2012 Cornell Johnson MBA Admissions Q&A II with Christine Sneva, Ann Richards and Laurie Shunney McCloskey
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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 Q&A. 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 Cornell Johnson’s MBA program. It is critical to your decision making process and your admission chances that you know as much as you can about the schools you are applying to. Being here today allows you to ask experts about this top business school.
I also want to give a special welcome to Christine E. Sneva, Director of Admissions & Financial Aid, Ann W. Richards, Associate Director of Admissions and Director of Financial Aid, and Laurie Shunney McCloskey, Assistant Director of Admissions and Financial Aid. Thanks to everyone for joining.
The last 4-6 weeks have been a very exciting time at Johnson. Can you give us a brief overview of what is new?
Christine Sneva: There has been some exciting news coming out of Johnson and Cornell University. The first came just before the end of the year when we won the Tech Campus in NYC, over Stanford and some other wonderful institutions. It looks like Cornell University, as well as Johnson, will have a bigger presence in the major city. We are located in Ithaca, which is about three and half hours away from the city. We do like our small city, but the access to NYC has always been a great thing for us. And having a bigger presence in NYC means a lot more for our programming, and certainly for what we can do for the area.
We’ve been getting a lot of questions from people on how we are going to be involved. Just how involved we are going to be is still in the process of being formulated. But so far, I do know that we will have programs coming out of NY. We are joining the NY Tech Campus within technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship, which is very strong here at Johnson. We have a new institute, the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Institute. Coupled with our other institutes and centers, it is something that is obviously a big plus coming out of Johnson, and a lot of the research and entrepreneurship activity comes from there.
The second thing is that our new dean has been announced. It is Dean Soumitra Dutta. He is coming from INSEAD. His background in global business, innovation, and technology, obviously is quite parallel with what we are doing with the Tech Campus here already inside Johnson. Also his global strategy certainly will be taking Johnson to the next level. So we are thrilled to have him on board as part of the Johnson family.
Today is a big day for us. Today, round three is due. So for those of you who are considering applying, please let us know if you have any questions. We know you want to feel good before hitting that "Submit" button.
The last thing I want to mention is that you will constantly be hearing about what goes on in our process. So for those of you on the waitlist or those thinking about applying round four, continue to follow the admission blog that I post. I try to get there every week, but this time of year is busy, so I’ll try to get there at least every two weeks to let you know where we are in the process and what we’re doing. And if we start to see a lot of consistency with some common questions, I’ll try to get those answered up on the blog. But also feel free to respond to me through that blog. That’s another great way to reach out to us here if you don’t want to do that over email.
Linda Abraham: Before we get to the applicants’ questions, I’d like to launch a poll to the applicants so that we have some idea of where everybody is at. I’d like to know what stage you are at in your application process. Are you at a point where you are researching schools? Have you submitted your application? Have you been interviewed and are you waiting for results? Or are you waitlisted? Here are the results: 31% are researching the schools to apply to and are working on their applications—I guess for either round 4 or next year. 29% have submitted their application. 4% have interviewed and are waiting for results. 40% are waitlisted. And 2% are "other". How is the waitlist going to be handled?
Christine Sneva: This year we have a different approach to our waitlist, and I’m sure that is why we see a good representation on the line right now. There are some applicants that have been waitlisted, who went through the entire process, including an interview. And there are some applicants that were waitlisted that have not gone through the interview yet. That is what we consider our "standby" pool at this point. You are still considered waitlisted, and we will continue, as we go through the season, to be looking at those files for consideration to go into our interview mix as well. This year, we have had an increase in applications, and so to make sure that we got through all of our applications, we’ve had to create a standby pool with some of our applicants. So if you are one of those applicants that were waitlisted without an interview, know that you are still being considered. And the next decision that you are looking for is an invite to go for an interview, which is what we are still considering.
In terms of the waitlist, we look at the waitlist just around the time when the previous round has deposited. So for example, the round 1 deposit is due next week on Tuesday, and we also have a deposit deadline the following week on February 7th. In between that time, we will be looking at the waitlist. Some of the things that we are looking at are people that have been active; those people that have updated information for us, whether that was through a recommendation, whether they retook tests, anything that they changed during the reflection process to bring a better application or strengthen their application. We look at that constantly, so it’s something that we are always looking at. I don’t want anyone to think that the waitlist is just a list that we defer people to and we’ll look at you in another couple of months. That is definitely not the case. And the more active that you stay with us, it certainly helps. Because the people on the waitlist need to decide whether this is going to be the school that ultimately you would choose, should you come off the waitlist. So we certainly hope that is what you are considering when you are in the process of updating your application and working with us.
Ann Richards: I would tell those candidates on the waitlist to think carefully about critical information that can help us in the decision-making process. Then I would encourage you—if you think you can get a stronger recommendation that will support your candidacy, if you have been promoted, if you have retaken the GMAT or the GRE and you have a new score you want to share with us—please send that to your application manager. We do want you to keep in contact with us, but there is a fine line between being proactive and being a stalker. So be careful about trying to call us on a daily basis. I think it’s best if you try to funnel all your information through your application manager, because they are the ones that will make sure that all the information you provide gets updated and added to your application itself.
Linda Abraham: One question that occurred to me is – is there any difference in terms of one’s chances if you are waitlisted after the interview, as opposed to being waitlisted before the interview?
Christine Sneva: It’s the first time that we’ve had to really do that this year, so I don’t have any data to back that up. The way that I’ve looked at that is that I would say no. The only difference is in the interview. You’ve been able to present yourself in a different way and offer a different first impression than we are getting from the actual application. So for those that could be on that "waitlist without interview" or "standby" pool, if you haven’t visited the school before, maybe this is the time you should consider doing that. We are a small class and we have the benefit of being very selective on the people that we do offer admission to. And many times, those are the people we feel are going to be successful here, and more importantly, really want to be here. So if you’ve waited to visit Johnson, this might be a good time for you to do that.
Like Ann said, it’s good to follow up with your application manager to let them know that you are visiting and when you’ll be in town. And please know that that information is getting back to us. So we will know when you are visiting. We know when somebody that is on the waitlist right now is here, and certainly that will give us reason to go back to that application and see whether or not we have to have a conversation about that or bring that to committee.
Linda Abraham: Let’s get to the applicants’ questions. Jordan asks, "I have a question regarding your MBA MPS-RE dual degree. I already applied to the program in Real Estate; I am applying today to Johnson. For the accelerated two-year MBA MPS-Real Estate program, do I have to apply to Johnson’s two-year MBA or the accelerated MBA?"
Ann Richards: The Real Estate program really prefers that students in the dual degree program start with them. So you do need to submit both applications at the same time, but in terms of your enrollment, they want you to spend your first year at the Real Estate program. If you intend to do that accelerated dual degree with the Real Estate program, you must confirm with the Real Estate program that they will allow you to do that. They are such a small program; there are only a certain number of students that they allow to participate in that accelerated dual degree.
The accelerated dual degree is the program where you spend two semesters with the Real Estate program, and then you begin the MBA program in the summer. You spend the summer two semesters with us, and then one more semester in the Real Estate program. Within the traditional Real Estate program, you spend a year with them, a year with us, and your third year is split with one semester at Real Estate and one semester at Johnson. But in any event, if you want to do the accelerated program, you need to get a confirmation from the Real Estate program that they’ve approved you to do that, apply to both schools at the same time, make sure you let us know that you are pursuing the dual degree, and you’ll be all set.
Linda Abraham: I’m assuming that the accelerated program is more for people who are already in real estate and that there are no internships there; maybe they are sponsored, maybe they are in a family business or something like that. And the regular program is more for those without that kind of background or career changers. Is that correct?
Ann Richards: Our Real Estate program really looks for people with prior experience, regardless of whether they are doing that accelerated program or they are doing the traditional dual degree. They like to see students or applicants with some exposure and experience in the field of real estate. The accelerated program is really for people with strong quantitative skills. Those are the candidates who can complete the core in the accelerated pace that we do over the course of the summer.
Linda Abraham: Jamie asks, "Can you discuss a little bit about the "Park Leadership Fellows Program"?
Christine Sneva: Our Park Leadership Fellows Program is two points. One is for those students who apply and are selected to be a Park Fellow, and that is a full-tuition fellowship. That is something that most candidates are looking for. You do have to submit an additional essay that we review. And then when we are considering an application for admission, if the applicant also applied for the Park Fellowship, we will consider bringing you into our Scholarship Weekend as a finalist. The purpose of our Scholarship Weekend is to take the top applicants within a round and we will consider them for our prominent named scholarships, including the Park Fellowships.
Linda Abraham: How many are given out?
Christine Sneva: There are twenty Park Leadership Fellows. The other piece to this is a Park Leadership Development Program. That is where you have a cohort of Park Fellows as well as some of our other scholarship recipients, and you go through two years of a leadership development program with an expert in that area, which for us is Clint Sidle. He is very well known, has written books on leadership development, and does a wonderful job with our Fellows. So this is an additional development opportunity for the students.
The other thing that is required that a lot of people take note of is that there is a project that is involved as part of this Park Leadership cohort.
Linda Abraham: Is this also the Leadership Focus, because we have a question about that related to Park?
Christine Sneva: There is the Leadership Fellows Program at Johnson, so it coincides with it but it’s not the same thing. Just to finish up about the Park Leadership Fellows, there is a project that is due that needs to benefit the university, the community, or the Johnson community in any way. Previous projects have been contributions to our Cornell Campus-to-Campus, which brings people from Sage Hall in Ithaca down to the Cornell Club in Manhattan. Others brought a new airline into the Ithaca airport. Obviously Ithaca is a small town. We don’t have a lot of airlines coming in and out, so that was a project that they brought in and it helped fill a need that they saw. Projects can be as big as that, or could also have something to do with curriculum development. It’s seeing a need in the community, whether that is Johnson, Ithaca, or Cornell, and putting a project together that is sustainable—that when they go, it is something that still is present here on this campus and benefits the community.
The leadership focus is another element to Johnson. We do have a Leadership Fellows Program that is under the direction of another faculty member, Risa Mish. These individuals help coach the first-year students through their first semester. A lot of people get a lot of coaching and development on how to do that—how to give live feedback, how to work with groups—and they have a lot more direct management experience. So if you are somebody that hasn’t had a lot of that experience—you’ve been in a very traditional structure hierarchy within your career—this is something that you may want to develop and work with. Because that leadership potential and ability to speak to those kinds of experiences are very important in careers and jobs today. That is something that our students are able to work directly with. There are other courses that are offered that help with the leadership focus here at Johnson. In many ways, I would say that it is our capital. It is something that I think people assume they might get in an MBA program, but we’ve got some real tangible formal programming around leadership that it becomes less of a buzz word here. I guess that is what I would like to emphasize.
Linda Abraham: Abhishek, a candidate from New Delhi, India, asks, "I had applied to the Johnson School in round 1, and after interviewing on the school grounds was waitlisted. I wanted to understand how the admissions committee evaluates fit with the school and how a candidate may be able to convince the admissions committee of his/her fit with the school?" How does an applicant demonstrate fit with Johnson?
Laurie Shunney McCloskey: I think there are a variety of different ways to represent how you would fit at the school. I think the more you know about Johnson, the more you will be able to articulate exactly how you would be able to fit into a specific club, or maybe you would like to lead an initiative here. I often encourage candidates on the waitlist to connect with current students and alumni to learn a little bit more about the areas that interest them most. So it would be good to reach out to a club officer at one of the clubs you would like to join, or learn a little bit more from our alumni about their experiences here, just to learn what the community is really like. Obviously visiting was a key part of that; seeing everything firsthand, attending a class. So learn as much about the school as possible, and then articulate exactly how you would fit into the community in terms of what you would like to add.
Our students go above and beyond in all of their club activities. They are not just members of an organization going through the process. They are often leading initiatives and changing dynamics at the school. They are really passionate about this place, and they really want to be here in Ithaca as well. And we often hear that from candidates on the waitlist, saying that they particularly want to join this specific club and that they’ve networked with these specific students. And we also hear from our current students or alumni, if they’ve connected with you, if they believe that you would be a great fit for the school, and we do take that into consideration. So keep networking, researching, and then sending in those updates when you do find key areas of the school that you would like to participate in, and we’ll keep an eye on that.
Ann Richards: I also want to say that fit is a two-way street. We look at your goals and your objectives, and whether or not we can help you achieve those goals. And that is also a component of fit. It’s not just how you fit in with us, but how do we fit into your plans and are we the best program to help you accomplish your goals?
Linda Abraham: That is actually something I’ve been making a deal of for years, but it’s the main point of my book. Goals are just so critical, and one of the best ways to show fit is to be able to tie the achievement of your goal to the school’s program
Priyanka asks, "I have a specific question on the application. Would you like the employment section to have only post-undergraduate positions or summer internships during undergraduate as well?"
Laurie Shunney McCloskey: I think it really depends on where you are coming from in your career. If you have five or more years of work experience, if you have substantial experience, I would focus more on the full-time experience. Obviously we want to see what you’ve been doing most recently—the most substantial experiences you’ve had where you may have held leadership positions and such. If you haven’t had a year of experience or if you are a little bit lighter on the experience, that may be a situation where you may want to highlight an internship or an experience from your undergraduate days if you were a leader or if you made an impact at the institution. I think it really depends on your candidacy, but we really like to see that full-time work experience if you have been in the workforce.
Linda Abraham: Andrew asks, "When will interview notifications be sent to round 3 applicants? And are all interviews held in Ithaca, New York?"
Christine Sneva: At this point, we are processing the applications as they are coming in. We are still looking at round two, but we will be very quickly focusing on our round 3 applicants. So at this point, it may still be a few weeks until our first group of round 3 applicants can expect to hear from us regarding an interview. So be patient with us there. It is our largest round. We try to get to all of our applicants as quickly as possible.
Regarding the interview options, obviously we prefer that you come to Ithaca, to come experience our campus. We make it worth your while. Students take you to lunch. There is an information session led by our current students, and you can also sit in on several classes. So we hope people will continue to take advantage of that throughout the year. It’s great to see so many people coming on campus and visiting. The other option is through Skype. By this time, I think most people know how to use Skype. If you can’t get to campus it’s a great way for us to still have a two-way conversation, which is a little more difficult on the phone when you are not able to observe the other person. So we do prefer Skype interviews over phone interviews, which we are still offering should the technology not be there for you. But we prefer interviews either on campus or via Skype. Or there is always the option that we can match you with an alum in your region that is willing to interview you. Sometimes it’s hard with schedules, but we do have a number of alumni interviewers that are wonderful that help us in that process.
We also want to emphasize that the evaluation for an interview is the same, regardless of who you interview with. So we have a list of interviewers that we trust that know our process and are consistent with our process. So if you are interviewed by an alum or interviewed by Skype, you are not at any disadvantage if you can’t come to campus. But certainly our preference is that we do get to see you here and meet you. Certainly when we were talking about fit, that is the best way to assess fit on both ends.
Ann Richards: The benefit of coming to campus for an interview is that you get to test-drive us too. You get to see if you like the location, if you like the students you meet, if you are engaged in the classroom activities. So it’s as beneficial for you as it is for us if you do come to campus. But we do recognize that not everyone is in a position to travel to Ithaca for their interview.
Linda Abraham: Jayanthi asks, "When does Cornell inform waitlisted students of the decision? Is it at the end of each round or at the end of the final application process?"
Christine Sneva: It can be either-or. The waitlist is a rolling process, so as we continue to review each round of applications, we will also be considering those on our waitlist. We may talk to people as early as by the next round or as late as up until the day leading up to orientation. That is why we emphasized earlier how to stay in contact with us. The quality of what you are submitting and how you are staying in contact with us was also a good point brought up by Ann Richards. But you need to consider how long you are willing to stay on our waitlist. We know that you are looking at other options and you are weighing those other options. We are going to be as transparent as we can in our process. And the more honest and direct and upfront you are with us, the better we can hopefully work together on the best solution for you.
Linda Abraham: Anatharam asks, "I applied last year, was interviewed, and then denied. I reapplied this year and was waitlisted without interviewing. Will I be interviewed again before the decision is made?" Will he need to interview again this year?
Christine Sneva: If you are on that standby pool, right now the decision is whether we are going to move forward and interview you again. You will have to get interviewed again, even if you are a re-applicant, to move forward with a possible ‘admit’ decision. You will need to get interviewed again. And as part of the standby list, that is what we are considering when we are looking at that group of applicants.
Linda Abraham: Swapnil asks, "Can you talk more about the Emerging Markets Institute and how students can take advantage of the Fellows Program offered by the institute in terms of careers and scholarship opportunities?"
Laurie Shunney: The Emerging Markets Institute will provide some new opportunities for students to work on projects with new corporations in the field. We are beginning to partner with additional organizations that the students might be able to work with. And we also have a partnership with another school here at Cornell, where students will have the opportunity to work on those projects.
Christine Sneva: The Fellows Program that is associated with the Emerging Markets Institute (EMI) includes programming with specific courses that students are going to have to take. They also will be required to do three study tracks or one study track and study abroad for a semester within an emerging market. That is really going to include a lot of our international partners that we work with on a different level. Really enthusing that global content into the curriculum and into the experience for our students is a huge mission and a huge piece of the EMI.
The development of this institute is still ongoing. So this is something that we are all looking forward to hearing more about, with the addition of our new dean. We will also be adding on a new faculty member to the EMI that has a lot of experience in Latin America. Bringing on faculty that have those expertise and that experience in specific areas of the world is also going to be a strategy for EMI. And students that are looking to work and continue on in certain regions will also have that to work with. Again, this is something that is brand new that our students just this year are being able to take advantage of, and we hope to continue to be able to share in updates regarding the EMI specifically.
Linda Abraham: We have a few questions from applicants with their fingers posed over the ‘Submit’ button. Martin asks, "For the essays, the application suggests a single line format. Is it frowned upon to use 1.5 spacing, or is the single line preferred?"
Laurie Shunney McCloskey: As a reader, I would say that is not really a big concern if you feel more comfortable formatting in 1.5 spacing. It wouldn’t necessarily be an issue. We do try to stick to the smaller spacing probably just to save space. Right now we are printing these applications, so we just try to be environmentally conscious and we don’t want pages and pages for each essay.
Often another question related to this is the word count and spacing in general. We do not sit there and count words or look at the spacing and stop reading after a certain point, but we certainly know if an essay response is much longer than what we are looking for. So I would say to just be concise. And if you feel more comfortable adjusting the spacing, certainly do that as you will.
Linda Abraham: Swapnil asks a ‘Table of Contents’ question. "Are you expecting students to enter the page numbers against the contents?"
Ann Richards: Students do not need to correlate a page number with their table of contents. The table of contents essay is really just an opportunity to provide the committee with a little bit more information about the candidate, and their goals and aspirations and expectations and experiences.
Linda Abraham: The next question was, "Can I use a different font than the one suggested for answering the essays?"
Ann Richards: I think you can, but I would be careful. Not all fonts translate well, and you want your essays and your responses to be easy for us to read. As Laurie mentioned, we do print these out. And you want these to be easy for us to read. If it’s difficult, it doesn’t work in your favor.
Linda Abraham: Here is another question. Apparently there might be a little bit of a discrepancy. The following essay question is appearing different on the application status page as on the essay page. "What career do you plan to pursue upon completion of the MBA degree and why?" That is on the application status page. "What career do you plan to pursue upon completion of an MBA degree and why? How will the Johnson School help you achieve this goal?" Could you please clarify the confusion on this? Apparently there is an additional question on the application status page. Which is the correct question?
Christine Sneva: We did update our questions this past season and we are focusing more on your career goals, so you can focus on your career goals for the MBA. We actually are focusing more on the Johnson piece in our legacy essay this year, and that was an update from last year. So I certainly apologize if we have a discrepancy; we’ll be happy to fix that. So feel free to focus more on the goals there, and then you can relate your experiences and your interest in Johnson in that other question about how you would like to leave a legacy here at the school.
Linda Abraham: Sarah asks, "What are your recommendations for those preparing for their interview at Johnson?"
Laurie Shunney McCloskey: That’s a great question. The interview is a huge piece for our process. As most of you know, it’s an invite only for an interview. And at that point, we are interested in your application and we are trying to assess the fit on our end. And we know that is something that is continuing for you as you go through this process. The application is looking at how professional you are, your interpersonal presentation, how you articulate your career goals, and how you assess your fit with us at Johnson. We want to hear specific answers to how you are going to fit into the community and how motivated you are to be here. Those are things that are very important for us to know in the process, and they certainly are areas that we are looking at. Every interviewer has a different style certainly, but we have a form that everyone completes and those are the areas that we are looking at.
Interviewers will be looking at your resume and at a one-page review of somebody that did go through your application in detail. I will emphasize that our interviews are blind interviews. It is important to keep in mind that the interviewer does not know what your GMAT score is, they did not look at your transcripts, or read your recommendation letters. Those are important points to know as you are preparing for the interview, so come prepared. Be confident in your answers. Know what your goals are and why you want to be here.
Prepare for it as if you were going for a job interview. Prepare for traditional questions that you would be asked in a business interview; about strengths and weaknesses, and tell me a time when this occurred, or when you followed through, or maybe tell me a time that you failed at something. Those are standard questions that we are always asking our interviewers to ask. If it seems relevant to ask in an interview, we will. They are very conversational and they are about getting to know you. And then obviously, everyone should remember to be on time and dress professionally. And make sure you follow up with your interviewer. How you are treating us in this interview process is how you are going to treat interactions with our alumni and also our corporate recruiters. And that is very important to note. In addition to that, we are assessing your professional maturity. So make sure you are treating this as a business interview.
Linda Abraham: I also would like to add something. You have to realize that all your interactions with the schools are reflections of yourself. And whether you are interacting with an admissions committee member or a clerk, it reflects who you are, at an institution you are attempting to join. So always be professional, always be courteous, always be appreciative of the attention you are receiving and that your application is receiving.
Gaurav asks, "During immersions, how do students bag projects? Do they directly contact companies, or is it based on some open bidding system in the way the school allocates projects? What is the extent of faculty involvement?" Could you take a minute to discuss the immersions?
Christine Sneva: Each of our immersions is organized a little differently. During the fall semester, the faculty director to each immersion starts soliciting these projects. Also they are starting to get a pulse on the current first-year students that will be joining their immersions. So a lot of times they want to start looking at what your background is, what your goals are, and the kind of projects that maybe you are looking to be involved with. And this is obviously all very important to make sure that you are getting the kind of experience that you are going to need going into an internship experience. For example, we have many companies that work with our Strategic Marketing Immersion. These projects solve a real marketing issue.
And it’s the same thing for strategic operations or MFI, and obviously in asset management and in investment banking. Within marketing, you’d be determining why a consumer would use a certain product, or you’d deepen the client’s understanding of a particular market segment, or you’d be extending a brand into a new market, or identifying new product opportunity spaces. Previous clients are Kraft, Levy Strauss, Merrill Lynch, and Verizon. These are all companies that come to us and say, "Here is an idea that we have. We want your group of students to work on this problem." And our students will work on this practicum for an entire semester. And then at the end of a semester, they will go to the company offsite and present their materials and what they’ve found in terms of their research and their analytics, and how they came to these types of decisions that are very important when you are working in a company. So it is a lot of the hands-on stuff that you would be working on in an internship or within an organization. That is a huge piece to the immersions, and it’s certainly a huge difference here for us.
With the immersions, a lot of our students are also working with our institutes and our centers. We have the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise and the Parker Research Center, which you’d be working with if you are interested in our CMAM or investment banking. The Cayuga Fund obviously is our hedge fund. That is real money that our students are working with. There is also Big Red Ventures for those who are interested in venture capital, working with pre-seed capital companies. And then we also have a focus on entrepreneurship and private equity. Obviously we are considered a very general management school, but within each one of these segments and these immersions, you really are immersed within that industry completely. So you get the benefit of 30-40 people in that cohort in that immersion that are all focused in the same area. This way you are able to work with the companies and network with the right people and alumni, which will help you gain the right contacts and get the right information or work that you are trying to do. It’s not just sitting in a classroom and listening to theory. Our outgoing dean is very famous for saying, "Behind every good application is a good theory", and that’s right. So you get that in your first semester, and in your second semester we see more people being a little more hands-on through our immersion program.
Linda Abraham: We have a question both about international applicants and some of your scholarships and fellowships. Martin asks, "Is the Park Fellowship strictly for US citizens, or have there been exceptions in the past for international applicants?" And the second question is from Marcus. He asks, "Can international students—permanent residents—be eligible for leadership type of scholarships since the Park Fellowship is not available?"
Ann Richards: The Park Fellowship is not available for international students.
Linda Abraham: Does that include permanent residents?
Ann Richards: The fellowship is just for US citizens. However because that funding is directed just at US citizens, that does free up money that we can use to award to international students and permanent residents. We do have a broad range of named and endowed scholarships that we do award to international students. We have some scholarships, for instance, that are targeted to students from particular countries. For the most part though, citizenship is not a factor that we look at when we decide who gets a scholarship. We really try to identify those students that will add value to the class, that will bring unique experiences or skill sets or attributes to the class. And those are the students that we identify as scholarship recipients, and citizenship is not a factor that we use. So if we think you are one of our top students, even if we can’t give you a Park Fellowship, it is likely that you are going to get a named scholarship from us.
Linda Abraham: Empril asks, "Could you please let us know if taking other courses or certification such as Project Management Professional would be considered favorably in cases of a waitlisted candidate."
Laurie Shunney McCloskey: I would say the designations in your field will be helpful, if those designations relate to your goals specifically. So a CFA, for example, if someone is looking to go into finance, or as a project management designation if that relates to your post-MBA goals. That may be a great way to strengthen your candidacy in terms of saying—I’m really passionate about switching into this field, I’m dedicating time and resources to this type of training, and I’m taking the steps to prepare for an exam or I have passed an exam. And we would certainly be happy to look at those updates. But I would say those are most relevant if they are related to your goals in terms of how you’ve been able to improve your application.
Linda Abraham: We have a couple of questions here about adding a recommendation if you are on the waitlist. Should it be submitted online? How can they add a new recommendation?
Christine Sneva: When you are on the waitlist, it’s probably best to work with your application manager. You can have your recommender send the letter directly to them. I’ve had recommendation letters sent directly to me. Regardless, it’s going to get to your application, but the best way to handle that is to go through your application manager. I will say that if you are considering adding a third recommendation letter in support of a waitlisted application, make sure that the content and who you are choosing is going to help your case.
We put out information on how applicants can self-assess their candidacy, and be introspective about the reasons why they were waitlisted. Look at that and be honest about that. Decide if a recommendation letter is really going to help, or if it is just another piece of paper in your application. What do we really want to see from you? We really want to see that people have been taking the time to really think about how they can strengthen that. And a third recommender, or even a fourth recommender in some cases—someone that knows you a little better, that has worked with you and can speak to your employability and who you are as a colleague and how you are as an employee—I think really says a lot about how you can support the strength of your resume and the employability factor. Perhaps you can use a letter from a previous supervisor, or maybe you want to have a colleague write you a letter of recommendation, or someone that has known you a little bit longer and knows you better. If you haven’t had a previous supervisor write a recommendation, maybe now is the time to consider having a previous supervisor add a recommendation letter. And make sure that it is adding value to your application rather than just trying to send something in just to look active.
Linda Abraham: Another question that I see is about getting feedback, both while on the waitlist, and if one is rejected from the waitlist. Will Cornell offer feedback so that the candidate could improve for reapplication purposes? Could you comment on feedback both while on the waitlist and if rejected from the waitlist?
Christine Sneva: At this point, we aren’t able to give feedback to everyone that is going to request it. We wish we could, but unfortunately, we can’t. We will look at waitlisted applicants very carefully. If we feel as though we are able to offer feedback to somebody that is either active with us or somebody that we are seriously considering, we will be proactive and reach out to them. Otherwise, if they are denied and would like to reapply, at this point, we are not giving feedback to applicants.
We will remain mostly selective in that because unfortunately, we don’t have the staffing to provide feedback to everyone that is going to request it. So as a policy, I would have to say no. It’s not because we don’t want to; it’s because we just don’t have the capacity to be able to do that. So instead of over-promising and under-delivering, that is just the policy that we have to bring about. But we try to be as proactive as we can with applicants, especially applicants that have been very interactive with us, whether it’s me or Ann or Laurie or application managers. And we try to handle this on a case by case basis, which is the best that we can do at this point in time.
Linda Abraham: We have a few questions about customized immersion programs.
Laurie Shunney McCloskey: The customized immersion is really a good fit for candidates who have specific goals related to areas beyond the structured immersions. There is an opportunity for students to take the base courses from an immersion and customize by adding coursework related to real estate, for example, or hotel administration if a candidate has unique goals related to that. Perhaps courses from our Industrial Relations School for students who really want to focus on HR. I would say immersions are the best bet if you are generally looking for a strong base in operations, marketing, or any of the established areas, because they are a great talking point with recruiters. So in most cases, if candidates are trying to decide between those, I would often recommend looking to the immersions first, just because of the structure there and the programming that is available in terms of the company interactions that are built in. But for those candidates who have really unique goals and they have a specific post-MBA plan, the customized immersion may be a great path.
The other point to keep in mind is that when candidates come into our MBA program, there are many opportunities to work with a career advisor and faculty and second-year students to learn a little more about those immersions before even registering for a specific immersion. So students have the opportunity to learn a little bit more before they register in October. And there is some flexibility there so it’s not as if you are tied to the one immersion that you selected in your application. You can gain feedback to see if the customized is the best fit or if those structured immersions are a good fit.
Christine Sneva: The point I want to bring out is that when students customize, you do lose the practicum piece to the immersions. That is obviously a huge draw to a lot of people in terms of when we are looking at fit with our program, that they are dedicated to a certain immersion. We obviously don’t hold you to that; you can change your mind while you are here in your first semester. I think it is a great opportunity to utilize the faculty and the second-year students that come in to give you tips on how to choose an immersion, or maybe what they learned through the process, and maybe you would consider a different immersion. But you lose that interaction with the companies that do come here that want to work with our students in very unique ways, which is really a benefit to your career, and the interaction with our recruiters that come here wanting to hire our students.
Linda Abraham: Stewart asks, "What immersion should one take that transitions into strategic consulting?"
Laurie Shunney McCloskey: I think the Strategic Operations Immersion is a great fit for consulting or MFI, our Managerial Finance Immersion. Those are two very popular immersion areas for students who are entering consulting. And you can pair those with a consulting focus, and that allows you to take a few consulting courses during that immersion semester as well, but that is the most common pathway I’ve heard.
Christine Sneva: What is really encouraged with our students that are going into consulting is that you really need to round out your experience. So if you are coming from an operations background or even a marketing background, you may want to consider the MFI immersion, because what the consulting companies really like to see is somebody that has had a diverse set of skills. And that is important to keep in mind when you are pursuing something like consulting. Which again, if you look at the choice of our immersions, it really allows you to look at that very deeply to round out your skills set. We are not just a finance school or just a marketing school or a school in sustainability or even consulting. You really have the option to round that out and be flexible with the curriculum so that when you are going to employers, they are seeing what you did, the relevant experience that you had before business school, and certainly the advantages that you’ve taken here at Johnson to round out that skills set. And that is especially important for consulting.
Ann Richards: In addition to the immersions, you’ll also want to participate in the Consulting Club to take advantage of the mock interviews that are offered, the alumni networking with our alums that are consultants and come back to help prep students for interviews and do resume writing workshops and work with the case competitions. So there are a lot of other activities that you will participate in, specific to consulting especially, beyond just the immersion.
Christine Sneva: I think the message is—if you are looking to go into consulting, you should be considering Johnson.
Linda Abraham: Anu asks, "The online application asks to provide a list of other institutions you will apply to for the 2012 entry. Is this information used in the admission decision? Is it used in the evaluation process?"
Ann Richards: I look at it in terms of your decision making. I look to see if those schools make sense in terms of the information you’ve told us regarding your goals and objectives and why you’ve chosen Johnson.
Linda Abraham: Thank you all for participating today. Special thanks to Christine and Ann and Laurie for joining us. If you have additional questions for the Cornell Johnson team, you can e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, Cornell recommends clicking on "Connect with Johnson" on the Cornell Johnson website.
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