestimate what they could possibly bring to our community or what they could gain from our community just based on a GMAT score.

Now, mind you, you can look on our Websites. We post what our 80% range is. We post what our average is. It’ll kind of give you an idea. One thing I don’t want to do is put someone in an awkward situation with a low GMAT score, and they find out that they have the lowest score in the class. I’m really careful about how we position someone for success at Darden.

So, if we’re going to bring someone in with a lower GMAT score, we’re going to make sure that they have the tools to succeed. We’re going to support them through the process. Again, though, there are going to be other things that they bring that are special, strong, and unique, and that we feel like we can’t do without in our community. So, I don’t want anyone to underestimate their abilities just because their GMAT score may be a little lower.

Libby Livingston: One thing that I would add is that some students ask the question if they should retake the test. Should they take the test again? I think that if you think that you’re capable of a better score to definitely consider retaking it. I don’t know of a school that averages them, but I think most take the highest score. So, we do encourage candidates that if they’ve only taken it one time and they feel that they’re capable of a better score to definitely consider retaking it.

Linda Abraham: Shandra, do you want to add anything?

Shandra Jones: No. I really think that Libby and Kellie covered it all. The 80% percentile ranges that are published for all the schools will give you a pretty strong indication of where at least the majority of our class lies.

The reality is that we do look at the entire application. Of course, test scores are still something that we do take into consideration because, as Kellie mentioned, we want you to be successful, not just in gaining admission, but in succeeding in our academic program and then, frankly, onto your career search. Especially for those who may be interested in careers where the recruiters do take a look at your test scores and do request that you report your test scores, we want to make sure you’re prepared for that.

So make sure, as Libby says, that you don’t shy away from taking it again because most applicants will have taken the test at least two times; sometimes three times is not uncommon. Make sure that you are well prepared each time you sit for the exam and that you really think critically about the type of support you need in preparing for the exam; whether that be self-preparation or if that means a class – if that’s an online class or in-person class – and you need coaching on certain sections to help you through some trouble spots. So really think critically and think about it as an investment.

Linda Abraham: For people who either have a low GMAT score or haven’t taken much math, there’s a question here about MBA math from Arshbir, "What do you think about MBAMath.com as a measure of quant skills or as a means to demonstrate quant skills?"

Shandra Jones: As they’re probably school-specific, you may want to reach out to different schools that you’re interested in and get their perspective on that. At UNC, we are perfectly comfortable with the preparation that is provided through MBAMath.

This process is really about, as I said, making sure that you’ve been exposed to this material and are comfortable with the material that’s coming at you because it does come at you in a very fast pace and at a high level; so at least getting that exposure, especially if you haven’t had a quantitative background in undergrad or since then in your career. It could be very helpful for us when we’re looking at the application to make sure that you’ve demonstrated a comfort level with fast-paced quantitative subject matter.

Linda Abraham: Wonderful.

Libby Livingston: One thing I was going to add, too, is that even after someone gets admission, sometimes the schools will require them to take some foundation courses before they actually enroll in the program, just to make sure that they’re completely prepared. A lot of schools may call it "boot camp."

We have online work a student needs to do. Sometimes we require it, but sometimes people just do it because they’re interested in getting ready. Then we have some in-person sessions that they do before the program starts; so, oftentimes, just kind of getting in the correct frame of mind to start a very rigorous core class semester.

Shandra Jones: Absolutely. The only thing I would add to that is that those are absolutely offered at almost every school in the Consortium member school list, and they are extremely valuable. However, I would hesitate to tell anyone to let that be the only way they plan to prepare for the MBA program’s quantitative subject matter. As you can imagine, we all see thousands of applications because you’re not just competing with Consortium applicants. You’re competing with all of our applicants to gain admission and compete for fellowships.

There are lots of people who will say, "Yes, I do plan to take your summer prep classes," or "Yes, I do plan to enroll in these three MBA courses." However, it’s a much stronger statement if someone can show us in the application that they have already enrolled in something; they’ve already identified an area in their background that could be strengthened and have proactively taken steps towards doing that. That’s a much stronger statement in the application.

Linda Abraham: Cameron asks, "Does the Consortium allow JD MBA applicants?" Travis?

Travis McAllister: Yes, we do. In each of our school-specific applications or school supplement areas, many of them will address that. They will ask a question saying, "Are you planning to apply for a dual degree?"

Some do JD, some do MPA, the public health one as well. We do welcome the dual-degree applicants. Keep in mind that if you are awarded the Consortium Fellowship, the Consortium Fellowship will only cover your MBA portion. So, just keep that in mind.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Nathan asks, "Thank you for organizing this forum. When do applicants typically hear back on acceptance from Universities?" I guess that varies from school to school. "Also, is there any way to hear back on the status of the fellowship before March 15?"

Travis McAllister: No.

Linda Abraham: Okay, that’s easy.

Libby Livingston: With the admission decision, it would really vary from school to school. However, I think that most schools will list – if they apply November 15 – what round that would have them fall in and when they would most likely get a decision.

Linda Abraham: Great. I think we are going to wind down now. I want to thank Travis, Kellie, Shandra, and Libby for joining us today. If you have additional questions for the Consortium team, please e-mail them to recruiting@CGSM.org.

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Once more, thank you all for joining us today. It’s been an excellent session. I really want to thank Kellie, Libby, Shandra, and Travis for their highly informative answers.

I want to just wish all of you good luck with your applications. I hope you get that fellowship. It’s a tremendous help. Have a good evening. Thank you very much.

Travis McAllister: Thank you, everyone.

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