2011 Kellogg MBA Admissions Q&A with Beth Flye and Carla Edelston

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2011 Kellogg MBA Admissions Q&A with Beth Flye and Carla Edelston

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Linda Abraham: My name is Linda Abraham. I'm the founder of accepted.com and the moderator of today's chat. First, I want to welcome all of you, all the applicants to the Q&A today, and I want to congratulate you for taking the time and making the effort to learn more about Northwestern Kellogg's School of Management. This is critical to your decision-making process and your application that you know as much as you possibly can about the school you're applying to. Being here today allows you to ask experts on the inside for the real answers to your questions. You can learn more about this top business school. I also want to give a special welcome to Beth Flye, the Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at Kellogg, and Carla Edelston, Kellogg's Senior Associate Director of Career Management. Thank you to everyone for joining. So, to Beth and Carla, welcome once again. And what's new at Kellogg?

Beth Flye: Well, first of all, Linda, hello out there to everyone and thanks for joining us today. This is Beth Flye and I'm delighted to be joined by my colleague and good friend, Carla Edelston from Career Management. And as far as what is new at Kellogg, the grand news here is that we have a new Dean. Her name is Sally Blount, she recently joined Kellogg as of July 15th. She is an internationally recognized scholar as well as a graduate of Kellogg. She earned her PhD here. And so we are thrilled to have her. You might be wondering out there what are her objectives right now. And there are many in formation, but I would say one of her primary activities, at the moment, is just spending a lot of time in getting to know the key constituents in the school. In fact, as I was on my way down here to be in touch with you, just now, I passed the classroom where she was having more of a "fireside chat" with a group of students so she is very, very visible, and we're just delighted to have her.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Carla? Is there anything new in terms of Career Management?

Carla Edelston: Now we're gearing up for the fall recruiting season. We have a number of employers who will be filling our interview rooms during October and November, recruiting students for the full-time job search. And we have already started meeting the first year students. Last week, we met them in a series of workshops to help them get acclimated to what's ahead in the career search process. It isn't new, this is something we do every year, but we are happy to be able to make early contact with students and to let them know the kind of support they're going to get during their job search process from our office.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. I have one other question I'd like to post before we start taking the applicants' questions. And this is really for both of you. Kellogg, of course, is known as an outstanding general management program. It's famous for its strength in marketing. It's well known for promoting teamwork and a collegial environment. What would you want Kellogg to be better known for? Not to take away from the things that it’s well known for now, but what do you think is going on that people don’t know about that you really wish they did know about?

Beth Flye: Well, I would say with respect to what you mentioned about marketing, I would certainly say that is true. Kellogg just has, as you know, a well respected track record in that area, but Kellogg is more than marketing. But in terms of what we are also very strong at, we are a strong general management institution. That is very core to who we are and we want each and every graduate to leave here with a solid skill set and foundation in general management. There are many other areas or majors that we offer here at the school and two others that are just extremely outstanding here that I would want people to know about would be finance and also strategy.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Carla, would you like to address that question also?

Carla Edelston: I think we would like applicants to understand more about the Kellogg culture – how much we interact with students and how we work closely with students. For example, in the Career side, we have a group of students we meet with every few weeks who are representatives to each student section, who make us aware of what their concerns are, who give us suggestions on programming. We value their input. So, it's the collaborative nature of how we work with students to continually improve their culture. The other thing I'd like students to be aware of is how diverse our employer base is. We truly have employers from every industry who either come to campus to recruit, or who advertise their job openings online. So I'd say of all the big schools we probably have the largest range of types of employers coming to Kellogg. Part of that is our general management focus and part of that is the diversity of the classes, that diversity of interests that Admissions brings in.

Linda Abraham: What are some of the more unusual industries that recruit at Kellogg?

Carla Edelston: Smaller industries might include media entertainment. Certainly, there's a strong emphasis now and interest in private equity and venture capital which also reflects the strength of our Finance Department. Those are the first two that come to mind. There's also very strong interest in social impact entrepreneurial ventures that benefit third world countries, all of that economic development outside the U.S. So there's really a strong culture of an interest in careers that have some altruistic impact.

Linda Abraham: Okay, thank you. All right, let's get to the applicants' question. Joanna asks, "Hi, thank you for having this chat. My question is about scholarships. Considering the high caliber of applicants to Kellogg, how do you select scholarship recipients? What characteristics set recipients apart from the applicant pool?

Beth Flye: Great question. And we do offer an array of merit-based scholarships. And first of all, there's no separate application, no separate process that a candidate needs to go through in terms of being considered for a scholarship. What we do is that, each time that we admit a candidate, their application for admission is essentially the same application that we're using with respect to giving consideration or screening that person for one of our scholarships. Some of the scholarships have some specific or unique criteria. But I would say, in general, the scholarship recipients are really just stellar, the highest of quality applicants across the board and from their academic track records, their professional work history, their involvements outside of work and school, in community and so forth. So that's what we're looking for and we typically award scholarships at the time of admission. But it is also possible to be admitted on one date and then later to receive a scholarship further down the line on another date.

Linda Abraham: Great, thank you. Okay, Catachea asked, "Hi. What opportunities does Kellogg have for students interested in learning about environment sustainability? Can one take courses in sustainability curriculum along with other specialization courses?

Beth Flye: The major that comes to my mind there, and Carla may want to weigh in, just from the Career Management side, is that we have a major here in Kellogg called Social Enterprise at Kellogg or the nickname we give it is SEEK. And so this would be definitely a major of choice for what you are interested in doing. And of course, you can combine that with another major or more than another major dependent upon what specifically you would like to do in terms of function. So you might want to combine that with entrepreneurship, or you could combine that with strategy and finance so that would be the course of study that you would definitely want to pursue here. Carla, you may want to add something to that?

Carla Edelston: Related to the sustainability theme, there's a great deal of interest in students here at Kellogg in alternative energy and looking at careers in that whole spectrum. We have two trips that go out each year to visit energy companies, traditional energy companies as well as start-ups in the alternative energy space where a staff member goes along with a group of students to learn more about what kinds of roles there are for MBAs, what kinds of opportunities, and what kinds of backgrounds you need in order to get there.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Aloc asks, "Thank you for the session. Do you have any suggestions for an applicant who belongs to an overrepresented pool of applicants?" My question to the applicants here today is, how many of you feel you belong to an overrepresented group? Okay we have 48% here, almost half, feel that they belong to an overrepresented group. And I guess it's not that surprising. Beth, do you want to discuss that, and maybe even Carla, if there are certain career implications to that question.

Beth Flye: Sure Linda, on the admission side or the application side, I think what resonates with me about this is, how do I differentiate myself in the application process? And my response is going to be somewhat simplistic in nature, but it is absolutely so true. I could not think of any better advice than the following, and that is, we want each and every applicant to educate us about who they are. That, for me, is what the application is about. And the most important thing is not only to educate us about who they are and all the aspects that comprise them as a human being, both professionally, academically, in the community, and so forth, but to also be very authentic. I think where applicants sometimes fall into a trap is when they may sometimes write, or in an interview, tell us what they think we in the Admissions Office want to read or want to hear.

Linda Abraham: Sure.

Beth Flye: And again, I cannot stress enough to be as just authentic about yourself as much as possible. And if you do that, that is truly how you're going to differentiate yourself from not just several people that you may feel similar to, but you'll be differentiated from every other application that we will see.

Linda Abraham: Okay, and Carla, is this an issue on the recruiting end also?

Carla Edelston: Well, at Kellogg, we have unlimited one-on-one coaching, individual career coaching, and we look at each person as an individual and their specific composite of experiences: work experience, and undergrad experience, and future goals. So our advice to them, or our help in supporting them develop the strategy is really all done on an individual basis. So it doesn't matter whether they feel they're in an overrepresented group when they're entering Kellogg.

Linda Abraham: Okay.

Carla Edelston: And Linda, I’ll just add one other point that I don't think will be a surprise to you, especially given what you do professionally, and that is that first and foremost, our job is about quality, with respect to selecting the highest quality candidates that we can. But the second most important element is that we want to put together a very diverse class. And I bring that up because we get that diversity based on what the applicants tell us about them. And so a person may feel somewhat overrepresented, and that could mean a lot of things, such as working at the same company as three or four people who are also applying, or, let's say, being from the same country. But we look at so much more than things like that when we're evaluating applications.

Linda Abraham: If you permit me to add something from my perspective, this is I think almost a common fixation, and to the extent that it is a fixation or an obsession, it's a misguided one. I think that the applicants, by focusing on their commonalities sometimes, and worrying about their commonalities, almost exacerbates the problem. If they focus on specifics of what they've done and the details in their lives - not so much to go on and on and on, you have word limits for a reason - but to focus on the specifics as opposed to labels, then they will end up distinguishing themselves. And I couldn't agree with you more that it is about telling your story. You are an individual. There's a famous Will Rogers' quote, "I never met a person I didn't like." I've never met an applicant who didn't have a story.

Carla Edelston: Right.

Linda Abraham: They don't realize they have a story, but there's one there.

Carla Edelston: Absolutely. And what we know in our office here at Kellogg is every story is unique. And the last thing that I would say is diversity comes in so many different forms.

Linda Abraham: Okay let's go back to the questions. Tanab asks, "Hi. What does Kellogg offer for somebody interested in aviation?

Carla Edelston: Well Aviation is pretty broad. Okay, so we have students every year being interviewed by American and United. We have international airlines. We have students who went to Azul last year, which is a new airline in Brazil. So we certainly have alums in a broad reach into the airline industry, if that's where his interest is.

Linda Abraham: Okay, Rita asks a similar question. "Thank you for having this informative session. I want to know what the opportunities are in pharmaceuticals and the health care industry?"

Carla Edelston: The health care industry, we have every major pharmaceutical firm here. We have the pharmaceutical firms, medical devices firms and then also a list of firms in health services, which is also a growing area and certainly where a lot of money in the U.S. is going. There's a very active club that embraces all of these aspects of the health care industry. And we also have the major in a health care biotech center, which students can be involved in. I think we have strong representation in that industry, in every aspect of it.

Linda Abraham: All right, wonderful. Eric asks, "As an international 33-year-old, in a directorial role at a small private business with eight years of work experience, and I'm not looking to change fields, would I be a better fit for the MBA or the EMBA program? Could you give some guidelines for which program is more appropriate for whom"?

Beth Flye: Great question. My first thought would be that there's not necessarily an absolute right or wrong answer based on the information you just conveyed to me about him, Linda.

Linda Abraham: Maybe just provide some guidelines, okay?

Beth Flye: Okay. You know, I would certainly say that if he's interested in more of an immersive, full-time educational learning experience then, of course, being in the full-time program, meaning not working at all, will certainly be the way to go. At the same time, if he would be interested in continuing his career, then I would certainly say learn more about our EMBA program here at Kellogg and take a look at what may be advantageous of going that route as opposed to the full-time route. So he's in, I think, a very advantageous position in that I would see him a candidate for both programs. And I would certainly also encourage him, I'm a huge believer in talking to, as you know this about me, in talking to various constituents when looking at business school. Alumni, recruiters, as well as people like myself at admissions. So I would certainly encourage him to talk with current students in both and to talk to alumni in both as well, and then lastly, I would add that from a recruiter aspect that would be helpful. I'm also going to defer to Carla from a career standpoint because I think she may have some thoughts on this.

Carla Edelston: You know, I think at 33, no matter which program this potential student considers, he has to realize that it's difficult to be a dramatic career changer…

Linda Abraham: No. He doesn't want to change careers.

Carla Edelston: He doesn't want to change careers. So to develop in a career he's in, then the real issue is the financial risk of a full-time program versus being able to continue working. And at Kellogg, we have career support for the students in the EMBA program as well as the Saturday program for our part-time program in Chicago. So we have career coaches who speak with those students about continuing to develop in careers in the same companies they're in or in other companies. So I think you could find career support in either program also.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Min asks, "Does Kellogg have courses or tracks for luxury brand management? Also, what are some of the career opportunities and resources in this area for Kellogg students"?

Carla Edelston: There is a luxury retail trip each year to New York, usually one or two trips. It’s a small interest area, but we do have students who do their networking and, with our support, look in luxury goods. It’s a search that you have to do somewhat on your own also. But it seems to be pretty retail driven, so a background in retail or an interest in retail would be helpful. But we do the trip that goes out every year, at least one, sometimes two, with a staff member, to visit companies that students feel belong in this category, the luxury goods.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Beth, I'd like to ask a question now.

Beth Flye: Okay.

Linda Abraham: When you are evaluating applications, what puts one applicant in the admit pile and others in the rejected or wait-listed pile?

Beth Flye: Wow, big question. You know, honestly, it really comes back to quality. And our approach is very holistic, meaning we're not anchoring on a certain GMAT score, a certain GPA. We're not anchoring on a specific number of years of work experience. Really it comes back to looking at all of the criteria, collectively. And you know, the other thing is taking into account what the quality of the overall applicant pool is at that particular point in time. How does round one look? And then we get into round two. What is that pool looking like in comparison to round one? I would say that when we, philosophically speaking, when we do give a decision, one of these three decisions is usually for more than one particular reason. You know, when we admit somebody, it’s for a broad number of reasons, that we think that person is a very high quality candidate. Just as when we typically deny someone, there's usually more than one thing that was not as up to par on their application as we would have liked to have seen. And then lastly I would say with the wait list in particular, we wait-list for different reasons. Sometimes, we may want to just hold off making a decision because we want to see more of the applicant pool. There may not be anything in particular about that application that is weak. But we may decide that we just need to see more candidates to help us make a final decision. Oftentimes, we will also wait-list someone because we were wanting additional information, whether it's a new test score, or a grade from a class that they indicated that they were taking. But the one thing I would like to comment about Kellogg's wait-list is, to be wait-listed is not a negative thing at all, you are still in the running for admission.

Linda Abraham: Okay. On a related note, let's field this question. It’s from Pria. She says that last year, she applied for the JD-MBA program. This year, she's reapplying for the full-year, two-year MBA program. "What does Kellogg expect from a re-applicant in terms of improvements, since there's no feedback given?"

Carla Edelston: Okay.

Linda Abraham: You can deal with it as a general question, you know. What are you looking for from reapplicants?

Beth Flye: Well, really, the responsibility is on that applicant to enlighten us about, is there anything that's new or different, or is there anything that has improved? Let's say, improvement – an easy example would be maybe that person took a class and earned a good grade or they retook the GMAT and earned a higher score. Even though the questions may be very similar in essays and the interview may be a similar experience as was the case last year, first of all, each season is a brand new season, but since she did apply last year, by law, we have to keep applications on file for at least two years. So we would be able to see her application from last year, but we will make a decision based on the new application, with the question on our end of wanting to know what has changed, if anything, since the last application.

Linda Abraham: I'm frequently asked by applicants, especially those who applied later in the previous cycle. They say not much has changed, or I put in my greatest accomplishments, or whatever. Do I have to re-write my essays? You know I have a stock answer, but I'd like to hear your answer.

Beth Flye: You know, to be honest with you, this comes back to a judgment call. And let's just say that if I were in that situation, I would definitely re-write the essay, I would not cut and paste. At a minimum, what we like to see is – you don't just want to see a great application, but a strong application that also demonstrates a lot of insightful and heartfelt effort. So, therefore, I would strongly recommend, even though the content may be similar, which in some cases is understandable, going through that process and rewriting again would be the way that I would go for Kellogg.

Linda Abraham: And that's what I always say. The next participant asks, "Is it disadvantageous for re-applicants to apply in round two instead of round one?"

Beth Flye: No, not at all. You know, first of all, my advice to when to apply regardless of whether or not you are a re-applicant, my advice is two parts. Number one, apply when you're ready, because as you and I both know, this is a significant project that involves a lot of time and effort. And you want to feel good when you hit that Submit button that you've really done your best to put together a quality application. Secondly, we have three application rounds, and I do recommend that candidates apply for one of those first two rounds. Stay on the earlier side of the calendar and there would be two reasons for that. One would be, historically, the very large majority of our applications have come in the first two rounds, which means we end up selecting the very large majority of the class during those two rounds. Actually, we have three reasons. The second reason would be, most of our scholarships are distributed to first and second round candidates. And thirdly, for internationals, just from a timing perspective and for transition, but also in obtaining a visa, applying and being admitted in the first or second round would be a lot better than the last round.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. This question is from Garav and it's for both of you. He asks, "Thanks for the session. I'm a candidate from India, who has been working in the U.S. for the past four years, but would like to go back to India and work in business development there. Beyond the avenues like global initiative and management, how much of a global perspective is offered in regular classes in terms of case studies or regular class courses?" And a part for Carla would be, how much support do you give to students who are looking to take jobs overseas?

Beth Flye: Okay. I'll comment briefly about the global perspective. Getting a global perspective here is very much a fabric experience. It's not a thread in one single class here, but having global perspective is going to come throughout all the courses that he would have here. That's something that, again, is very core to what we do and what we see as very essential, right now, in terms of the general management foundation, in particular. Carla, do you want to comment?

Carla Edelston: We have a number of employers who really come to Kellogg looking for U.S.-educated or college-educated international students to return to their home countries. So even in our recruiting list of employers that come on campus, there are certainly opportunities. We also have alums everywhere and we would give the student the same support for his individual search that we would to someone who wants a job, you know, in Chicago. So we have a number of resources. We have active clubs. We have a list of employers. We have alums. So there are a lot of ways that we can help the student pursue jobs back in his home country.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Martin asks, "Thank you for holding the session. At present, I have about four years of post-graduate work experience." Martin also has undergrad work experience. "How relevant are the following, one a 16-month internship during undergrad, and two, running a franchise business during two years of my undergrad?" This is great experience, but should that be included on the resume?

Beth Flye: It sounds as if he has an entrepreneurial bent, if he was running his own business and if that's what he wants to pursue, an entrepreneurship major here or to direct his studies if that's his long-term goal. I think certainly that's something to highlight. I think he should include it no matter what because he can incorporate into his story in a number of different ways. He could just say that he's a self starter, and that he helped put himself through school, and employers really value the work ethic and the initiative that takes. So I think that really any scenario that plays out with his job search strategy, it could be advantageous to include it. And from the application/admissions side, I would absolutely agree with Carla's feedback.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Ben asks, "What is the general split in terms of teaching methods, case methods, lecture or team-based right now?"

Beth Flye: I believe the general split is roughly about, I say about 40% case method, 30 to 40% lecture and then the remaining balance would be more team projects, and then a rough 10% in there of experiential learning and simulation. That's a really great question. And I'd like to use the adjective "blended". We have very much of a blended approach in terms of how we deliver the curriculum here.

Linda Abraham: Okay, thank you. Sandiv says he left his job last year. He said his boss has also changed his job. "Is it fair enough to take a letter of rec from him as I don't have any other choices?"

Beth Flye: Very good question and I would say, again, this is going to be a judgment call on his part. The most important advice that I would give about the recommendation requirements for Kellogg is to choose wisely. By that, I mean choose someone who is work-related. You know we asked for two work-related recommendations, but the important thing is that the person should be someone who would really know him well and could really give detailed testimony and examples on that recommendation form about him, in terms of his experience and attributes as well as his potential, along with areas for improvement. So, again, that's going to be a judgment call on his part, but the important thing is that this person would need to know him well.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Min asks, "For community service, if it began recently, is this seen as disingenuous and as only to pad an application? Would you recommend something like that being included in the application?

Beth Flye: Well, of course, if it's something that was started recently, my thoughts there would be to make sure to highlight that, maybe tell us a little bit more about that, either in the additional information section of the application or to bring that up in an interview. I mean, if it's an activity that – let's put it this way, we would certainly hope this is an activity that was started because, hey, this is something that's important to them versus, okay, let me check the box and make sure I have a community service activity on my application.

Linda Abraham: Okay, thank you. Sara has a question, but first I'm going to ask the audience a question. Actually two questions for the audience. How many of you are concerned that you are too young or don't have enough full-time work experience? Okay, so about 16% are concerned that they are too young or don't have enough work experience. How many of you are concerned that you are too old or have too much work experience for the full-time, two-year MBA program? Okay, so it's about 20%. So probably close to a third have one or the other concern.

Beth Flye: Okay.

Linda Abraham: All right. So Sara asks, "I'm an older applicant with 10 years work experience. How does Kellogg deal with applicants that intend to go back to their employment industry with a changed, expanded role? My employer is not among Kellogg's traditional recruiters.

Carla Edelston: Well, we certainly see students that think they're going to return to their employer and then they get here and see a range of options that they didn't really consider and may change their minds. So I think even in Admissions, they would read the applications knowing that the student might change their mind. You know, 10 years of experience, again, you get into the question of is a full program the only choice, the only option, and it depends on what that applicant's longer term goals are. It might be a Saturday program or an evening program or an exec ed program while he continues working that would make more sense and have less financial risk.

Beth Flye: Right.

Linda Abraham: Here's a follow up question from another participant, which is, "How much is too much work experience? "

Beth Flye: From an Admissions standpoint, we do not have any type of ceiling amount of work experience. Part of our evaluation for admission is really along these lines, determining, taking an evaluative look at the quality of their work experience, but also coupling that with – what are their reasons for wanting to get a Kellogg MBA at this point in their lives? What are their post-MBA objectives? That's what we're most interested in and ultimately will help us make a decision. So, again, we have people here with a range of professional experiences. Again, we're more interested in the quality of a person's work experience as opposed to a black and white number of years. But people might be wondering how many different years do you have here. We have people here on – let's just say, a little more on the junior side that come in with two, two and a half years of matriculation. And we've had some students that have been here with 10 plus experience years. So, again, it really just depends on their background and their objectives from the Admissions standpoint.

Carla Edelston: From the Careers side, someone with more than 10 years work experience is going to have to assume that they do more of their own off-campus search with our support because the job that are mostly represented in the on-campus process are geared with that four and a half to five, somewhere between three and seven years, and these are entry level jobs post-MBA. The other issue gets to be making a lateral move salary-wise and the level of responsibility that someone with 10 years experience is accustomed to, they may not find in the on-campus process. But it doesn't mean that there aren't other employers out there if this person chose to make a change that wouldn't have an interest in them.

Linda Abraham: Okay, the next question is from Flavio and he says, "Hi. I'm an international applicant from Italy. Do multiple GMAT scores count negatively? For instance, I have taken the GMAT five times ranging from 650 to 680, and then decided to take a prep course, and I got a 730 well balanced."

Beth Flye: Great question and my response is absolutely not. Again, first of all, I applaud him for his effort, that's certainly commendable. And when we look at the GMAT, if someone has taken the GMAT more than once, we'll focus on the highest score from a given test date. So just to reiterate again, that is not considered or perceived as being negative whatsoever with us.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Here's a question for Beth. How did Kellogg graduates do in 2010 and how do you think that graduates are going to do in 2011 based on interview signups and things like that?

Beth Flye: So when you say graduates, do you mean from the job side?

Linda Abraham: I mean from the job side.

Carla Edelston: Well, we aren't publishing numbers until the end of this month. We give our students still looking all summer to tell us where they've landed. But it was certainly a better year than the year before in terms of summer internship hiring, summer internship numbers for the class of 2011 for on-campus recruiting were up considerably from the year before. And companies were back, ready to employ interns, and they like to look in the intern pool for full-time hires and offers. So, right now, the line we're hearing most often from our employers is "cautious optimism." So they think things are better. They're still aware of head count, but they're certainly coming on campus. We have a very active and full fall recruiting calendar. Employers will start holding company presentations on the first day of class, which is next Monday, and that will continue through the month of October, when actual interviews on campus will begin.

Linda Abraham: Great. Let' see. Sandiv asks, "Do you make phone calls to recommenders or is this an email process only? What if my recommender doesn't know English well?

Beth Flye: Very good question, first of all, if that person does not know English well, what we would also encourage would be a supplemental recommendation in which their original rec form will be translated into English. That can be very helpful to us at times. Do we make phone calls? We do on an as-needed basis. So if there was something in the recommendation form or recommendation letter that we wanted to probe on further or we have any question about, then we would certainly call. I would say that that’s not a very common act for us. Most of the recommendations that we see, I’m happy to say, are very thorough in nature. But we do reserve the right to call or email or correspond with that person if we do have any questions.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. I was wondering if you could both address the opportunities on entrepreneurship at Kellogg.

Carla Edelston: We really have made a big commitment to supporting students who want to be entrepreneurs. We have a whole center that’s staffed by several professors. We have an internship program called – the acronym is KEIP where students are placed in Chicago and throughout the country working with small entrepreneurial companies. There's a series of courses that add up to the entrepreneurial major. So there’s really a great deal of emphasis on supporting students whose focus is on being entrepreneurs.

Beth Flye: And from the Admissions side, I would certainly echo what Carla has said, and there’s no question that Kellogg is a great program for entrepreneurship, especially, you know, this is an area where we have a depth in a major, but also, these entrepreneurs are going to leave with a general management foundation, which we think is absolutely essential. And do we see a lot of interest among applicants in entrepreneurship? We do, I would say that most of them, and again, this is subject to change once students begin school, but probably most of the candidates that I have seen, most of them want to be on entrepreneurships a little bit later beyond graduation.

Linda Abraham: Right.

Carla Edelston: And there are some students who feel they need to be very well equipped in going to their own businesses right after school, but most defer that and get some more training or building blocks someplace else first. But, as Beth points out, we have a strong alumni base. Alums who might have started in traditional companies or consulting firms, but who now have started their own businesses. So they support this internship program and they support this effort at Kellogg to emphasize entrepreneurship.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Martin asks, "As part of the application, there is an optional writing sample. Is there ever a time when the writing sample would be highly recommended?"

Beth Flye: You know, again, that’s more of a judgmental call. I think that the optional writing sample from our side would be if we wanted to take a further look at that. We would play that together with how they do in their essays coupled with that information. So it’s kind of like how would we assess language skills. We certainly take the TOEFL into account, but we also take into account the interview plus the essays.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Now Audrey asks, I’m interested to work in the infrastructure division of the World Bank or ADB in the immediate post-MBA career. I have a long-term goal of social entrepreneurship and the field of infrastructure reform. What are my opportunities at Kellogg as a full-time student?"

Carla Edelston: We have alums at the World Bank. We have students who apply every year. It is competitive, but Kellogg students have done well there. We also have a trip, which I will be going on to D.C. over Thanksgiving week, where we are visiting the World Bank and other organizations that are related to the students' interests. So certainly, this is an effort we can support and have had other students go the same path.

Linda Abraham: Okay, do you want to add something, Beth?

Beth Flye: I think Carla covered that beautifully.

Linda Abraham: Okay. I have another question from Pria. She is a re-applicant and she says that last year, she got recommendations from a senior manager at her company and a client of her company. "As a re-applicant, I’m asked to submit from a different recommender. Whom will the school recommend, at my previous company or employer at my company or someone else?"

Beth Flye: Very good question and my response to that is – that is again a judgment call on her part and what I would say is go with the one that she believes knows her the best between the two of them.

Linda Abraham: Okay, Pronav asks, "What does it mean to do general management at Kellogg? Is it just taking courses across the functions?"

Carla Edelston: I think it really depends on what you walk in the door with. Some students decide to choose their majors by the skills they want to develop so that they are leaving Kellogg with a well-rounded academic base and skill set. And there are many different general management career paths. Some start in marketing; some start in finance. Some employers have leadership development programs where they are rotating you through different areas of the business before giving you a PNL assignment. So really, we have to start with having Pronav do some reflection before he’d know how to chart his course here to get ready to be a general manager.

Linda Abraham: Rafael asks, "What industries do graduates who studied entrepreneurship typically go into, if they don’t start their own businesses upon graduation?"

Carla Edelston: I think there's a great range there. There are some students who feel that they want to go to a big company and run a PNL before they then go off and run their own business. And one of the things we ask the students right away to start thinking about are which industries are they most interested in? Which industries issues do they track on and are they engaged by? So then we would step back and look at the paths of general management in the industry of their interest so that’s really too broad a question to answer very well.

Linda Abraham: Okay, that varies from person to person, right?

Carla Edelston: Right.

Linda Abraham: Okay, Fai Shenton asks, "Hello everyone. Thank you very much for the chat. I have a question. I know that the Admissions criteria and processes are the same for two-year and full-time program and the part-time program. But how does a two-year and full-time admission differ from part-time admission from the Admissions Committee point of view?"

Beth Flye: I will leave my counterpart from the part-time office to address their process, but I would say that it’s very, very similar. Let me just comment about the process here. As I said earlier, it’s a very holistic evaluative process and a very large majority of applications here are evaluated by at least three people, the first being a member of our Student Admissions Committee, the second being one of the admissions officers, and the third person being myself. I just bring that up to show some transparency, a little bit about the process here because I know – wow, after I hit the Submit button, what in the world is happening to my application?

Linda Abraham: Right. I have a question for you Beth.

Beth Flye: Okay.

Linda Abraham: When you get an application, how do you go through it? What’s the first thing you look at? What’s the last thing you look at?

Beth Flye: The first thing that I look at is part one, what I just term as the "data form" since that’s – I look at that. I then take a look at the resumes. I want a high level overview of, who is this person? Where are they from? Where do they go to school? You know, what type of work experience do they have? In my mind I'd like to form a composite. As far as what the last thing that I would look at will be the interview comments, the interview reports. I like to see the information that the applicant has submitted on their own first and then usually I go to the interview.

Linda Abraham: Okay, Martin asks a question somewhat related to what I just asked. He asks, "What do you look for when assessing if a candidate will be a good fit with the culture, community, student life, et cetera? "

Beth Flye: That's really pulling together information from a number of areas, I mean, that three letter word "fit" is so important.

Linda Abraham: It’s so hard to define.

Beth Flye: It is. It really is. It's important to us in the Admissions Office. But I think it's more important to the candidate because we're talking about a substantial, not just financial investment in business school, but a life investment in business school. But "fit," I mean again, I think this is one of the things that I – just what I was commenting about, looking at the interview last. And that is, you know, reading that application, reading what they have said in their essays, taking into account what the recommenders have said about them and then taking into account what the interviewer had noted and really fusing that information together to get a sense of who that person is and to see – are they someone that we think would be a good fit and would thrive within the Kellogg community? And to be very candid, we don't have a scientific approach about that. But I also think that's a good thing because people are very, very different. So what it really is, is pulling all of that information together to see, "Hey, is this someone that will fit into our culture, someone who is going to be an active, engaging person, someone who's going to be collaborative, someone who's going to be challenging in good ways, as well as willing to be challenged by their peers?" So those are some of the things that I take into account when I think about "fit".

Linda Abraham: Okay, great, thank you. This is a question really for both of you. Sandiv asks about a one-year gap in his resume caused by illness, but there could be a one-year gap caused by a variety of factors – illness, job loss, or just a decision to go and travel or do something different. How does Kellogg look at that from an Admissions point of view? And Carla, how would you say somebody should handle that from a recruiting point of view?

Beth Flye: From an Admissions point of view, what's important is we would like to know - tell us about the reasons for that gap? As an example, let’s say, if someone was not working, whether they've experienced a lay off, or whether they decided to opt out of the work force for a while, we'd like to know what was the reasoning behind that and then, of course, we would like to know how have you been spending your time? So that's the information that would be critical on the Admissions side.

Carla Edelston: Well, we suggest to students that they account for all of the time since graduation from undergrad. But it's often easy to find a statement to make in the other data section of the bottom of the resume to address whether it was travel. I have to give a little more thought about how you would say it was an illness or maybe - was he ill the whole time? Did he do some part-time jobs or some other things during that period of time? And then what we would also do is help him practice in an interview how to address that in a very straightforward way, say, I was ill for that year, but I'm fine now, you know. So we would help him get comfortable with the statement he wants to make about that year.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Flavio has a question. The Kellogg website mentions that the minimum TOFEL IBP score is 110, but there is nothing about the paper-based TOFEL minimum. Is there a paper-based TOFEL minimum? And what is it?

Beth Flye: My apologies. This is where I need my conversion chart to look at what the 110 would equate to on the paper-based. My recommendation would be, again, from a conversion standpoint is just, you know, what that paper-based score, the equivalent score would be. I would just use that. Again, that's not necessarily to say that that is an absolute minimum that we must have, but to use it as more of a guideline.

Linda Abraham: Okay. And another question from Garab on the essays. "Is it advisable for candidates to mention names of the alums and current students they have connected with at Kellogg to gather information related to the school?"

Beth Flye: They're certainly welcome to do that. I would just say, think about being mindful of why you would do that and how you would state that. Frankly, I don't like to see when someone is doing name dropping just for the sake of saying, "Okay I know Carla Edelston who was an alum" versus, if they say, "You know I met Carla about 18 months ago at a gathering and since then she and I have been in touch. She's been a terrific resource for me about the Kellogg School." See, that's kind of the difference that I would say.

Linda Abraham: Okay. This is the last question and then I have one last question, and we'll bring it to a close. And this is from Sara again. "What does Kellogg look for in candidates who are below the 80% GPA range? Does substantial work experience and a high GMAT make up for low GPA? Is this something that should be addressed in the optional question?

Beth Flye: Right, right. Again, this is more of a judgment. I'll just start with should that person address that? I would say if it was me, and this is purely opinion, if I were in that boat, I would take the opportunity to address it. When you have opportunities in life to be able to address certain things, it's good to seize them. So that could certainly be done in the Additional Information Section and that can be also brought up in the interview. My strong advice there is just to be honest, you know. I would rather someone – let's say, if someone had too much fun during university or their collegiate years, I would rather that person just be very upfront and honest and state that, as opposed to making excuses. An excuse would be, you know, I just didn't do my best, but I'm certainly capable of more. Well, we would like more information than that.

Linda Abraham: Like maybe some recent classes or something like that.

Beth Flye: Right, right. Exactly, and that leads to my second point, which is, I tell candidates always try to think about how can they be pro-active in putting together a very competitive application, not just a competitive application, but what can they do to prepare to be a successful student. And my suggestion was going to be perhaps, consider taking one or more classes.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Thank you very much. I want to thank you all for participating today, all the applicants. You asked great questions. Special thanks to Beth and to Carla for joining us, and of course for providing the informative responses. There are a few questions that we haven't gone into. You can address them to mbaadmissions@kellogg.northwestern.edu. In addition, if you want to give an opinion on something, then you can post your questions at forums.accepted.com. Again, special thanks to Beth and to Carla. Please also remember you're going to be receiving a survey about today's Q&A when you leave the webinar. If you could just take a second to provide your feedback, we highly value it and appreciate your time. We look forward to seeing you at future Q&As and here's a list of the upcoming events.

UCLA Anderson Q&A with Mae Shores
Monday, October 4, 2010

Notre Dame Q&A with Brian Lohr
Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Chat with Current Consortium Members and Alumni
Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wharton Q&A with Julia Schreck
Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cornell Q&A with Randall Sawyer
Thursday, October 21, 2010

If you would like to automatically receive notices about these MBA admissions Q&A and other MBA admissions events, please subscribe to our MBA event list. Please check the website for additional details. Thank you very much and good luck with your applications. Thanks again to Beth and to Carla.

Beth Flye: Thank you all very much.

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