2011 Michigan Ross MBA Admissions Q&A with Soojin Kwon Koh and Jonathan Fuller
2011 Michigan Ross MBA Admissions Q&A with Soojin Kwon Koh and Jonathan Fuller
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Linda Abraham: Hello. My name is Linda Abraham. I am the founder of Accepted.com and the moderator of today’s chat. First I want to welcome all applicants to the Q&A today, and I want to congratulate you for taking the time to learn more about Michigan Ross School of Business. 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 Soojin Kwon Koh, Director of Admissions, and to Jonathan Fuller, Senior Associate Director of Admissions at Ross. I am going to take advantage of my position as moderator and ask Soojin and Jonathan what's new at Ross.
Soojin Kwon Koh: Thanks everyone for joining us. I am very excited to talk with all of you, and thank you for doing your research on the Ross School of Business. Some of you may have heard about our latest venture fund that we've launched, the third of our student lead venture funds, called the Social Venture Fund. It is a student managed fund, and the students are learning how to invest in and manage sustainable for-profit enterprises that really address a societal need. So we are very excited about that. The school is also going to be launching some activities around what's going to be called 'Inclusive Growth'. On the heels of the passing of our esteemed Professor Prahalad, we are developing an initiative around his vision for creating inclusive capitalism. So there will be activities to focus on his research and his commitment to try to get businesses to do more with less, for more people. So those are two new things that are going on.
Jonathan Fuller: I think Soojin touched on some of the bigger things that are going on here. We're always very engaged with our current student population, and some of the things that we, at admissions are feeling a lot of benefit from, and I think perspective students will also feel a lot of benefit from, is what we call Ross Student Ambassadors. And this year we had a record number of current students who had volunteered to participate as Student Ambassadors; to essentially be a touch point for prospective students. The Student Ambassadors tell those individuals about their experiences here at the school and how they went through the deliberation process and those kinds of things. So we talk at Ross about how engaged our student community is with both helping the school and improving upon the experience that everyone has here. And that is something that we, at admissions are also feeling directly. I'd like to think that it means we did a good job with bringing in a good quality class last year, based on the engagement that they have in wanting to be a resource for prospective students, and also pay it forward in terms of the experience they had as prospective students as well. So it's something that I personally am excited about. Again, it's exciting just to see a good crop of people that are really engaged with maintaining the excellence that we have here, and bringing in the next great class.
Linda Abraham: That's great. You've already had your round one decisions deadline. Is it up, down, or pretty much the same as the previous year? I think on your blog you said that you were up, right?
Soojin Kwon Koh: Yes, we were up. We were very excited to see the up kick. Last year we were up slightly, and this year we were up a little more than slightly. So we're very excited to welcome in a hopefully, really strong class.
Linda Abraham: That's wonderful. Let's get to the questions posed by the applicants. Weigh asks, "Are the alumni interviewers up to date on current Ross events, etc.? And do they follow a guideline or question list to conduct the interview?"
Jonathan Fuller: As the questioner noted about alumni interviewers, the vast majority of our prospective student interviews are conducted either by current students if the person interviews here on campus or by alumni interviewers wherever the candidate is located. All of our interviewers, regardless of whether they are current students or alumni, go through a training process in terms of how we want them to conduct the interview and the kinds of questions that we'd like them to ask. We do give them some guidelines, but we don't script it; I wouldn't say that we prescribe to them which question they need to ask first, which question they need to ask next, and so on and so forth. The interviewers do have the flexibility of being creative, but they are all expected to provide us with a similar level of information and input into the application process. Soojin does do a good job throughout the year of communicating with our alumni interviewers and giving them a status update on the progress that we've been having with our applicants, our application reviews, and things that are going on around the school as well. If you are interviewing with alum who graduated within the last couple of years, he/she will obviously have more relevant and recent information because they've spent time here more recently. The further out you go, that might be a little bit less the case. But again, we do try to keep them aware of what's going on here, and the exciting things that are happening here on our campus.
Linda Abraham: Soojin, are MBA candidates allowed to take courses in other schools, such as Engineering and Law School, and are there any limitations if they can?
Soojin Kwon Koh: Absolutely. We actually highly encourage that. There are a lot of cross-disciplinary opportunities, not just taking classes but also partnering with students from Engineering, the Med School, and other grad programs on campus to come up with business ideas and work on projects together. But yes, students can take up to 10 credited hours of electives outside of the School of Business.
Linda Abraham: Rick asks, "I applied already for round one's deadline. Will attending the Ross Preview next week influence the admissions decision at all?" And could the same question about influencing the admissions decision be made about visits to Ross on other occasions, or by participation in Ross receptions or things like that?
Soojin Kwon Koh: That's a great question; we get asked that frequently. The fact is that if you come to campus, while it doesn't affect the admissions outcome, it does affect your ability to be a strong candidate in the process, whether it's before you apply or after you apply, before your interview. When you are admitted, it will help you make the best decision possible whether to come to Ross or not, because the visit will give you a sense of whether there is a good fit in terms of the curriculum, the student body, the activities, the location, and all of those things. But there are no extra points for coming to campus; I think it just helps the applicants.
Linda Abraham: I'd like to ask the applicants a question. How many of you have applied round one? It's 36%. How many of you are applying round two? Okay. It's 38%. And I'm going to assume that everybody else is applying round three or is undecided. That's kind of interesting to know in terms of exactly who is here. The next question is from Patrick, and he asks, "I have received an interview invitation and had a quick question about the interview during the Saturday event. Will we know who our interviewer is i.e. student, alumni, adcom, after registration and before interviewing?"
Soojin Kwon Koh: The interviewers will be predominantly current students who have been trained recently by me. There may be a couple of interviews done by staff if we are shorthanded, but they will predominantly be students.
Linda Abraham: So interviewers are blind, right? Resumes only?
Soojin Kwon Koh: The only thing the interviewers will have is your resume in advance. We don't alert them to look for anything in particular prior to the interview. So you will not know who the interviewer is until they come and say your name, and pick you up for the interview.
Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Tom asks, "How does the Admissions Office work on the evaluation process specifically?" How does the evaluation process go?
Jonathan Fuller: We have a number of different rounds of review for every application that comes in. I would essentially divide them in to three main waves. The first review is to determine whether or not we want to invite the person to interview. There are certain individuals that when we look at them we know right away that yes, we want to interview this person. And then there are others who we'll say, let's look a little more deeply into the application before we decide if we want to extend an interview option to that person. The second piece is then combining the interview results with the overall application. So it's the in-depth review of your academics to measure performance, your essays, recommendations, resume, and so on and so forth. And then preliminary admissions decisions are made when that information is combined with the interview results. Then all of that is reviewed by members of our team, and then eventually makes its way to Soojin for her final review. She then forwards on our recommendations to the Dean for his final review too. So count up all those steps for every application. Of course, not all of them are going to be reviewed to the similar level of depth; I don't think I'm out of turn saying that the Dean doesn't read every single essay that comes in or doesn't necessarily look at every transcript. But from the standpoint of the number of reviews that every one gets, I would say that it's probably on the order of five for somebody who goes through the entire process all the way. So that is a high level of reviews of how we examine applications.
Linda Abraham: When you are evaluating an application, what do you look at first and how do you go through the file?
Soojin Kwon Koh: I start with the resume and this gives me a snapshot of what this person brings to the table in terms of experience, education, interests; all those things that are perfectly standard on a resume. And I just want to make a point to encourage everybody to try and get your resume to one page, and to not include jargon or technical speech.
Linda Abraham: Thank you. Any other tips on the resume?
Soojin Kwon Koh: Sure. I would focus on the impact of each role and not what your responsibility was. I don't want to know what your job description is; I want to know how you made a difference at the organization that you were employed with and what your impact was. And it should be understandable by your mother or by your brother; if you give someone your resume, it should mean something and be comprehensible. So if you are in some fields in which there is a lot of technical jargon, don't include that. Try to make that fairly understandable to the lay person. And giving it to someone else to read as a test is a good way to gauge whether you've hit the mark. Also it's perfectly fine to include extra-curriculars, hobbies, etc. I would not include summer internships from undergrad; we're really primarily interested in your post-undergrad experience in terms of professional experience.
Linda Abraham: No high school grades, right?
Soojin Kwon Koh: No high school grades please. And even for college, we don't want a whole laundry list of all of the activities and all of the courses you took; we are really looking for a snapshot. So given that you only have one page to get me familiar with who you are, make sure that you are not focusing on your undergrad days only; it should be driven by your work experience as well. After I look at the resume, then I will look at the recommendation letters, just to get another sense of how someone else sees you. It helps me get a gauge of whether I see a potential fit in terms of achievements, interests, work style, team work skills, and all those kinds of things that we ask your recommender. And a good way to understand what we are looking for is to look at the recommendation questions themselves. And on the ratings grid that we ask your recommenders to fill out, those are the things that we are looking for them to evaluate and those are the things we are watching to see in our students. A word of caution on the ratings grade: there is often a tendency for recommenders to put 'top 1%' for every category just to ensure that their candidate gets the highest chance of being admitted. We are very familiar with that approach, and it really doesn't differentiate anybody given that everybody else is rating their candidates at the top 1%. So we're looking less what the tier of the ranking is and more on how they rate you on the different dimensions, and how they differ one from another. Then after the recommendation letters, I read the essays to say okay, now why does this person want to get an MBA? What do they say about themselves and can I imagine this person fitting? After I bring all of that together, then I read the comments to see whether someone from the Ross community agrees with the picture that's been established based on the written materials by way of the application, the recommendation letters, and the essays. And if there is a fit there and the academic quality is there, then they are a strong potential for an admit. If there is an inconsistent picture between the interview and what's on paper, we will take an even deeper review of those candidates and have a discussion amongst the Admissions Committee. But in most cases, the interview lines up fairly well with the application materials, so it's rare that we are so troubled by the inconsistency. Generally people are pretty good at representing themselves on paper as well as in person, once they get to that stage.
Linda Abraham: Do you ever see inconsistencies between the person portrayed in the letters of recommendation and the person in the essays? I don't mean the 1%, 1%, 1%; I mean just a sense of the person.
Soojin Kwon Koh: Occasionally, but it's really a small percentage. It's an outlier more than anything else.
Jonathan Fuller: I just wanted to make note to the audience that you'll notice that Soojin did not say that the first thing we look at is the GMAT score, or that the first thing we look at is your GPA. To a certain extent, I think there are two reasons for that. The first thing that I'll say is that generally we have an expectation on your standing that our applicants are going to be able to perform at a high level academically. And so even to move forward into the other evaluation process, we want to make sure that you are going to be academically capable and be successful in our MBA program which is a pretty rigorous academic experience. But there are many other things within the application that we put significant emphasis on besides just what your GMAT is and what percentiles you are in, and whether you have a 4.0, and all those sorts of things. While that is important, all those other aspects of the application are really what will differentiate you from the application pool.
Linda Abraham: Great. Jonathan, can you just tell us please how you review the application, or do you follow pretty much the same process as Soojin outlined?
Jonathan Fuller: We do all follow it pretty consistently in that manner, mostly because regardless of who is doing the reading, we want to make sure that everyone is having an equitable experience as the application process goes through. And it's worked pretty well for us in the past, so that's really how we end up viewing it from a consistency standpoint. What we don't want to have is a situation where if we were to put two applications next to each other and look at all the evaluation comments, etc. we'd be able to say that I know Soojin definitely did this one, and Jon definitely did that one. It's nice to have that degree of consistency and uniformity across the board.
Linda Abraham: The next question is from Ella. She asks, "Hi Soojin and Jonathan. I've been given to understand that Ann Arbor is a student town. What format and styles do companies use to recruit at Ross? In the sense, do they visit campus or do students have to visit the nearest big city on consulting treks, finance treks, and so on? Thanks for taking the time to talk to us."
Soojin Kwon Koh: Sure. We are actually very well located in terms of being close to the Detroit Metro Airport, and so we have a ton of recruiters coming here. Any of the recruiters that you see going to the top ten schools, you will see coming here as well. So we're not out of the way; we are about 45 minutes from the international airport so we get a lot of recruiters on campus. We've got more recruiters than we have students. So there are plenty of on-campus opportunities to be had. That said, there are students who are interested in focused opportunities whether it's for emerging markets, real estate, hi-tech, etc. So there are student lead career treks done during our Professional Development Week, where they organize trips to meet with companies, with alums, and with recruiters in those specific industries, so that they can begin networking and developing relationships to land full-time jobs after graduating. So we've got a variety of those focused on very niche areas: entertainment, retail, and I mentioned a few of the other ones. So those are student lead as well.
Linda Abraham: Ashish writes, "Thanks for organizing this session. I visited Ross during the Preview Day last month, and would recommend anyone applying to do so. The session conducted by Jon, to give insights on how adcom evaluates applications was really great." That was just a FYI. The next question is from Fang, and she writes, "Has Ross recruited students who want to pursue a second MBA degree before? Do you have any suggestions for such students?" Will you take somebody who already has an MBA?
Soojin Kwon Koh: Though occasionally we have, it depends really on the person's rationale for getting a second MBA. We look at where they got their MBA from, and what they want to do now. We are probably going to take a closer look at "Why MBA?" on this person because generally we hope you made the right decision the first time. But there have been cases where applicants have made a compelling case for getting it here.
Linda Abraham: Jon, what is the deadline by which they'll know if they are going to get an interview call or rejection letter? This question was from Sadita.
Jonathan Fuller: I would say that it's never too late. I tell individuals who may not have gotten an admission the first time around that if you're on the waitlist it means that there is a degree of admissibility that we recognize in you. But until you actually receive a rejection letter, there is still an opportunity for you to get in, in the subsequent round. In terms of the actual dates, our first application deadline was October 11th. On the 25th of October, we released our first wave of interview invitations for round one. Toward the end of next week, we will be sending out our second wave of interview invitations. If someone who applied in round one doesn't receive an invitation, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's a guaranteed rejection; that person might very well be waitlisted, or they may not have received an interview invitation because we weren't able to do a full review of their application because of missing application materials. There could be a multitude of reasons or ways to interpret that. So the deadline for us to notify everybody about the admissions decision for round one applicants is January 15th. I am sympathetic; I know it's a long haul and a stressful one for applicants, but you'll be finding out in January in terms of what the final deliberations are.
Linda Abraham: Does the timing of the interview invitation indicate anything of value?
Jonathan Fuller: The answer to that is absolutely not. We definitely go through applications in a random way; it's not as though we go through them alphabetically or by particular regions of the world before we go through others or anything like that. We get a lot of applications, and it just happens to be when the evaluators have an opportunity, or when your application comes up in their cue.
Linda Abraham: Bahman asks, "Hi Soojin and Jonathan. This is technically two questions, but they are related. Where are the majority of graduates placed in terms of location and industry? And is the Ross network pretty spread out across the country?"
Soojin Kwon Koh: Our graduates last year were pretty well distributed the Midwest, the West Coast, and the East Coast, the East Coast being NY, D.C., and Boston. So we had about 30% going to the Midwest which is primarily Chicago and Minneapolis where a lot of the CPG firms are. And then on the West Coast, a high concentration of our alums go to the Bay Area, some to Seattle, some to LA, but we've got a really strong alumni network in the Bay Area. On the East Coast, we used to have many more people go to Wall Street, but because of the financial crisis, there are fewer; we're still at about 20% in the Northeast and another 5% in the D.C. area. In terms of industries, consulting is the largest industry that our students go into; over 30% go into consulting. About a quarter goes into marketing, a quarter into finance, and then the others go into general management and strategic planning. As far as our top recruiters go, our top high rank firms this last year were Amazon, McKinsey, Deloitte, Accenture, Citi, UBS, Boston Consulting Group, Dell, Bain.
Linda Abraham: That's a pretty impressive list.
Soojin Kwon Koh: Yes. In terms of consulting and hi-tech, we do very well.
Linda Abraham: Ella has another question. "Ross recently relaxed the requirement for all applicants to have a four year degree, thus allowing applicants from say India, with three year degrees, to apply. Does Ross give extra weight to applicants with four year degrees/ master's degrees over applicants with only three year degrees?
Soojin Kwon Koh: You're talking about three year degrees from India; that is the change that has been implemented this year. No, there is no extra weight given to people with four year degrees or three years plus a graduate degree. We are going to look at the whole package. So someone who has a three year degree plus five years of really strong work experience could be potentially better than someone with a four year graduate degree and maybe one year of not as competitive work experience. So there's really no black and white in this. We are going to look at everything across the board in terms of your application.
Linda Abraham: Rotchna asks, "If a candidate is denied admission and is not selected for the feedback session by the Admissions Committee, is it still advisable for him to reapply?
Jonathan Fuller: Absolutely. We definitely encourage people to do so. And I wouldn't interpret being selected for feedback being any indication about our enthusiasm for someone to reapply or not. So if someone feels that there have been compelling experiences that they have had in the past year since they applied the first time around, then yes, by all means we definitely encourage that person to reapply. Every year is different. There definitely are consistent trends that we see in our applicant pool from one year to the next, the biggest one being that it is a competitive pool; that people are coming to the table with a lot of great experiences, a lot of great academic backgrounds, and have very interesting ambitions for the future. So just because you applied and were not admitted last year, by no means should that mean that you are going to have the same result if you apply this year. So I would definitely encourage that person to reapply.
Soojin Kwon Koh: Let me add to that. In terms of the application process, we are really looking for people who reapply to tell us something new about themselves; new accomplishments, new scores, whatever it is. We are not looking for someone to resubmit the same application because if it wasn't as competitive the first time, given that our applicant pool is not getting any weaker, it will be tough to be competitive the second time without something new.
Linda Abraham: How are you new and improved? That is the key question for re-applicants. Okay, the next question is from June. "I have heard that the Ross School has a higher standard for GPA. How much weight do you put into the GPA?"
Soojin Kwon Koh: I'm not sure what he means by "higher stand of GPA"; we've always had a high standard.
Linda Abraham: My guess is that what he is saying is that you put a lot of weight on the GPA relative to other elements of the application.
Jonathan Fuller: I would say that we have the academic bucket, the GMAT and your undergraduate performance being the main two components of that bucket. I would say that the GMAT definitely is a good indicator of your potential for strong performance in the first year of your MBA experience. But it is one examination that people can definitely study and prepare for, and perform well on the spot for that one particular test. An undergraduate transcript is a much more sustained indication of how someone performs in an academic environment. So to an extent, I would say that in some ways we do value that undergraduate performance, I wouldn't say more so necessarily than how we value the GMAT, but that is part of the reason why we put emphasis on that. Because for the span of that three or four years that you were pursuing your bachelor's degree, that is a better predictor of your academic performance in the MBA context as well.
Linda Abraham: Bikash writes, "I've read lots of the internet blogs, and you have lots of students talking about using the MBA as a platform to change tracks, change careers, from marketing to consulting, etc. I have a technology background and I've been working for the past 12 years. Post-MBA I plan to change my role to techno-managerial from the purely technical, as well as expedite my career growth. Do you think a Ross MBA could help me here?" I guess the question is not really so much 'yes' or 'no', but what are the tools that Ross would provide to help in such a transition.
Soojin Kwon Koh: Ross is a great place for people wanting to change careers; the vast majority of our incoming students are looking to change careers. Because we are very strong in general management and in strategy, that gives students a really great foundation for pursuing whatever career path they are interested in pursuing. The first year is general management, and it gives you all the basics of business from finance to accounting, strategy, and marketing. Once you finish the core curriculum the first year, then in your second year you can choose to focus if you want in a particular area by taking coursework and doing extra-curricular and club activities related to a particular industry. Or you can continue down the general management path and take a wide variety at Ross and across campus. And then our Career Development Office also provides a lot of support for preparing students to be successful in a career change strategy. So between our student peer counselors as well as our staff counselors, they can help our students develop the resume, the pitch, and the interview skills to be successful in whatever career path they want to choose.
Linda Abraham: The next question is from Rogers. "Do you have any tips for re-applicants? Also regarding the essays for re-applicants, do you have any suggestions regarding a cover letter, word length, a repetition? And does attempting an optional essay make any difference?"
Soojin Kwon Koh: Sure. I encourage re-applicants to submit a cover letter that is very reflective. I am impressed by candidates who do a thorough review of their original application and try to understand where they could have strengthened their candidacy, and address those things as well as also letting us know what is new in their experiences and perspectives. What have they learned about themselves through the last year between the original application and the new application? And regarding the optional essay, since you are writing a cover letter, the optional essay really is redundant. Anything you want to say, you can include in the cover letter. As far as rewriting the essays, that part is optional. If you think that there are ways that you can share something different about yourself by answering those new questions, then by all means please let us know. We are not looking for a rehashing of what you have already told us as far as what your interests and goals are, and "Why MBA now?", and those kinds of things. But if there is something new, that is what we're looking for because we will have your original application, and we will have that to compare it to, to see what's new since then.
Linda Abraham: The next question is from Cyril. He attended the Ross Information Session yesterday in Bangalore, and he had a great time. He thought it was just outstanding, and really appreciated the number of alumni who were there. But his question is, "I will have 11 years of work experience by 2011, and I'm certain that I want to do a comprehensive two year program and not an Executive MBA program. Should my essays explain this, and how do you view experience?
Jonathan Fuller: I guess in a nutshell how we view experience is not so much in terms of quantity of experience that someone is bringing to the table, but really what the quality of that experience is. So someone might have 11 years worth of work experience, but in terms of what they have done that is of substance could be just as substantial as someone who has many years fewer than that. So I wouldn't necessarily say that if you have x number of years of work experience then you must do an Executive MBA instead of a traditional two year program, or some other kind of full-time MBA experience. To the candidate, I would say that it's really a question that he is going to have to answer for himself in terms of what is going to be best fit for his career ambitions and what the various experiences can provide. In terms of our particular program, the average number of years of work experience is five, but the range is actually pretty wide. Most people will come to us with at least a couple of years of work experience, but I think in this most recent class, the range was as many as twenty years of work experience. But again, more important than just that raw number of years is really what the quality of that experience is. And how we are going to evaluate that is through looking at that individual and looking at those experiences as conveyed through the resume, the essays, and the interview. And we are going to see how we can answer the question: what is this person going to contribute here in the classroom environment? What are they going to be able to share with their fellow students to help educate them as well? So that's really how we are going to be looking at it.
Soojin Kwon Koh: Let me add to that and say that someone who has more than the average years of full-time work experience, we will be interested to know why you are seeking a two year, full-time MBA as opposed to the Executive MBA. The experiences are quite different. So we want to know that you are choosing the full-time for the right reasons, and you are not shortchanging yourself in terms of which program is the better fit for you.
Linda Abraham: If you feel that somebody is applying to the wrong program for them, would you reach out to them and suggest that they apply to another program, or would you just reject them?
Soojin Kwon Koh: In some cases we do, less so with the full-time MBA applicant pool and more so with our smaller programs. With the Executive MBA and the part time MBA programs, we might do some counseling.
Linda Abraham: Jamie asks, "Hi Soojin and Jon. Can I do an MBA-MPT or another program initially when applying, or can I decide at a later time?" I think the main question here is can you do a dual degree program? And can you decide later to do the dual degree, or do you have to decide before you actually arrive?
Jonathan Fuller: We offer over 20 dual degree opportunities, including one with public policy. You don't have to decide whether or not you are going to apply to the dual program before you've actually been admitted to the MBA program. You can make that decision or that distinction within your first year, but it does have to be within your first year of your MBA studies. If you go beyond that into your second year, you wouldn't be able to be totally classified and experience the time saving and the efficiencies that are gained from being a true dual degree applicant. But you definitely don't have to make that decision now. There are people who will elect to apply to a complimentary program during the first year of their MBA studies.
Soojin Kwon Koh: And the way the curriculum would work is you would start one year here, and then if you decide to apply to one of our other graduate schools on campus, then you would do the next year at the other school, and then the third year would be combined.
Linda Abraham: We are starting to get a lot of questions about GPA, GMAT and things like that. So I want to ask the applicants, how many of you are concerned about your GPA? Alright, 28% say they are concerned about their GPA. How many of you are concerned about your GMAT? We've got 31% concerned about the GMAT. How many of you are concerned that you have too much work experience? Alright, 21% are concerned about too much experience. And how many of you are concerned that you don't have enough experience? 18%. If I add these numbers up, it comes out to over 100%. So that would imply, not terribly scientifically, that everybody is worried about something, or a few people are worried about an awful lot in their application! The interesting thing about all these concerns is that they are all quantitative and not qualitative. I'm wondering if Soojin and Jon want to comment on that.
Soojin Kwon Koh: Sure. I wanted to comment on the GPA piece. A lot of people are worried that Ross's average is 3.3-3.4 converted from whatever scale. We are not looking for someone to hit that average. We also are going to be looking at what your major was, and what school you went to. What was the diversity of your curriculum? How challenging was it? What were the trends in your academics? So it's not just one piece that we are going to look at on your transcript, and we're not going to zero in on that GPA. We are going to look across that entire transcript to see how much did this person challenge themselves? Is that why their GPA might be a little bit lower or higher? And what does it say about the person in terms of the classes that they took? Do they show a curiosity for just one main thing or a variety of things? Those are the kinds of things we want to glean from the undergraduate record. But all of the quantitative stuff is just one piece of the whole picture that we have of each candidate. So I wouldn't obsess about getting that one piece right. You can't do anything about the undergraduate record; it's done. So there is no sense in worrying about that. You can take the GMAT more than once, and we will take your highest score. So if you feel like you haven't done your absolute best, then by all means, I would encourage you to consider retaking it. And we are going to be interested in the Quantitative breakout in particular, because the first year, especially the first semester of the first year is going to be highly analytical and quantitative. So we want to make sure that folks who are going to be in our program are going to be ready to hit the books, hit the numbers, and not drown. We don't have a hard percentage in terms of the percentile for the Quantitative, but we will be looking at the piece too. Especially for people who don't have a quantitative job or an undergrad major that had some quant skills with it.
Linda Abraham: What about too much or too little work experience?
Jonathan Fuller: Back to the comment that I made before, that what matters is how you convey that experience and how we perceive that to be a value to our overall student body, and how you are going to really be able to make that contribution in the classroom. I often tell people that an MBA experience is much different than what you had in your undergraduate experience. Because when you're an undergraduate, the primary purveyor of knowledge, the expert in the room is the faculty member. While that still holds true, in an MBA context you are also doing a lot of learning from your fellow students. So you are not just expected to be a competent learner, but you're also expected to be a teacher as well. So in that work experience there is the employability aspect and some other things that go along with that, but what we are looking for really is what does this person have to teach? What about their professional and their personal life experiences have they had and they are going to be able to bring to bear for their fellow classmates? I guess I would encourage the applicants or people who are considering applying, if you are interested in Ross and you're interested in our particular approach and philosophy with action based learning and other things and experiences that our program has to provide, go ahead and apply. Don't self select yourself out from consideration because of a percentage that you see, or a GMAT scale that you see, or a GPA range, or whatever it might be. Let us make that call and let us tell you if we think that you may have something to add, and we want you to be part of our community here.
Linda Abraham: Abucheq asks, "I applied in round one and have received additional responsibilities post that. I would want to highlight that due to the high profile nature of these responsibilities. How can I do that? Also, when are the admission notifications expected for round two?"
Soojin Kwon Koh: Regarding the first question, you can't let us know about it. Because we are considering apples to apples at the time of the application. If you applied in round one, your materials are done. You can talk about it somewhat in your interview if you are invited for an interview, but we assume that everyone has the opportunity or the possibility of gaining new responsibilities, new projects, new winds, new achievements, and we can't keep opening the faucet and letting people give us new information. So we are going to evaluate everyone as their application was submitted. And the notification for decisions for round one is January 15th.
Linda Abraham: I understand that Ross is strong in general management. How does Ross encourage entrepreneurship for students who want to go into emerging markets like India?
Soojin Kwon Koh: We've got a lot of great opportunities. We have an institute focused on entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial studies; it's called the Zell Lurie Institute. And through that institute we offer a lot of co-curricular activities such as working on a venture capital fund. We've got three different types. There is the Wolverine Venture Fund. Then the Frankel Commercialization Fund allows students to work with other students across campus if they've got a business idea and they want to take it to market; they work with our students to help commercialize that idea. And I mentioned the Social Venture Fund at the beginning. Also through the Zell Lurie Institute, we've got a grant program for people with new start-up ideas. It's called the Dare to Dream Grant Fund, and we award up to $10,000 for students to start a business while they are at school. The Zell Lurie Institute awards up to $100,000 in total to students to help launch their business ideas. And then we've got a bunch of case competitions where students will get together with each other or with other students on campus to react to a business case and present before entrepreneurs and capitalists, to see how quickly they think on their feet. In some cases, those can lead to internships or relationships that can help them post-graduation in launching their own businesses.
Linda Abraham: Thank you very much Soojin for coming today. I'm going to continue with the questions to Jonathan because he has said that he can stay a little longer.
Soojin Kwon Koh: Great. Thanks Linda, and thanks everybody for participating. We are very excited that you are interested in Ross, and hope that we will have a chance to meet you on campus one of these days. Good luck.
Linda Abraham: Ashish asks, "Soojin had mentioned it should be a one page resume. However, the application specifically said that it can be a 1-2 page resume. I am concerned with the answer because I submitted a 1.5 page resume. Does that impact my chances?"
Jonathan Fuller: No. We don't do a document screen or anything like that. I will tell you that I don't sit down and look at every essay and count how many words are in each essay. There is the first essay in which we want you to introduce yourself in 100 words or less, so in that one, we really do want you to introduce yourself in 100 words or less. Soojin mentioned one page because that is the goal that we have in mind, and that is what we would expect to see. And historically, occasionally when we didn't have more prescribed resume lengths, we'd see three or four page long resumes. No offense to an applicant that has a three or four page long resume, but if you only have a couple of years of work experience, honestly, you have no business having a 3-4 page long resume! But if it's a page and a half or something, I feel like I'm a broken record, but once again it's the quality verses the quantity. If you have a page and a half long resume that is full of quality information, I'm very happy that you gave us a page and a half. If it's a one page resume that doesn't have a lot of quality in it, you made the one page length, but if there isn't meat to it, then there isn't meat to it. So I would tell Ashish not to lose too much sleep over it.
Linda Abraham: Here is a question from Rick. He writes, "If I broke 700 on the GMAT on the first try and I think I can get a little higher, is there any reason to try again or is the benefit verses the time investment not worth it?" I think this is a really good question.
Jonathan Fuller: Yes, it is a good question. I'll start with a high level piece of advice that I give before anyone tells me if they've taken the GMAT yet or what their score is. I usually tell people that if you are in our historic eightieth percentile range, then that is a competitive score. And our eightieth percentile range is a 650-750. That's what it was this year. Our average is 704, so if you're in that range, then that is competitive. Again, that is only one data point within your application. I joke sometimes that I relish nothing more than rejecting people that have a 780 on the GMAT, because they come with the 780 GMAT and think they're golden, and they don't have to worry about anything else on the application. Well, you do. There are all these other pieces of information that we ask for, and you have to make sure that you are strong across the board. So to get to the gentleman's particular question, that's a decision ultimately that you are going to have to make for yourself. I'm not so naive as to think that Ross is the only program that you are applying to, and maybe other programs will give you a different answer, so you are going to have to put that into the decision. But I would just say that a 700 is definitely a competitive score; it tells us that you can perform at a high level in both a quantitative and a verbal context. I wouldn't by default say that yes, you should absolutely take it again to get another ten points maybe next time. There have been studies done which show that if you've done your due diligence and have done a full preparation and have gone in and taken the test and you have gotten a particular score, if you were to take it the next day, you should probably score about the same score within twenty points. So to go back to the benefit verses the time investment and the extra $250 that it cost to take the exam, that is something that he'll have to weigh out. But my knee jerk response is that I would say no, that isn't something that you necessarily should do. But it all depends on how the rest of your application comes together.
Linda Abraham: And wouldn't the undergraduate record also weigh on that? If the candidate has a really strong undergrad record in addition to this competitive GMAT score, then the rationale for retaking it, I think, becomes much weaker.
Jonathan Fuller: It diminishes. Yes, I would hear that. But if someone has a very spotty undergrad record, a low GPA and all of those things we talked about earlier, I would say as Soojin mentioned, you can't turn back the clock and affect any change on your undergraduate transcripts, so if you feel that you can make a demonstrable difference on your score, then maybe you should consider taking it again.
Linda Abraham: Nelly asks, "Would you ever accept an applicant who has a recommendation that he/she takes Quant courses before matriculating?"
Jonathan Fuller: So would we give a conditional acceptance? No. I would try to think through our different reasons why we would give a conditional admission. There are some applicants that we will give a conditional admission based on English proficiency. If we have concerns about the person's fluency, we will require them to take an English for Business Studies class that we provide here at Ross, prior to matriculating. But from a quantitative standpoint, no. If the concerns were that strong about your quantitative ability, we would probably not admit you in the first place, or we would put you on a waitlist or something to that extent. But we wouldn't say, sure we'll admit you assuming that you'll take a calculus course at your local community college or something to that extent.
Linda Abraham: Thank you again all for participating today. Special thanks to Soojin and Jon for joining us today. If you have additional questions for Soojin and Jon, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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