2013 Consortium MBA Q&A with Rebecca Dockery, Stefanie Bascom, Evan Bouffides, Monique Moreland and Ann Richards

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2013 Consortium MBA Q&A with Rebecca Dockery, Stefanie Bascom, Evan Bouffides, Monique Moreland and Ann Richards

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Linda Abraham: Hello. My name is Linda Abraham, and I am the Founder of Accepted.com, and the moderator of today's chat. First, I want to welcome all the applicants to the Consortium 2013 MBA Admissions Q&A. I want to congratulate you for taking the time to learn about the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, as well as to hear about its programs respective of the participating schools. You need to know, and I've been saying this over and over again, you need to know as much as you possibly can about the schools you are considering, programs you're considering, to make a sound application decision and to gain acceptance to the schools of your choice.

Being here today allows you to ask the Consortium experts and today's school representatives about these outstanding programs and their business schools. I also want to welcome our special guests for this evening,

  • Rebecca Dockery, Senior Manager and Program Administrator at the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management
  • Monique C. Moreland, Associate Director of Masters Admissions at CMU Tepper
  • Ann Richards, Director of Financial Aid and Associate Director of Admissions at Cornell Johnson
  • Evan Bouffides is Assistant Dean and Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid at Washington Olin in St. Louis
  • Stefanie Bascom is Director of Admissions and Enrollment at Rochester Simon
So welcome to all of you. These are the two questions that I think tend to be top of mind for Consortium applicants. One is about the fellowship and, Rebecca, I'm going to direct this one to you. Where will an applicant get any fellowships from Consortium member schools? How does acceptance to The Consortium and acceptance to schools and getting the fellowships all fit together? That's the basic question.

Rebecca Dockery: Sure. So The Consortium provides the application that allows you apply to up to six of our member schools with one single application, one single application fee. It looks exactly like what you would expect in a graduate school application, so you'll be turning in essays, recommendations, transcript, test scores, and application fee.

When you turn it in to us, what we're doing with it is making sure all of the required pieces are there. As long as all of the pieces are there, we're forwarding out the application to the schools you selected. So the schools are the ones that are reading your materials and deciding whether or not you're admitted to their individual programs.

If you're admitted to any of those programs, then the second decision made on your application is made by the Consortium staff, and [for] that we use an essay and a recommendation that talk about your commitment to our mission. That's what we use to decide whether or not you're going to be invited for membership in the Consortium. If you're approved for Consortium membership, the third and final decision goes back to the schools you selected, and that's when they decide whether or not you receive a Consortium fellowship.

Linda Abraham: So the Consortium decides whether you can become a Consortium member, but the schools decide who's going to get the fellowship.

Rebecca Dockery: Exactly.

Linda Abraham: All right. And then the second question that tends to come up a lot is could you explain the ranking matching process by applicants and member schools?

Rebecca Dockery: Okay. So obviously, within your application you have to tell us which schools it is that you're interested in, and you list them in a preference order, so first choice, second choice, third choice, potentially up to six. All six of those schools will receive your application at the same time, so they're all doing their admissions evaluation.

If we go through–again, those three decision steps that I mentioned, admission to a school, membership in the Consortium, and Consortium fellowship–we're going to skip ahead to step three. So we're going to assume you got admitted to schools and assume you got approved for Consortium membership, so now we're at the point where you are being considered for Consortium fellowship. Whichever school it is that you have listed as your first choice has the first chance to offer you a fellowship. If they make that offer, you're done. If they don't, we will go down to number two and so on down the line until you either receive a fellowship or you run out of schools.

Linda Abraham: Sounds pretty good. Okay. Now, Ann, Monique, Evan and Stefanie, could you briefly tell us what's new at each of your schools? I'm sure there's something going on that you want to tell people about. So, Ann, why don't we start with you? What's new at Cornell Johnson?

Ann Richards: Welcome, everyone. I'm delighted to be here. I just wanted to bring you up to date on what's new. We have two new centers at the school. There's a Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship as well as a Center for Emerging Markets, and the Centers actually help create coursework, trips, projects focused around those areas. The biggest news at Cornell as a whole, not just at Johnson, is the new New York City Tech campus that Cornell will be creating along with the Technion from Tel Aviv, to create an entrepreneurship hub, a technical hub on Roosevelt Island in New York City.

Linda Abraham: Great. Okay. Thank you. And Evan?

Evan Bouffides: Sure. I'll just mention a couple things. One has to do with academics and the other has to do more with the community experience that you will have. I'll start with the second one. One of the newest and most exciting things for us is that come spring 2014, we will be housed–the MBA students that is–in two new buildings, so we're very excited. Construction has started and we are very hopeful that this will allow us to expand in a lot of different ways, recruiting excellent faculty, perhaps recruiting more students, and certainly providing students with the resources that's needed to get an elite quality graduate management education.

From a curriculum perspective, about a couple years ago and based on feedback from corporate recruiters, we decided to take a hard look at how we develop the elective coursework of the curriculum. We've created something called career platforms which essentially serve as an alignment mechanism so that you can integrate your academics, you career management efforts, as well as your extracurriculars, so that you can provide a very cohesive strategy for concentrating in various areas of business.

We have five career platforms under which there are many concentrations, and I'll just list the five right now and move on. They are corporate finance and investments; consulting and general management; entrepreneurship; marketing; and operations and supply chain management.

Linda Abraham: Great. Monique? What's new?

Monique Moreland: Good evening, everyone. A couple of things that have changed at Tepper that we're really excited about, one is our curriculum as well. The curriculum is not necessarily changed, but it has been redesigned. So instead of having all of your core classes, all your fundamental classes, in your first couple of mini-semesters, you will also start to get some of the more functional areas. So you'll still have your probability and your optimization and accounting in your first two mini-semesters, but you'll also have corporate strategy and marketing and finance, and that's going to help you when you start to do your internship recruiting, which starts in January. So this will help you have a better sense of what you want to do.

Another really exciting thing is that we have a new leadership center. We know that everybody's going to get a great education, but also our goal is to provide strong leadership. The first step in what this leadership center is going to do is you'll have an experience week right after your first mini-semester, and actually our students are doing that right now.

Believe it or not, students have already completed the first mini-semester, have done finals already, and so they're doing their manager readiness assessment. What this assessment does is that it provides kind of a behavioral assessment. It evaluates leadership and proficiency in leadership. You're going to have a real-time scenario, and you're going to answer some questions based upon that.

Once you've completed the assessment, you're going to actually have some feedback on some of these strengths that you have and maybe some areas of development. Then, after which, you're going to have an action plan. So it's really exciting that you're going to actually have leadership opportunities, and some really key leadership skills is going to be done by a leadership consultant, someone that really knows exactly what is going on and [can] help you to enhance those skills.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you very much. Stefanie?

Stefanie Bascom: We have quite a few things that are new at the Simon School of Business. The first is thing is we've launched a new one-year, full time MBA program, and this is aimed at career builders with four or more years of work experience. They take four less courses than our normal two-year traditional MBA program, but they do two classes-worth of project that is integrated into the curriculum in the 12 months of the program. This one-year MBA program also qualifies for Consortium applications, so we're very excited about that.

The second thing is we started a new academic year this fall. Normally, we used to start in mid-September, but this year we started in early August, and this allows six extra weeks of time with our career management center, as well as students are able to take six courses and complete six courses by the end of the fall quarter, so that is in time for winter break and possible internship interviews. So it allows more knowledge of the business and MBA core curriculum prior to those interviews.

The third thing is Experience Simon modules. Those are six days of experiential learning, which we require of all of our first-year MBA students. A lot of it is case based, bringing in guest lecturers, CEO's, and talking about hot topics in the business world today.

Lastly, we're planning for our diversity weekend. That's coming up on Sunday, November 11th and Monday, November 12th.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you very much. Now the one-year program, is that for people who have a business background, a business undergrad?

Stefanie Bascom: Yes. That's for career builders. They don't necessarily have to have business undergrads, but we are not looking for a change in industry or function.

Linda Abraham: Great. All right. Thank you very much. So we have a few questions here from applicants. The first one is from Sheena who asks, "Can I submit my application before I get my second GMAT score if I'm retaking the test?"

Rebecca Dockery: Sure. Yes, you can submit your application as soon as it's ready. There's a spot in there where it asks you for your GMAT score and, obviously, you would fill in the score that you have now, and after that question there's a second question that says, "Or I will take the test again on this date." So make sure that you fill in that particular box with your upcoming date so that everyone is aware that a new test score is coming.

Now, as a word of caution, as you're getting ready to take that second test, if it's going to fall, especially if it's going to fall after the January deadline, make sure that you're in communications with all of the schools that you included in your application to find out what their timeframes are, because each one is on its own schedule as far as reviewing applications and releasing decisions. So you'll want to make sure that the test date that you've chosen fits in with that school's review timeline. So make sure that you're having that conversation with each individual program to make sure that you're test score is not coming in too late to fit into that review cycle.

Linda Abraham: Can I also ask the school representatives, would any of you re-review an application because a new score came in if you had already evaluated it?

Stefanie Bascom: I know the GMAT causes a lot of anxiety, and so what we and I think most business schools do, is we encourage you to study very hard for the first exam that you take, and if you did not do as well as you had hoped or that you know that you can do, we encourage you to retake it, and that is not a problem, as long as, obviously, it's within a timeframe for review of the application.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Great. Daniel asks–I'm not entirely sure I understand the question, but maybe he can clarify it if you folks understand it, "Does the involvement in the organization that proves commitment to the Consortium's mission have to be those listed in the sample organizations listed on the website? I ask because my involvement does show commitment to the Consortium's mission, but is not exclusive to African-Americans and Hispanics."

Rebecca Dockery: Yes, and just so everyone knows what we're talking about, there is a document within the Consortium's application that describes the membership review process and gives some examples about some activities or involvement that might qualify an applicant for Consortium membership based on the specific, mission-related criteria that we are looking for. But that said, that particular list that you're referring to is not a checklist of requirements of organizations that you have to be a member of, and it's also not an exclusive list. It's not a list of exclusive involvement, so if you're involved in something other than those organizations, you're not necessarily going to be excluded for not being a member in any of them. So, yes, I hope that helps.

Linda Abraham: I think that clarified the question, and the answer is also quite clear. Okay. Edgar asks, "Does the Consortium sponsor students interested in part-time MBA programs?"

Rebecca Dockery: No. It is the full-time, two-year at all of our 17 programs, as well as the one year programs at both Emory University and the University of Rochester.

Linda Abraham: This is a question–this might be a question for everybody. It might just be for Rebecca, "GMAT or GRE, are both acceptable? And is there a preference?"

Rebecca Dockery: From the application rules perspective, the Consortium will accept either. There are 15 of our 17 member schools that will give you the choice. There are two that do not. Two of them only accept the GMAT.

Linda Abraham: For the schools that are here, we'll go quickly through the list again, do you all have a preference?

Ann Richards: We do not have a preference. We'll take either and we evaluate them both the same.

Evan Bouffides: Yes, we also do not have a preference. My advice is for folks who are early enough on in the process to take a look at both tests because it may be that you are more comfortable and perhaps you'll do better in one test over the other, so it's worth probably doing a little bit of research to take a look at the parts in question. Some of the areas are quite similar, but there are some that are different, and I've been told anecdotally that certainly some students prefer one test or another.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Do any of you, I guess Monique from Carnegie Mellon and Stefanie from Rochester Simon, do either of you have a preference?

Monique Moreland: We do not have a preference. We just started taking the GRE last year, so we welcome students to take either test.

Stefanie Bascom: And that's the same case for Simon School. We take either, and we started the GRE last year.

Linda Abraham: Great. Okay. Is the GMAT or test score a factor in choosing who gets a Consortium fellowship? And this can be for any of you.

Evan Bouffides: The answer is absolutely it does. My suspicion is that all of my colleagues will say the same. It is not any more or less important than any of the other elements of the application, for sure, but it certainly is important.

Monique Moreland: Agreed.

Ann Richards: Yes.

Stefanie Bascom: Yes. For the fellowship, those are definitely the strongest of all of our Consortium admits.

Linda Abraham: I have a lot of questions here about tests and scores so I'm going to ask the people who are here a question via a poll. Here's the question, "How many of you have taken the GMAT and GRE and are happy with your score? How many of you took it and are unhappy and planning to retake? And how many of you are studying now for the first administration?" It might be interesting for the panelists also.

Seventeen percent have taken it and are happy with the score. Thirty percent took it and are unhappy and planning to retake. Fifty percent are studying now for your first test administration. That leads to my next poll. First of all, panelists, do you have any comment on this data?

Ann Richards: I think it is great that 17% have already taken it and are happy with the score. For the 83% that are taking the test either for the first time or again, I wish you all the best. Don't let the test psyche you out. Be as prepared as you can be. Be well rested and go in with the attitude that you're going to do really well on the test.

Linda Abraham: The other thing, and this relates directly to the question that prompted me to post the poll, Areni asks, "From your experience, how likely is the average of all your GMAT scores considered instead of your best score?" I believe all of you take the best score, right?

Monique Moreland: That is correct.

Stefanie Bascom: That is correct.

Evan Bouffides: That's right.

Linda Abraham: Okay. So there is no down side, really, to retaking the test. Sometimes I talk to people who are just so nervous and tied up in knots about this test, like you said, Ann, it's psyching them out. You can only do well or better. You should go in with a positive attitude. Prepare as hard as you can and then go in with a positive attitude.

The next poll, I wanted to ask all of you was, "Where are you at overall in the application process? Are you planning to apply for this November 15th Consortium deadline? The January 5th Consortium deadline? Are you planning to apply to schools in and outside of the Consortium?"

I'm guessing as most of you haven't taken the GMAT, that that 1/15 deadline is going to be real popular. Here are the results. With 68% having voted, 14% plan to apply for the November 15th Consortium deadline, 81% plan to apply for the January 15th deadline, and 52% are applying to schools in and outside of the Consortium.

I guess, Rebecca, is that consistent with your expectations?

Rebecca Dockery: Yes. We usually have about an 80/20 split between that 80% and the January deadline, so that's right about normal.

Linda Abraham: Yes. Okay. So that's no surprise to you. So we already answered the question that, again, prompted me to ask about the GMAT. I know many of the schools here have opportunities for people interested in entrepreneurship, and the next question relates directly to that. "Is a student eligible for internship opportunities if he or she chooses to concentrate in entrepreneurship? If yes, what kind of companies or departments typically look for students focusing on entrepreneurship?

Stefanie Bascom: We do have an entrepreneurship concentration at the Simon School. I have been in admissions since 2004, and I have definitely seen an increase in students interested in entrepreneurship. We have since launched a Center for Entrepreneurship, which is a university initiative, actually, and it's also a community-based and linked center where we bring in entrepreneurs-in-residence who will provide workshops or lectures to our students. We also have a student incubator as well, and a large amount of venture capital firms even located in the Rochester area.

We do have a class that is involved around the Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurship. We have a summer internship linked with that class where you would do an internship here in the Rochester area. We actually have a lot of start-ups affiliated a lot with the medical center, but not just that, we also have a lot of high-tech businesses as well. You would do the internship during the day and then would have a class in the evening to discuss the various opportunities, challenges, and issues that you're facing in your internship.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Could you address the question though of what internship–maybe I missed it–specifically what internship opportunities are open to entrepreneurship?

Stefanie Bascom: Sure. So that was the class that I mentioned over the summer. It's also during the school year as well where the companies in the local area request student help, and so it's basically you're providing your services for the first year in your expertise from the first year of your MBA study, and the business is receiving that. Then you're obviously receiving hands-on experience. So they would be local bio-tech firms, health care organizations, and things like that.

Linda Abraham: Monique, how does Tepper support the entrepreneurs in terms of summer internships between first and second year? ?

Monique Moreland: Well, we also have an entrepreneurship center right in the business school. It has actually been in existence since 1990. So we have a pretty strong backbone in entrepreneurship. I can honestly say that entrepreneurship is really strong in Pittsburgh. There are a lot of things that are always going on. As far as internships are concerned, our students have opportunities to work with existing companies as well as companies that are just starting out, so you do have those opportunities.

Now when you're working with the Career Opportunities Center, you may have opportunities to kind of do a self-directed search if you have a specific type of company that you're looking for. But our Career Opportunities Center, or our COC, is definitely there to help assist you as well as the Don Jones Center, which is our Center for Entrepreneurship. They have a number of resources available to students. Actually, right before classes start, they have a boot camp, and they talk to you about the ins and outs of what entrepreneurship is. They introduce you to alumni. They introduce you to entrepreneurs within the city of Pittsburgh. So you have a lot of resources available right from the start.

Linda Abraham: Great. Evan and Ann, do you want to comment on this question?

Evan Bouffides: Great. Very briefly, we have an entrepreneur center as well. It's also a campus-wide initiative that allows people from all different schools and backgrounds to participate. I would say that when I look at our entrepreneur students–it's a relatively small fraction of the class–a pretty decent fraction of them are not undergoing the same type of current management search as most of the other, what I'll call, "traditional" MBA students. In fact, I would say probably half, but maybe even more than half, are really looking to establish their own startups, so they hit the ground running, typically, even in the summertime to start working on these particular initiatives.

If they don't do that, they'll either try to go through a traditional MBA route just to gain experience, and they can go along functional lines into lots of different companies. In fact, most of the entrepreneur students will do a double concentration. They'll do the entrepreneurship, but then they'll also be well-grounded in typically finance, operations, or marketing.

Then, the other types of firms that will certainly recruit them are places that are early-stage firms and they want to assume leadership roles in these for a summertime. They may work in venture capital and private equity, although probably a bit less so, but that's certainly a possible career path. Then the final one would be consulting firms.

Ann Richards: I would have to agree with Evan. I do think students who pursue an entrepreneurial path, who come in entrepreneurial aspirations, are a little bit different. Their experience is a little bit different regarding the career management center. Those students really depend heavily on alumni, university connections, to help either establish their own business or to work in existing, small startups.

We do have a projects office that helps to source projects for people who are interested in entrepreneurships. We also have a fund for students who go into entrepreneurial ventures. But generally speaking, entrepreneurs have drive. They're self-motivated and this is really going to be student-initiated, but their summer internships and their career experience.

Linda Abraham: All right. Great. Thank you. We have a couple questions, one that's from Brent and one is from Kurt and they're asking basically the same thing. "If there's no difference between round one and round two Consortium applications, why would anyone apply in round one?" The other question is, "What are the advantages, if any, to apply by the November deadline versus the January deadline?"

Rebecca Dockery: Well, when you turn your application in to us, we forward it out to the schools that you select, and they have the discretion to put it where it fits within their particular review processes. So for some of them that could potentially put you in their round one, their round two, wherever they might be at that time in November. Some of them choose to hold it a little later and release those decisions a little bit later.

Really the difference between the two is the variables to consider, there is the individual school, but the main difference is going to be when those admissions decisions are released to you. So the advantage of being done in that first round is, in some ways, your own peace of mind. It'll make your holidays certainly a lot less stressful, but it could also potentially get you admissions decisions earlier from individual schools.

As far as the second and third steps in the admission process, those being membership and fellowship, no, there are no distinctions between those two. Those are considered–all of the applicants are considered together for those two things.

Linda Abraham: Okay. I also have a couple questions here about MLT. Roberto is asking, "Do you think MLT's are better prepared as a group than other applicants?" And Autumn asks, "I'm applying for the MLT this year and the Consortium next year. Do you have a heightened interest in MLT's? Can you discuss your interest in MLT applicants?"

Rebecca Dockery: We do have a very close relationship with MLT. We have quite a few students who overlap and are part of both organizations. You're not necessarily required to be a part of MLT, but if you do decide that you've got a year or two to participate in their prep program before you're ready to apply, then we do definitely recommend them just because the service they provide is very valuable. Our two organizations kind of fit together. They start you off with that prep process and then refer you to us for our application when you're ready to apply. So it's a great fit and very advantageous for students who choose to be a part of one or the other.

But as far as whether you receive any preferential treatment on the other end in the admissions process, that's really not something I can answer because the Consortium doesn't participate in the admissions review process or in the fellowship awarding, so I would have to defer to my colleagues on that factor.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Does anybody have any feedback on that question about MLT?

Ann Richards: I think that the prep program that MLT offers, it is an advantage. It doesn't necessarily mean that the students are better qualified, but I do think it walks them through a process that helps them be very prepared. They know what to expect in the interview. They know what schools are asking for in the essays. It's a coaching opportunity. It does help students prepare. It doesn't necessarily mean that they're better prepared than somebody who didn't do MLT.

Monique Moreland: I totally agree with Ann. I attended the prep session probably a few months ago, and the students have an opportunity to really get to talk with admissions officers, go through mock interviews, as well as learning how we as admissions people look at applications. So I think that, as Ann said, they're not better prepared, but they are prepared, and they have a better sense of what to expect.

Evan Bouffides: I think I might add also that apart from certain kinds of training that MLT provides, it provides also this kind of understanding of the internship search, the full-time recruiting process. And one of the things that you'll realize very quickly when you start applying to business schools is that we harass you with questions about your career goals and we're always trying to figure out why you're going to business school, why this is the right moment in time, especially in light of your professional career aspirations.

To the extent the MLT can provide you with more focus, which I think it does for a lot of candidates, I think that's great, at least from the perspective of story that you tell admissions officers about what you want to do. It may also help you from the perspective of the way you will navigate an MBA program once you get in.

Linda Abraham: Great. The next question is from Daniel. "For the mission essay, do you expect students to use one-third of the essays for each of the parts, A, B, C, or do you expect students to spend more essay space on part A?" And I'm going to add, "Or do you expect them to use the essay space as best suits them, as best reflects their story?"

Rebecca Dockery: Yes, because the Consortium staff members are the ones who are actually reviewing that piece of the application. The applicant is the one who has to make that determination. The applicant is the person who knows his or her experience better than anyone else and who knows what his or her story is better than anyone else. So the applicant is the only one who's qualified to make that decision for himself or herself, and it might be different from you and your best friend who's also applying. You guys might have completely different essays or completely different approaches and different styles, and that's okay. Whatever it is that is most compelling for you to tell your story is the way that you need to tell it.

Linda Abraham: Good. Okay. So, yes, it's individual, and it's the applicant's choice. Here's another question from Melissa. She asks, "What do past Consortium fellows who are not members of underrepresented minority groups have in common? Do you remember any examples of such fellows?"

Rebecca Dockery: I think Consortium students, Consortium members, have activities in common, whether they're members of our target groups or not because they all have to show a dedication to that mission, so that can come from any number of places. Some typical examples of things that we see quite frequently are involvement in things like Junior Achievement where people go into junior highs in disadvantaged areas and teach kids business skills, or if there is a group within their company like a diversity group within their company that they're involved with and active in. That's something that we see a lot of, people who do mentoring work with, say, like the Boys & Girls Club or something like that. There's a lot of different ways that students can demonstrate commitment to that mission.

Linda Abraham: Really infinite. We have a few questions here. I'm looking at Maxine's, "How many Consortium fellowships does each school give and how is that number determined?"

Rebecca Dockery: The number varies every year and each school has the discretion to decide how many it's going to offer that year, so I don't know yet what we're going to end up with this year. I would bet the schools probably are still making that decision for themselves as well, so we won't have a final actual number of fellowships awarded until the awarding actually happens. Over the past several years, it's been pretty consistent, somewhere between 60% and 70% of admitted students over the past several years getting a fellowship offer.

Linda Abraham: Wow. That's really high. So if you become a Consortium member, your chances of actually getting that fellowship are pretty good.

Rebecca Dockery: Yes. Like I said, it's been somewhere between 60% and 70% over the last several years.

Linda Abraham: That's excellent. Okay. This is a question, I think, for the admissions committee members. It's from Brent and he writes, "Like many others, I hope to apply to six schools to maximize my chances, but I don't want my number four or sixth-ranked school to think that they are safety or less important to me. Unfortunately, we are forced to rank and some schools will be four, five, and six. What can we do to prevent an adverse reaction from the admissions committee?" Now, each of you, what do you advise people in these situations?

Ann Richards: Sure, I'll start. I think the way to demonstrate to a school that you're interested in them is not in how you rank them, but in how your essays are crafted, whether or not you visit the school, whether you know about the school and can really be able to vocalize or convey why this program is right for you.

We don't pay that much attention to the ranking, especially in the admissions process. We don't pay any attention to how you ranked us, but what we really look at is, "Are you a good fit for our school? Can we help you achieve your goals? Are you really interested in our program?" That is conveyed in multiple other ways beyond just the rankings.

Stefanie Bascom: I completely agree with everything that Ann said. Something that the students also have to remember is that while we're different business schools, and we may seem like competitors, we are all partner member schools of the Consortium, so we're all together in this in trying to increase the number of underrepresented students in business school in positions of leadership in management.

We're all friends. We see each other on the road, and so we're not going to take offense to that. We understand that you hopefully did your due diligence and researched all the business schools, and you should be as comfortable with your fourth, fifth and sixth school as you are with your first, second and third.

Linda Abraham: Great. Evan or Monique, do you want to add anything to that?

Evan Bouffides: Sure. I agree with everything that has been said. We understand, of course, that you're applying to more than just our school, and that's a smart thing to do, and that's the right thing to do. Certainly from my perspective, the admissions decision is absolutely never impacted by how you rank us. Of course, the fellowship decisions are, as described by the process that Rebecca mentioned. But you shouldn't feel that we will think negatively of you based on a ranking.

Monique Moreland: I totally agree with that. If you think about it, even from students or candidates that aren't applying to the Consortium, they list on their application the schools that they're interested in as well. We don't take that into consideration as everyone has said. We're looking for students that fit our community, that can excel where we are and get the most out of the MBA program.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you very much. That's a pretty complete answer. Another question for the school representatives, primarily, "What unique programs or activities does the Consortium or your school offer?" I guess it's for Rebecca too, "or your school offer Consortium fellows to ensure that they are engaged before, during and after school and have the best chance of success?" So, Rebecca, do you want to start with what the Consortium does and then if the schools have specific programs for Consortium fellows, you can go address that?

Rebecca Dockery: Sure. One thing I think that we would all mention, all five of us across the board, as one of the biggest advantages to you as a part of the Consortium is something called the orientation program or the OP. It's a conference that the Consortium puts together, and it takes place every June. This is right after you've been accepted to school, but before you've actually started class.

It is four days of conferences designed to put you in the best position possible. So you are going to be meeting with your other Consortium classmates from your school plus the other 16 programs, so you're starting to build your network, your connection. You're going to be attending workshops that are designed to help you get ready for school and help for your internship search. There's going to be a lot of our Consortium corporate partners there who are doing interviewing for internship opportunities. So that is a great way for students to sort of get prepared to be on campus in the fall, and it's a huge advantage when you think about that in terms of what Consortium students have access to versus what non-Consortium students do where they're not starting any of that stuff until they start class two to three months later. So it's a huge, huge advantage.

Ann Richards: Sure, sure. In addition to the OP activities, our career management center has activities over the course of the summer that they encourage Consortium students to participate in. There are self-assessment tests and leadership development exercises that we encourage all our Consortium students to participate in, as well as course prep. We subsidize all of our admitted students, not just Consortium students, but all admitted students to participate in MBA Math, an online math prep program.

Evan Bouffides: Yes, I think a lot of the special attention and extra attention probably comes from what happens prior to the arrival at business school that is directly related to what's going to happen at the OP and also career management issues. So we will host about, I'd say, five or six sessions with our Weston Career Center with all incoming Consortium students. Part of it is, as Ann said, self-evaluation. A lot of it is sort of the mechanics of the job search, making sure your resume is in the right format, and then, of course, making sure that you're prepared to speak intelligently to companies once you get to the orientation program.

Once you become a student, it's almost 100% participation for our Consortium students in what we have, the Business Minority Council, and that's more of a social and a community force within the business school. So there are lots of social activities associated with that. For example, earlier in October we had a professional mixer networking event with our School of Law and our School of Social Work. There are often cookouts and other kinds of social activities associated with that. But then once you become a student, I would say that everyone from a curriculum and an academic perspective and from a career management perspective, get essentially the same resources. The only caveat is that Consortium students, because they have already networked with either other Consortium alums or students or companies, probably have a broader network than most, and it's certainly the case that the companies that recruit, for example, at the orientation program, do not necessarily recruit at all of the individual campuses. So I think that's one of the magnificent highlights of being a Consortium member.

Monique Moreland: As for the students at Tepper, we also have kind of preparatory sessions before OP such as mock interviews, resume reviews, and those types of things. Once classes get started, our students are really involved in clubs. We have a number of clubs on campus, and actually every Consortium student and every second year Consortium student had a leadership position within our school, which is really awesome because they've had the opportunity to network with people to get to know them. And they want to be leaders within the community. I think that just the prep work, OP and just the network that they've had has definitely helped them achieve those goals.

Stefanie Bascom: At the Simon School we have similar career prep before OP, and then once students start school, we do have an election for two first-year liaisons for the Consortium and then two-second year liaisons for the Consortium. Those liaisons will help us prepare and get ready for next year's class. We also have them heavily involved–all the Consortium students are heavily involved in our Diversity Weekend that's held on an annual basis, help with the planning, asking of the alumni to come back to campus, arranging student panels, arranging for the happy hours, and things like that.

Linda Abraham: Sounds good. Okay. Great. We have a couple questions here about the average amount of the fellowships awarded and what is the school that provides the largest fellowships.

Rebecca Dockery: The dollar amount of the fellowship is going to vary based on the individual school because they all, obviously, charge different tuition rates. But a Consortium fellowship, regardless of which school offers it, is inclusive of full tuition and required fees. So whatever that school defines as full tuition and required fees is what your Consortium fellowship will include. As far as which school offers the most fellowships, again, that's not something that I can answer, again, because we don't know year to year who's got what available for the coming year.

Additionally, we don't want applicants to try to–MBA applicants are very good at trying to turn things into formulas using Excel spreadsheets and that sort of stuff. They tend to try to formulize things that aren't necessarily "formulizable." So I just made up a word, but that said, they try to invent a magic formula to figure out, "Okay. If I know that this school offers this many fellowships, and I rank them number four, and I know that this school does that." It's really losing sight of the bigger picture and the bigger picture is, "Which school are you going to be the best fit for?" And that's what you should be using to determine which schools that you include in your application or how you rank your school. So that's really the more important question that you need to be asking yourself.

Linda Abraham: Yes. I couldn't agree with you more. All right. Another question from Darwin, "If the fellowship is not awarded, if somebody applies to the Consortium and they are not awarded the Consortium fellowship, but they are accepted to a specific school, what other financial aid options are available to students?" Is it possible, for instance, Ann, that somebody could not be awarded the Consortium fellowship, but still be eligible for the Park Fellowship at Cornell Johnson or similar kinds of thing? Obviously loans are available.

Ann Richards: Yes, and that happens every year. That either we're not able to offer someone a full-tuition Consortium fellowship because we may not be their number one school, or they're not offered the Consortium fellowship from us, but we offer them another type of merit-based scholarship, which may include the Park fellowship, which is a full-tuition scholarship for two years.

Linda Abraham: I assume there are also partial scholarships sometimes awarded, and they would still be considered for those other awards.

Ann Richards: That's correct. Yes, that's correct.

Linda Abraham: For Evan, Monique and Stefanie, is that also true at your schools?

Monique Moreland: Yes. When you think about how the process works, as Rebecca said, schools first evaluate you based upon their missions of their school, so once you're admitted into our program, you're automatically reviewed for scholarships. We won't know if you are awarded a fellowship until March, and if you apply in November and you get your decision in January, we're definitely going to possibly offer you a scholarship at that time.

Stefanie Bascom: That is the same process here at Simon. All applicants are considered for scholarship at the time of admission and so they're eligible for partial or full-tuition scholarships.

Evan Bouffides: That's essentially the same for us.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Great. Daniel asks, "I know the answer may be "no" to the question of whether admissions offices review Consortium applicants differently in comparison to regular applicants, but do schools expect lower GPA's and GMAT scores to be from Consortium applicants due to English as a second language for immigrants or the unspoken social disadvantages that minorities face in the educational system?" I guess this is more a question for the school representatives.

Stefanie Bascom: Sure. As was mentioned before, Simon does consider Consortium applicants the same way as we consider all other applicants. So we would have the same or similar standards for our Consortium applicants as well. We have a certain goal or target of how many students we want and also what kind of student we're looking for. So we're holding Consortium applicants to those same standards.

Linda Abraham: Great. Kurt asked, "Could the member schools talk about a few common mistakes they see applicants make during the application process?" I think if I started with this question, it could have taken up the whole hour. But, okay, why don't we start, this is probably going to be the last question.

Evan Bouffides: Well, theres are certainly a lot of pitfalls and mistakes that could be made. As far as the most common ones, I would say, going back to a point I made earlier, we really, as business schools, want to know that you, the applicant, have given careful thought to the notion of going back to school, getting your graduate degree in business, that it's the right moment in time, that you've really thought about what you would like your life and your career to look like afterwards.

I think sometimes students don't present with as much focus as I might like and sometimes maybe the reason for that is they're trying to second-guess what admissions officers want to hear. We really want you to craft a good argument for yourself that goes something like this, "Here's who I've been so far in my life professionally, and maybe even personally speaking. This is where I want to go, and this is how the MBA is going to get me there."

The MBA experience is only a couple of years. That's not a lot of time, and so to the extent that you can have more focus, or at least give us your best guess as to what that might be, that'll help you out in the admissions process I think.

Monique Moreland: I think one of the biggest pitfalls is that people need to take this process as serious as if they were applying for a job. This is a serious process. From the application to the interview to the interactions with the staff, it's just as important as if you were looking for a job.

As was mentioned before, we all talk with each other and so does our staff. If someone comes in and is rude to our receptionist or things like that, that doesn't look very good for you as an applicant, a Consortium applicant or an applicant in general. So my best piece of advice, take this process very seriously. It's just as important as it will be when you're applying for a job.

Stefanie Bascom: Sure. I agree with everything my colleagues have said. I'll take a pretty easy one: proofread, proofread, proofread. There's several applications every year–we've all experienced it–where someone is taking an essay on why they want to attend a certain business school, and they have another university name in there. This is not the best thing that we want to see. We certainly want you to be excited about coming to our school. This is a chance for you to show how you've researched the school, who you may have spoken with at the school, any alumni or current students, if you attended an event. So we really do expect you to know as much as possible about our business school prior to the application, and so that can come through in the essay.

Linda Abraham: Including the name.

Stefanie Bascom: Yes. I've seen many essays that have other business schools' names in them, so they're really just writing one essay and then just mail merging or just inserting a different school name. That's really unfortunate because we want to be excited about every single applicant and say, "Wow, they really want to come here," and that's something that we get disappointed about.

Would we reject somebody for that? Maybe not. It depends on everything in the application, and we've said multiple times before that we do consider every aspect of the application equally, so it's not just one thing. But certainly that might factor in, if we do admit that person, is a scholarship or something like that, so just be really careful with proofreading your essays and making sure that you're really talking about the school that you're applying to.

Linda Abraham: Right.

Ann Richards: I have to second what Stefanie said about that carelessness because the way that we look at it is if you're sloppy in your application to us, you're going to be that way with employers as well, and that's not how we want you to represent our program. So I really want to second Stefanie's comments and everybody else's.

The unique piece of advice that I think I have is to really take this MBA application opportunity to think about what it is, why it is you're going to business school. It's not just to get a better salary. It's not just to change a job. We have all created our applications in a manner so that it really forces good candidates to be introspective, to think about what drives them, what motivates them.

Take advantage of this opportunity. This is probably the first time in your adult life that you've really had the luxury to think about, "What is it that I want to do? What am I good at? What skills do I need to develop?" And if you really think about that, if you use this as an opportunity to really think about what drives you and what you want to do, your application will be so much stronger.

Linda Abraham: And you'll take so much more advantage of your two years of B-School.

Ann Richards: Yes, definitely.

Linda Abraham: I think this has been an outstanding event. I want to thank all of you for your very, very thoughtful, insightful answers. I want to thank the applicants who are here for your great questions.

Special thanks to Rebecca, and Monique, Evan, and Stefanie for joining us today. If you have additional questions, e-mail recruiting@cgsm.org.

We look forward to seeing you at future Q&A's and admission events. Coming up next, we have:

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 Once more, thank you all for joining us. It's been an excellent session, and participants are all typing their thanks in, so I'm just passing it on to the school representatives and to Rebecca. Best of luck to all of you with your applications. Thank you so much again. Have a very good evening.

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