2011 USC Marshall MBA Admissions Q&A with Kellee Scott

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2011 USC Marshall MBA Admissions Q&A with Kellee Scott

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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 USC Marshall’s 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 Kellee Scott, Senior Associate Director of MBA Admissions as well as Ashley Dyer and Michael Fowler, Associate Directors at USC Marshall. Thanks to everyone for joining. I'm going to take advantage of my position as moderator and ask the first question. What's new at Marshall?

Kellee Scott: This year, for the first time, we have implemented a revised curriculum. So the students who started the current class of 2012, actually started the last week of July instead of usually, in late August. Now students will start the last week of July, and they actually have a combination of orientation and classes. They take a small set of core classes through the month of August; most of them are quantitative classes. And then they have the option to take a waiver exam to waiver out of those classes, which would allow them as first-year students to actually start taking electives as early as the first semester at USC. So far it has worked out well. It is very helpful for students who are more advanced, who have been in business before, or who may have been business undergrads before. They start by getting an early lead on going deep into the concentrations that they want to have, plus it helps them be a little more knowledgeable if companies start coming in early for internships.

Linda Abraham: Is it also helpful for career changers because then they can start recruiting for some internships and such.

Kellee Scott: Yes, absolutely. What's happening is that recruiters, instead of coming in January like they used to for internships, are starting to come in October to start talking to students about internships. So this way, students get a little knowledge ahead of time, and it gives you somewhat of a competitive edge out there in the marketplace.

Linda Abraham: Marvin asks, "As a Canadian applicant, based on prior experiences, have applicants been successful in attaining a study visa prior to classes if they apply by round three?" And of course this would be particularly important if you are moving the "start date" up earlier.

Ashley Dyer: We definitely prefer that our international applicants apply in round one and two. We can't guarantee that by round three you will be able to secure a visa in that time period because we do not notify round three applicants until May 15th, and then our students begin classes toward the end of July. So once we review your I-20, we can't guarantee that the visa will be given in that time frame.

Kellee Scott: It's not difficult for Canada. This is more applicable for those who may be applying from, let's say, China. For Canada though, we have not had any difficulty in the past. Canada is actually one of the easier countries for someone to get a visa in that timeframe. But if you were in China or some of the Middle Eastern countries, sometimes it's a little more difficult.

Linda Abraham: So round three would not be an issue for a Canadian applicant?

Kellee Scott: No, not so much.

Linda Abraham: Jolie asks, "When will USC MBA announce interview invitations?"

Michael Fowler: Our second round deadline has already passed, so we are looking to start notifying people for interviews beginning on February 15th. On our website, we actually got a little more detailed and we put up the dates as to when we are going to start notifying people for interviews. So February 15th will be for round two applicants. For round three applicants who apply by the March 15th deadline, we will begin notifying them as of April 15th of this year as well.

Linda Abraham: Nicole asks, "What are some examples of internships and jobs that students have had success with in the entertainment, media sector? Since LA is a great location for this space, how is USC positioned to maximize this location?"

Kellee Scott: That is actually a very good question. Just so you are warned, entertainment is kind of funky, and they operate a little bit differently than the other companies. But as far as the major companies, as far as internships, absolutely; Fox, Universal, Disney, Nickelodeon, the major channels. But we also have students who are interested in the smaller production companies like Lions Gate, or some of the smaller companies that are affiliated with Paramount. So it actually runs the gamut in the entertainment industry because there are so many small, relatively independent entities. But the warning that I give you, especially for those smaller entities, is that a lot of those internships are still non-paid. It is an internship where they have so much demand that they don't necessarily feel the need to pay people, and people are willing to take the jobs without pay. So if you are trying to break into that industry, you really have to do networking, networking, and networking. But do keep in mind that you may end up with a fabulous internship, but you may not get paid for it.

Linda Abraham: It is the supply-demand curve in effect. Sushmita asks, "Do you allow transfer students from other MBA programs?"

Ashley Dyer: Unfortunately, you would apply as a new student and you would have to complete 63 units at USC Marshall. We do give the option with our new curriculum to pass waiver exams. And if you pass that, you can take elective units in place of those courses, but you would have to complete 63 units at USC.

Linda Abraham: I'd like to ask the audience a question. How many of you have applied round one this year? Nobody applied round one. How many of you have applied round two? 24%, 6 people here have applied round two. And how many of you are planning to apply round three? 7, which is 28%. How many are doing research vis-a-vis next year? 11% are doing research for 2012. That's great. Jolie asks, "For people who are invited to interview, when will the actual interview take place?"

Michael Fowler: We do offer a variety of different ways that you can look into the interview. We always recommend that if possible, you come to campus because it's a great experience. You can also participate in our Ambassador Program in addition to the interview and that is always a welcome environment. We also offer Skype for those of you who cannot make it to campus. Whether you are outside of the country or from a different state or your travel schedule just does not allow you to, we prefer Skype. For a select few individuals from different countries where Skype is banned, then we will accommodate you with a phone interview. But for everybody else where Skype is available, that is what we prefer if you are not coming to campus for an actual interview.

Linda Abraham: Amr asks, "How long is the academic semester in USC Marshall for the full-time MBA program?"

Ashley Dyer: For the first semester, the classes are not the full duration of the entire semester. They start at the end of July, early August, and then they go until about mid-December. So some of the courses are much shorter than that, and others are longer than that, though not longer than the time period, but it just depends on the nature of the course. The remaining semesters go from early January till around the first week of May.

Linda Abraham: Alexander asks, "Which new countries or cities are being considered for the PRIME Program in the next few years? Which locations have been the most popular in the past?"

Kellee Scott: When we used to go to Mexico-Cuba, of course Cuba being the big draw, it was one of the most popular trips. But currently, the most popular seems to be the trip that is Argentina-Brazil. So if you want to go on that trip, you actually have to put in for that one pretty quickly. As far as new locations, we're scouting around. We've added Russia just over the last few years, and hopefully if things stabilize, we'll be able to go again this year. I know there have been some investigative trips to other parts of Europe, mostly Eastern Europe, because PRIME is really focused on emerging economies. We are also looking to get back into India. Our PM program actually went there for their global trip, so we are looking to see if there are opportunities for Full-Time students to go to India and some of those areas.

Linda Abraham: The whole PRIME element and the international element seems like a fantastic aspect of the program. It's an arena in which USC Marshall was really ahead of the curve in the business school world.

Kellee Scott: Absolutely. The class of '98 was the first class that did a PRIME trip back in '97.

Linda Abraham: Was it required then or was it an elective?

Kellee Scott: It was required starting in 1997. That was the first trip. We went to China and we went to Mexico City. Since then it's been required every year, and it's been expanding to other places in South America as well as a little bit of Europe. And now all MBA programs are required to do a version of an international trip. So basically if you are going to come to Marshall for any of our MBA programs, you will need a passport with some stamps in it in order to graduate!

Linda Abraham: Steve asks, "I know that it is very important for a prospective applicant to tell a good personal story about why they want to pursue an MBA, why they want to go to USC, and what they want to accomplish post-grad school. I want to know how important these types of questions are for you and how we can tell a better story." I'm going to paraphrase that. If you can think of some of the application essays that you've read, without revealing particulars which might violate confidentiality, what made them memorable or forgettable?

Ashley Dyer: People who knew their story and it came together as a whole story. I think sometimes people forget that they've lived it, and there are large gaps when they tell their story. Have somebody read your essays to make sure your story is fluid and makes sense to somebody who hasn't lived it. Be honest, be candid. Let us get to know you. A lot of people will try to tell us what they think we want to hear. We really want to know who you are and you only have so many essays to do that, so let us know who you are.

Kellee Scott: And I'll add, as far as telling your story, realize that most stories are: I went to school, I got a degree, I worked a little bit, and now I've decided to go for my MBA. So there is a traditional story that everybody tells, but I think what really stands out is a candidate who can tell us something a little different and something that makes them pretty unique. For example, I had a particular story that still resonates with me from somebody that was pretty much coming from the typical engineering background. But in one of his essays he talked about fly fishing, which as far as I'm concerned has got to be one of the most boring things I've ever heard. But he told the story of why he took that up and how it helped him get close to his father which was very interesting. He even used the process of fly fishing as an analogy to the different levels of emotion he was feeling learning his father. Not everyone has to get deep like that, but again, it was an interesting story that resonated and still sticks with me. This happened about four-five years ago, and I still remember the story.

Michael Fowler: I would like to say that it is important to connect everything in your whole story. Not just coming out with: this is what I want to do. We are not looking for things to be detailed in the sense that we want to hear that in three years you're going to be doing this, and in two years, you're going to be doing this. But we really want to get to know you as an individual a little bit more; what your goals are and what it is that you want to do. One story in particular that I actually remember very vividly is one individual who talked about his experience going shark diving. Going shark diving is fascinating in itself, but he was really able to wrap that into what it was that he wanted to be able to do in the future. He talked about how he was really able to connect with people there who helped foster his business growth and his business acumen, and also helped him decide that business school is the right thing for him to pursue.

Kellee Scott: I would just ask yourself what you are passionate about and how that leads you to getting this MBA to follow your passion and your dreams. Everything is a business. Even when you are doing your hobbies it's a business, so there is a way to tie it all together.

Linda Abraham: I would like to point out that "passion" is a word that is frequently used in admissions, and I'm not sure it means the same thing to admissions officers as it means to applicants. My definition of passion in admissions is "action + commitment"; it's not just a feeling. It requires both action and commitment. So if you feel passionately about something but have done nothing, that is an emotion and it is not going to get you too far in an admissions context.

Kellee Scott: Agreed.

Michael Fowler: I would have to agree with that as well.

Ashley Dyer: I agree as well.

Linda Abraham: So if you want to write about something that you are passionate about, just keep that little equation in mind: passion= action + commitment. Katie asks, "Does USC offer interviews to MBA.PM applicants?"

Michael Fowler: Currently, we are in the process of implementing a new thing where we are giving PM students an option to submit a four-minute video that gives you an opportunity to come across with anything that you want the admissions committee to know about yourself. Right now we don't have interview systems set up similar to the Full-Time for it, but we do offer this optional piece to the application process which serves as a supplemental interview for you. You get the opportunity to really address the concerns that you may have, or you're able to elaborate a little bit more about your application to an admissions committee member that will be reviewing the video for your application.

Linda Abraham: Ryan asks, "I plan to visit USC Marshall in the near future. I've heard good things about the Entertainment Technology Center. Are there opportunities for visiting prospects to sit in on classes related to this concentration? Is there a particularly good time to come?"

Ashley Dyer: We offer our Ambassador Program, Monday-Thursday, every week while school is in session pretty much, with the exception of around finals because there aren't classes at that time. It consists of an information session, a campus tour, and then a class visit. We actually have classes arranged already, and they give about five courses and they are all pretty diverse. They might not be specific to what somebody particularly wants, but we do try to keep a range of courses available to meet the students' needs.

Kellee Scott: If you go onto our website, you will find all the pictures and profiles of our ambassadors. If you find an ambassador who is connected to the industry, contact that ambassador because they can try to arrange one-on-ones. If the professor is not part of the current core of classes we go to, they can arrange a one-on-one. They would have to get permission from a professor to invite someone to a class, but you can see if a student can do that for you if the class you want is not on our roster.

Linda Abraham: Monica asks, "What is the percentage of applicants that are invited to interview?"

Michael Fowler: I can't give you a definite percentage because it actually varies dependant on the actual application pool that we get from round one, round two, and round three. In round two, we probably have more interviews going on just because that is going to be the largest pool of candidates. But we don't have any sort of set percentage for the number of interviews that we have to meet for a class. If we find the majority of the class to be qualified and we want to interview the majority of the class, then we will interview the majority of the class. So it's really going to depend on the candidate pool. I'm sorry I can't give you a number as to what we break it down to percentage wise because we don't do that.

Linda Abraham: Anu asks, "How many applicants in the past came from a biotech pharmaceutical background and actually made it through the application process?" I don't know if you track it like that.

Kellee Scott: We don't track it like that. We definitely have had people who have their PhD in biotech, pharmaceuticals, and things of that nature. There absolutely have been successful people because we have several biotech companies like Amgen and J&J that come and recruit on campus. So that industry is actually growing pretty big and somebody can be very successful in that. But as far as a total percentage, we really don't track it that tightly.

Linda Abraham: Arash asks, "What is more important in the application process -- your GMAT score or well-written application essays?"

Ashley Dyer: We are going to look at the application as a whole. We want to see that you can succeed academically within the program, but at the same time we want to get to know you as a person and how you would fit in the program. So both are important. Academics are very important and that is one of the main reasons you come to a program, and we don't want you to struggle within the program. But we are looking at different areas for your academic records -- your GMAT score, your career progression -- there are different components.

Kellee Scott: I personally see them as both important.

Michael Fowler: There is not one particular area that necessarily stands out more than others. We look at your entire application when we break it down. And we are looking for a successful track record in academics, in the work experience as well, and a great story as to why an MBA is a valuable tool that you are trying to get at this time in your professional career. We don't weigh anything particularly more so than the others; we look at your application as an entire whole.

Linda Abraham: I once heard an answer to that and it really stuck in my mind. It was -- the weakest element of your application becomes the most important.

Kellee Scott: I think the fallacy that candidates tend to fall into is that they spend so much time worrying about the GMAT, the GMAT, and the GMAT, that they forget to put that effort into the rest of their application. There are so many times when applicants are invited to interview and we learn so much about a candidate that doesn't show up in their application. That includes writing a proper resume and making sure that you put down your accomplishments, verses a laundry list of what you've done and where you've been. Sometimes candidates need to be a little clearer in the essay about what their goal really is or what they are really interested in. And I think that shows in an application, especially when we see someone who took the GMAT multiple times, and we realize that they've been spending so much time on it that they didn't really pay attention to their essays or letters of recommendation, and they didn't pick the right people. So if you know that pieces of your application are weak, those are the pieces that you should work on before you submit it to whatever school you are going to apply to.

Linda Abraham: I'm going to ask the audience how many of you are concerned about a low GMAT. 68% are concerned about their GMAT and 32% are not. Nicole asks, "For someone with a weaker quant background, especially with a humanities major, do you recommend taking a course to build up alternative transcripts to better one's chance of admissions?"

Michael Fowler: For an individual that doesn't come from a quantitative background when it comes to your academic past, it is good to be able to show that you can complete the quantitative requirements for the MBA program. While we do not have any prerequisite classes for you to complete before you actually enroll in the MBA program, it can help if you are coming from a background where quantitative classes are not on your transcript and maybe you didn't do that well on the quantitative section of your GMAT. Taking a class outside, at an extension or a community college or another college, to be able to show that you can complete the quantitative aspect of a course can definitely be beneficial for the admissions committee member to look at and review. One thing I would recommend however is to make sure you complete the class before you start applying because just seeing that you are enrolled in the class doesn't give us a lot of information as to your success within that particular area. But if we do have an actual grade for it, it shows that you do have a certain level of expertise within quantitative aspects. But there are also other areas that come out in your application that definitely let us know more about your background. For example, work experience. A lot of people may not have quantitative classes on their transcripts, but their work is definitely quantitative in nature. So being able to highlight those things throughout your application, through your essays, and through your resume as well, can definitely alleviate any sort of concern you may have about your quantitative past as well.

Linda Abraham: Sushmita asks, "Approximately how many years does it take to complete the part-time MBA in USC?"

Kellee Scott: The typical amount is three school years. You meet two nights a week. You take core classes in year one. Year two in the part-time program is electives and so is year three. But year two is also when you go on your PM GLOBE trip. PM GLOBE is the PRIME equivalent for the part-time program where you are going to spend Spring break outside of the United States. But usually three school years is what people will do in the part-time program.

Linda Abraham: Achin asks, "Can I request recommendations from someone other than my immediate managers since I don't want to jeopardize my job?"

Ashley Dyer: Yes, of course you may request recommendations from someone other than your supervisor. We definitely understand that. Especially over the last couple of years, this has been something more common. But we do want to see somebody that has seen you as a supervisor writing the recommendation, so get a past supervisor, etc. Just let us know in the optional essay; it doesn't have to be extensive, but just let us know. We are completely aware of the economic environment out there. So let us know briefly that you are not letting your current supervisor know, just so that we are not left to wonder. You never want us wondering why you aren't having your current supervisor writing your letter of recommendation.

Linda Abraham: So if your current supervisor can't do it, then a past supervisor or perhaps a client or something like that would be a good substitute.

Ashley Dyer: Definitely.

Michael Fowler: I'd like to add one more thing. For those of you who have created your own business, started your own company, or whatever it may be, you don't really have a direct supervisor necessarily to go pursue a letter of recommendation from. So that is definitely where a past supervisor can come into play, or a client, or someone who you work closely with, who will be able to give us insight into your work and your leadership ability. So there are ways for you to come up with a quality letter of recommendation if you have started your own entrepreneur venture as well.

Linda Abraham: Are applicants who come from entrepreneurial backgrounds or from a small business background in some way disadvantaged in the admissions process because the employment path is less well-known?

Kellee Scott: I would say absolutely not. One thing about Marshall is the diversity of backgrounds of the students in our program. And we are definitely going to have our share of folks who may come from the typical Fortune 500 companies, but we also have a lot of students from mid-size, small companies. California, and LA in particular, is home to the largest bloc of mid-size companies in the world. Also we have a very entrepreneurial spirit here in California, so you are going to have some people who spend some time at small start-ups, who may have been successful or may have failed. So there is no disadvantage. The key for any candidate is that no matter where you were, no matter what your title was, what did you do while you were there? How did you impact that environment? And the recommenders you choose should be able to validate all those great things you should be saying about these things that you've accomplished. So it's less about the titles, it's less about the stature of the company; it's really about you and what you've done.

Linda Abraham: James asks, "When do most IBEAR applicants submit their applications, and do you have a recommended time frame?"

Kellee Scott: Let's pass on that. IBEAR has a separate admissions office, so they should direct the questions to IBEAR.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Peter asks, "If I'm studying to earn the certification like a CPA and CFA or something along those lines within my industry, can I state so in my application? Will it have any weight in the application process?"

Ashley Dyer: Yes, definitely let us know that is what you are doing. And if you've passed the test, let us know that as well. Nothing in the application is assigned a weight throughout any part of the application. So we'll look at it, but it is a factor when we are looking at the bigger picture; there is no weight assigned to it.

Linda Abraham: How is hiring and recruiting going this year for 2011 grads?

Kellee Scott: The latest from the Career Center so far has been positive. More companies are coming to USC, and actually some of the companies who left during the recession are coming back. In fact, I think we have five companies here today hiring. They are still not coming back to hire the large numbers. Some companies used to look to hire ten or twelve. They are coming back but they are looking to hire seven or eight instead of the larger numbers. But there are still more opportunities out there and some of the smaller companies are starting to actually show some signs of life. So, so far positive, but it's very early to give a number because usually we wait until ninety-days after graduation.

Linda Abraham: Marvin asks, "Does USC offer international students scholarship opportunities, and if so, when is the deadline for those applications?"

Michael Fowler: We have a fellowship here at USC which consists of half-tuition or full- tuition; it's one of those two options. So basically in order to be qualified or to be considered for the fellowship here at Marshall, you have to apply by round one and round two. All candidates in round one and round two will be reviewed for admissions as well as fellowship offers. Your offer will be extended to you for the first year as well as the second year, as long as you remain in good academic standing here at Marshall. Notification for the fellowship comes out with your official letter of admissions into the program. There is no distinction or difference when it comes to an international candidate or a domestic candidate when we are reviewing for fellowships. All candidates are considered equal across the board so we don't break it down percentage wise saying that we are going to offer a certain amount of fellowships to international verses domestic students. It's one big pool of candidates for the fellowship and we determine based on merit solely. So round one and round two applicants, just submit your application. There is no additional information that you need for it and you will be considered for a fellowship.

Kellee Scott: It's not that round three is not considered; it's just that more money is available in round one and round two, so we recommend that people try to hit those deadlines. But if you are a real good, quality applicant in round three, it is possible to be considered for a scholarship in that round as well.

Linda Abraham: Nicole asks, "Regarding transcripts, when applying, does one only need to send transcripts from the four-year institution where they have received a degree, assuming no credits were used to transfer?" I would assume that question is asking whether somebody who takes some classes after graduating with an earned degree has to report that or not.

Kellee Scott: Not necessarily. If it's not transferred to any of the transcripts that they are sending in, they don't necessarily have to report it. But if it is something they are doing to make their application stronger, I would say -- why not?

Michael Fowler: The other thing to keep in mind is if you do put more than one college on your actual application, so if you do say that I graduated from this school but I also went to school here, then the university will require that you submit the transcripts from that other institution as well. So if you are not using them or if they weren't used to obtain your degree or to transfer for whatever reason, then you want to make sure you have submitted all the transcripts for all schools stated in your application.

Linda Abraham: So the short summary of this would be that you don't require all post-secondary education to be reported, just that education that contributed to the degree.

Kellee Scott: That is correct.

Linda Abraham: Rahim asks, "Can you explain the difference as well as some of the benefits between the Executive MBA and the part-time MBA?"

Kellee Scott: They are actually two different types of programs. The Executive MBA is really focused for those with 8-10 years of work experience. They are not necessarily looking back to really delve into fundamentals, but they want to be around people who have more of a strategic focus. The group is a lot different. Also in the Executive MBA, it is a lock-step program completely, so there are no electives with the Executive MBA. As far as the part-time program, it is more of a reflection of Full-Time, except you are just going part-time in the evenings and working during the day. They are actually two separate programs, but I guess the candidate needs to think about what they are trying to learn and the type of audience they want to be around, and then what they want to do with their MBA. Because if you are looking to go into some traditional company, then you may need to be in the part-time program, but if you are looking for more of a strategic spin and you are at a high level in your career as it is, you may not want to go back to some of the fundamentals. I would highly recommend that anyone who is deciding between programs actually go to the information sessions on each one. Both part-time and Executive MBA have information sessions once a month. They are posted on the website, and you can actually register online for those. And just so you know, with both programs, they have two campuses; so there is part-time LA and there is a campus in Irvine. If you are interested in Executive, there is LA and then there is the San Diego, Carlsbad campus. So go online, and I would suggest you visit and sit in on the information sessions of both.

Linda Abraham: I'm wondering if any of you have some tips for people who are wait-listed.

Ashley Dyer: Continue to keep us updated on what you are doing, but make sure it is beneficial information. We don't need weekly emails on what you've been up to, but definitely if you get a promotion or if you do something that is beneficial to your application, let us know that. Send us an email and let us know what you've been up to in terms of your professional life, or your personal life if you've done something that can enhance your application.

Michael Fowler: Make sure that it's relevant to your application. We receive a lot of emails and the last thing you want to do, not just for us but for any school if you are put on the wait-list, is continue to bombard the admissions committee with weekly or daily updates as to what you've accomplished. But think more about your accomplishments in the context of how it can benefit your application and how it can help to strengthen it and give the admissions committee more insight as to your professional growth or your personal growth.

Kellee Scott: And for reference, I'll just add the process as well. If you are on the wait-list, just know that we review the wait-list at the end of every round. So as we are going into round two, when we are going into the decision process, we will review again those who are on the wait-list from round one because it is all relative. And it is possible for you to be called from the wait-list at the end of each round. And usually in the May - June timeframe, you can be called off the wait-list at any time. So unfortunately, it's kind of a nebulous region because you don't have a definite answer, but if you're still there, that means your application is still in play.

Linda Abraham: And that means that there is still hope and a chance. Nicole asks, "How would you say USC Marshall is attempting to build a strong, collaborative community? Can you cite examples of recent activities that allow MBA students to bond?"

Michael Fowler: Since it is somewhat of a small class that we bring in -- we are looking at 215-225 students every year -- so there is a variety of different ways for students to really get involved. First of all, we break everybody into different cohorts when it comes to progressing through the core classes. That allows you to stay with a certain amount of students in order to complete all your core classes. Within those core classes we also have smaller study groups that are broken up into anywhere between 6-8 students, and that really allows you to develop a relationship with those students as well. The class environment is very collaborative. You are going to find that it is not solely lecture based; there are going to be a lot of group presentations and there are going to be a lot of case studies -- things to really engage the individuals around you. We feel that in an MBA environment it's very important to be collaborative, especially since we do have a very diverse class of individuals from diverse backgrounds and all different walks of life. So you are going to learn a lot of these concepts and be able to really understand them better by having somebody next to you or around you help to teach you a little bit more than just the basic concept that your professor is going to be teaching you. In addition to that, we have a lot of organizations and a lot of community service. We have outreach where you are doing a lot of tutoring to K-12 schools around here in the local communities. We have our C for C -- Challenge for Charity -- which students get involved in as well. So there is a lot of community involvement here. There are a lot of student organizations to be involved in and there are a lot of other social activities that they put together in order to really foster a community environment and help you to really feel more at home and develop lasting relationships with your class.

Linda Abraham: Are there any special considerations in the evaluation process given to re-applicants. Do reviewers also look at last year's application when reviewing the application of a re-applicant or do they just look at reviewers' notes, or do they ignore last year's application?

Kellee Scott: That's a very good question. I won't say that we ignore last year's application. First of all, as a re-applicant, it is actually positive in itself that you are actually still interested in USC Marshall. So that is always something positive for us to think about. As far as looking at last year's application, no, we are not going to look back and really read the whole thing, but we are going to look at notes because we want to see if you've improved over last year's application. If you keep doing the same thing, you are going to get the same results. So if you are going to be reapplying, you need to let us know what you've done over this year to improve from last year's application. I think the number one thing that tends to pop up is people who will re-take the GMAT or someone who will get a promotion or have more work experience on their application. But as far as in the entire pool, no, the application is not going to get any special consideration. But again, we see that this person really wants to come here and that is something that is considered pretty positive.

Linda Abraham: Is there any minimum amount of work experience required at USC Marshall?

Ashley Dyer: Most successful applicants have at least two years of work experience; it's not a requirement. But we are looking at quality of work experience, what you have done, over quantity of years of work experience. We want to know you are ready for the degree; that you can contribute to the classroom environment and that it's a good time for you in your life.

Linda Abraham: Do you have any more suggestions for rejected applicants who want to reapply to Marshall?

Kellee Scott: If you are not admitted into the program and you are going to look to reapply the following year, we always offer a 15-20 minute counseling session by phone in the month of September. So once the class is in, those applicants are allowed to call us. Usually in late August is when you schedule those appointments, and you will have a chat with an admissions officer to talk about your application and give you tips and a little bit of counseling on how you can improve if you decide to reapply the following year. So hopefully you'll take advantage of that.

Linda Abraham: I am frequently approached by re-applicants, and I always tell them to go and get feedback from the schools if the schools are providing it, because if there is something that they need to do then they need to know about it. So if they've made mistakes in their presentation of their qualifications, they need to know about that as soon as possible. So take advantage of all offers for feedback. How do you use the interview in the admissions process?

Michael Fowler: The interview is used as another component of the application. So if we decide to invite you for an interview, we'll invite you to campus through Skype or whatever it may be, and we'll take anywhere from 30-40 minutes to sit down and talk with you to really understand you as an individual, more so than just your application and the paper version of what you submitted. We want to know more about your goals, the career path that you are looking to take, you as a person and what you have accomplished, and those types of things. It gives us an opportunity to get more insight into you as a candidate verses just your paper application. So when we do the interview, it is another component that goes into the application process. It is considered in the whole of the application so it doesn't mean that your interview is going to be weighted higher than what you've already submitted for review. There is no more significant weight placed on the interview verses your application, but it is a way for us to get more information about you and see if you would fit well into the incoming class that we are trying to put together.

Linda Abraham: Thank you again all for participating today. Special thanks to Kellee, Ashley & Michael, for joining us today. If you have additional questions for Kellee, please email them to marshallmba@marshall.usc.edu. We look forward to seeing you at future Q&A and Events. As you can see, we have several upcoming Q&As, including:

Visit our event schedule page for our full list of upcoming events and details, or to register. You can also subscribe to our events list by clicking reminders on our event schedule page.

Good luck with your applications!

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