2013 Ask Consortium Adcom MBA Q&A with Rebecca Dockery, Rabia Ahmed, Jon Fuller, Cindy Jennings-Millette and Alison Jesse

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2013 Ask Consortium Adcom MBA Q&A with Rebecca Dockery, Rabia Ahmed, Jon Fuller, Cindy Jennings-Millette and Alison Jesse

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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. I want to welcome all applicants to the Ask Consortium Ad Com MBA Admissions Q&A. I want to congratulate you for taking the time to learn more about the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management and hear about its program from the perspective of the participating schools and the people who will be evaluating your applications and your qualifications for these schools. You need to know as much as you can to make sound application decisions, 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 this outstanding program, and the experiences you can expect in business school.

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
  • Rabia Ahmed, Director of MBA Admissions at NYU Stern
  • Jon Fuller, Senior Associate Director at Michigan Ross
  • Cindy Jennings Millette, Associate Director of Admissions at UC Berkeley Haas
  • Alison Jesse, Senior Associate Director of MBA Admissions at UNC Kenan-Flagler.
Thanks to everyone for joining. This is your chance to ask questions about the Consortium and participating MBA programs.

But I'm going to take advantage of my position as moderator and ask the first few questions, which also almost always seem to be at the top of applicants' minds when we discuss the Consortium. The first one, will I get my fellowships from Consortium member schools themselves if I am declined from the Consortium fellowship or even membership?

Rebecca Dockery: Okay, so there are three decisions made on every applicant, and they happen in a very specific order. So when you turn in your application to us, what we're doing is making sure all of the required pieces are there. As long as all of those pieces are there, we're forwarding the application off to the schools that you've selected. So those schools are the ones that are reading through those materials and making the first decision, which is whether or not you're admitted to that particular program.

The second decision is made by the Consortium. That is based on an essay and a recommendation that you turned in that talk about your commitment to the Consortium's mission, so that's what we use to decide that number two, which is whether or not you are invited for Consortium membership. If you're approved for Consortium membership, the third and final decision goes back to the schools, and that's when they decide whether or not you receive the Consortium fellowship.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Great. Thank you very much. Now, the first question posed is from Angie, and she writes, "Hello, good afternoon. I have a question regarding criteria for fellowship awards. Academic potential is certainly one of the criteria; however, does work experience and commitment to diversity matter to the school when awarding the fellowship?" In other words, are you just going to be looking at grades and academics when you decide whether to award the fellowship, or are you also going to be looking at the work experience and commitment to diversity?

Alison Jesse: Yes, certainly, we don't just look at one person and have a formula, it's not formulaic at all. Rather, we will look at work experience. That's very important to us. We're also going to look at other factors, including the interview that the applicant has had, the different recommendations that we receive, and then, finally, we will look at the commitment to diversity, although the commitment to diversity essay is really something that, as a school, we don't see, that is submitted to the Consortium.

Jon Fuller: Overall, I think the Consortium Fellowship award falls into the same camp as a lot of other scholarship awards, which are merit-based as opposed to something that might be need-based. So merit can be defined in any number of different ways. The categories that the person who posed the question listed are definitely some that fall into that, and then just like Alison said, some of the things that also fall into merit are strength of interview, what do we think you're going to bring to our community, and that might be defined as what your work experience is, your academic strengths, your enthusiasm for our program. So, yes, there really are a lot of different metrics that go into making that award, and while academics is certainly an important one, it's really a whole host of factors. Just like there isn't a formula for admissions, there really isn't a formula that's adhered to when fellowship decisions or scholarship decisions in general are made. You know, each school in the Consortium–there are 17-member programs, and every school might have a slightly different answer in terms of what they might leverage the most. So as you're shortlisting your programs, I'd definitely encourage you to talk to admissions officers like me and the other people that are on the call. Connect with them and say, "Hey, what are the things that I can do within my profile and within my application, what can I try to emphasize, assuming I'm going to be admitted, what can I do to maximize my opportunity, when it comes to funding as well?" For one, you have to, of course, worry about being admitted, but two would be being a glass half full person, I hope.

Linda Abraham: Sounds good. Saresh asks, "What happen if a school accepts the applicant, but the Consortium decides he's not eligible for the fellowship? Can the candidate look for alternate sources of funds to go ahead with admission?" I assume that would be other fellowships.

Cindy Jennings Millette: We encourage anyone who doesn't get the Consortium Fellowship to apply to our other fellowships that we have. In fact, we have had people who've been admitted to Berkeley who haven't necessarily been accepted to be a member of the Consortium and have received other scholarships, so it certainly does happen.

Rabia Ahmed: Hello, everyone. As Cindy said, we also offer merit-based scholarships to students that we feel are meritorious, and so if students are not awarded the Consortium Fellowship, they can certainly be awarded one of many other donor awards, or scholarships or fellowships.

Linda Abraham: Carlos asks, "Is there a difference between scheduling interviews if you are applying through the Consortium than if you are not applying through the Consortium?

Alison Jesse: So I can talk about, I think all of us, probably have a nuanced response to that. I will say that some schools have interviews where the application has to have been received, some don't. So that is a question you're going to want to ask each individual school. In the case of UNC Kenan-Flagler, we actually send you an ID. We have open interviews, so you will receive information from us how you can schedule your interview.

Rabia Ahmed: For us at Stern, all of our interviews are by invitation only, and they're done after the admissions committee has reviewed the application, and so it can happen at any point after the submission of the application. I just want to reiterate what Alison just said that every school's interview policies and processes are very different, so they should definitely contact the schools that they're applying to, to find out what their policies are. For some schools, you interview before you submit an application, for others, you interview after the application has been reviewed by the admissions committee.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Great. Shirane asks, I think this is a great question, "Besides the opportunity to gain financial support, what are some of the other advantages of applying through the Consortium?" So, one is the one application.

Rebecca Dockery: The first benefit, Linda, you hit on it already, is the common application. It is one single application that lets you apply to up to six of our schools with one application and one application fee, so it certainly makes your life easier in the application process. And your recommenders will like you a little bit more, because they only have to do one letter, instead of six.

After the point where you are admitted to a school and potentially invited for Consortium membership, there's a whole host of benefits available to you assuming you accept that membership or fellowship offer. So the biggest one, the most visible one, is called our orientation program, or OP. It's a four and a half day conference that happens in June, so we fly you in to the conference location. This coming year it'll be New Orleans, so that's going to be fun. We put you up, obviously, in a hotel for those four days, and so during that particular conference, you have the opportunity to start building your business school network. You start meeting with students from your school as well as the other 16 because this is going to be your peer network, not only while you're in school, but once you have graduated and have moved on to the professional realm as well.

Additionally, there are different tracks going on, as far as learning about and exploring different career opportunities. There's a lot of alumni present, as well as corporate partners, who are there potentially interviewing for internship opportunities for that next summer. So it's a really great advantage for Consortium students, and again, this happens in June. So this is all two to three months before you've actually set foot on campus. So it's a huge, huge advantage, in terms of networking and potentially working on your internship search, over your non-Consortium classmates.

Linda Abraham: Great. We have a question here from, Adrianna, who asks regarding salary information. "For the application, I worked outside of the U.S., and the salary would look very low if converted to dollars. What do you recommend, and what is the best practice for this case?"

Cindy Jennings Millette: Well, that's an interesting question. We definitely do get the salary information, but that's not really something, I think we do, as a lot of the schools, I don't know if everyone looks at that information. We do at Berkeley. And we don't use that, really, as a criterion of what type of job you have, because we do understand that being an international student and coming from other countries that there is kind of a variance in the salary. So I don't consider that information to be something that we really use in determining the strength of your work experience.

So I probably would say I wouldn't worry about it. I don't know if that's the best way to put it, but the work experience, the way that we're going to gather that is by looking at your resume, your career progression. We're going to be looking at the letters of recommendation from your employers to find out what type of significant leadership potential you have or team skills. So that's the kind of thing we're looking at to look at work experience, not really the salary information. That's not something that we use in our evaluation.

Alison Jesse: I would agree with what Cindy said. We use it exactly the same way. We look at that in the context of the country, but more important would be the progression that we would glean from the recommenders and also from work experience description.

Linda Abraham: Isn't one of the main purposes of asking for salary information so that the school can show the increase in salary? I mean, you can't show the increase in salary unless you know what it was coming in, right?

Jon Fuller: Yes, and I was going to say a lot of it's driven by the ranking organizations that use it as part of their metrics. And so we ask for it because they ask us for it.

Linda Abraham: Right. Okay. Here's a question, I'm getting several questions here on the recommendations. Could you, Rebecca, maybe go through the recommendation process, as I'm getting several questions on this?

Rebecca Dockery: Sure. So, applicants are required to submit a total of three recommendations. One of them is called the "mission support recommendation." Now, that should be from someone who can talk about your commitment to the Consortium's mission. If you're having trouble figuring out who that person should be, I would recommend you write your essay with that similar topic first, because that essay will get you thinking through different examples, as far as what activities or involvement you have that relates to the Consortium mission. So once you have those examples in your head, you can look at those and say, "Okay, while I was doing this, who was there with me?"

Linda Abraham: That's a great suggestion. Very concrete. It's great.

Rebecca Dockery: Thanks. I like it. So those are the people that you should be choosing from to write that particular recommendation. The other recommendation is a professional recommendation, so there are two of those required. And we generally recommend a current supervisor, if you can get that person to fill out your recommendation. If you're in a spot where maybe you don't want to tip them off that you're thinking about leaving or something like that, that's fine, you can use someone else. Just, it should be someone who has a professional relationship with you, so someone who has, obviously, worked with you, knows the quality of your work product, your skills, your experience, your accomplishments, those sorts of things.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you. Jenny writes, "Good evening, I'm a U.S. permanent resident. I got my Bachelor's degree in Lima, Peru. Is this valid to apply to the Consortium? What are the requirements for you to consider a foreign degree and transcript valid in order to apply? Do I need to provide you with a revised and compared GPA equivalent, or is the transcript itself enough? Which translation services are preferred, local or foreign, from the country of origin?"

Rebecca Dockery: That's a whole lot of questions, all rolled into one.

Linda Abraham: The first one is a Bachelor's degree from Lima, Peru, will that be considered?

Rebecca Dockery: Yes. So as a U.S. permanent resident with a Bachelor's degree, you've met the minimum requirement to be eligible to apply. So as far as submitting your transcript with your application, you will need to submit both an original language copy and a translated copy. As far as who does the translation, that's up to you. Some schools offer translation services along with the issuing of the transcript. That's fine, or you can also engage a private translator, either way, it's up to you. Did I miss another part?

Linda Abraham: Do you have a preferred service, like ESC, or WES, or . . .

Rebecca Dockery: Again, that's completely up to the applicant, whatever you have available to you.

Alison Jesse: I'd just like to add one thing to what Rebecca said. It might be helpful to say that we would like to see a literal translation, and not an interpretive translation. In other words, don't try to convert the grades.

Linda Abraham: Wong asks, "What constitutes full-time? If you work both full-time and part-time for the same company, how should we list these on the application form?"

Jon Fuller: Well, to be honest with you, I don't have a copy of the application sitting in front of me, but usually my advice to candidates who ask that kind of question to us specifically is, well, look at the way that the question is phrased, or the prompt is phrased in terms of how we want you to report the work experience. So if it says, you know, "Post-undergraduate full-time work experience," then, again, just like with the previous response of "Don't do a conversion of your grades," I would recommend against doing a conversion of, "Well, if I worked part-time for two years, half-time, that's the equivalent of one year full-time." I wouldn't get into that kind of game. So report the number the way that best matches the way the question prompt is phrased.

What you can do though to try to give yourself credit, at least, for that work experience that you have, is one, that's going to be hopefully listed somewhere on your resume, and depending on how you present it, or how it's able to be presented on your resume, it might be clear to the various admissions committee members as to what that experience actually looks like and what it means towards your candidacy.

The other thing is that this might be a good thing to give a little bit of context to, write a couple of sentences about any optional questions, so, "Is there anything else that you'd like us to know about your candidacy that isn't immediately apparent elsewhere in the application?" You might just want to write a couple of sentences saying, "I have a somewhat unique situation," because I think what you're describing sounds a little unique to me, "that I worked full-time and part-time for the same company, and I wasn't able to capture that numerically when I was reporting the overall quantity of my full-time work experience." So that'd be my stab at giving you some advice.

Linda Abraham: Somebody here writes, "Have you had past students accepted and awarded a fellowship who already have a Master's degree in another field, but are strongly interested in obtaining an MBA? If so, are both undergraduate and graduate transcripts reviewed?"

Rabia Ahmed: Yes, to sort of reiterate how the fellowships are awarded, they're all merit-based, and so the entire application is reviewed holistically, in order for schools to be able to make that decision. And in the holistic application process, both undergraduate, graduate, transcripts and degrees, along with any additional coursework that students have taken, if they've taken extra classes at community colleges or continuing ed programs, we'll certainly look at those grades and those courses as well. And in evaluating just the general academic profile, we'll look at the courses that you took, the institution that you went to, how you did, along with any of the test scores that you take, either the GMAT or the GRE, if it's applicable to you.

Linda Abraham: Great. Elva asks, "What percentage of your students in each of your programs are Consortium students? How does your program help candidates live up to the mission of the Consortium?" The question approximately is, "What percentage of students in each of your programs are Consortium students, and how does your program help candidates live up to the mission of the Consortium?"

Alison Jesse: Okay, I'd like to start with the mission part because I think in terms of the Consortium's mission, we have core values at our particular school, UNC Kenan-Flagler, and I'm sure many of my colleagues can also speak to something similar at their business school. Leadership, integrity, teamwork, excellence, all of these things mirror what the Consortium is all about. I'm not sure if the [person asking is] talking about Consortium as being members of the Consortium, or Consortium as having Consortium fellowship. Those are two different things, but in terms of Consortium members, it's about 7%.

Cindy Jennings Millette: Well, I certainly agree with what Alison said. The culture in business school, definitely being able to kind of give back in that leadership experience and team skills and all that, definitely melds really well with what the Consortium has. And we also have a culture at Berkeley, we have four defining principles, one being, "Beyond Yourself” and “Student Always," and I think both of those really do mirror what the Consortium mission is.

Right now, we have 20 students in each class that are Consortium members, and I do think that what's really great is we see a lot of these people in different roles throughout the leadership on campus, including in our MBA association, so that's someone who's a Vice President of, Admissions, and Student Services, and all of that. And then also in the different clubs, the industry-focused clubs, you just see students being very involved, as we see a lot of our students being involved, and that kind of drive to give back you definitely see throughout the community.

Jon Fuller: So, our MBA class each year is about 500 students, give or take. And this year, we have about 45 Consortium students, and the preceding year I think it was about 40. So not quite 10%, 8 -- 9%, somewhere in that vicinity. So it's a very healthy number, and it's definitely a presence that's well-known and well-regarded on campus, and very similar to what Cindy was saying.

Instead of, and I guess I'm splitting words here a little bit, but saying, "How does your program help candidates?" It's really how do our students help candidates live up to the mission? Because they really hold one another accountable. We have a really strong and connected culture between MBA 1s and MBA 2s, which I won't go so far as to say is unique to Ross, but it always surprises me as to just how well-enmeshed they are with one another.

And so the MBA 2s really take the role, in saying, "Hey, you know, we have this fine tradition here at Ross of not being passive individuals in our MBA experience, and taking on those leadership roles, and really stepping up to the opportunity." And sort of demonstrate the mission by living it, and demonstrating it to others by their actions and the ways that they're involved and the ways that they try to educate their classmates who come from, not just other U.S. backgrounds where they may have had more or less engagement, or opportunity to experience a diverse environment, but also with our international students where you really might have a monolithic culture, which is really kind of the antithesis of what you find here in the United States. So they're not just engaged with the U.S. students, but also, it's a great opportunity to demonstrate that activity or that perspective to our international students as well. So yes. That's my answer.

Rabia Ahmed: Sure, so I think one of the really nice things about the Consortium, in general, is that during OP, as Rebecca mentioned, the entire Consortium family gets to come together, and so you meet not only the students that are going to be in your class, but also in all of the other Consortium schools, and you spend the whole week together. And I think through that, and just being part of that, and knowing that all of these students are agreeing to meet the mission of the Consortium, as a requisite to become a member of the organization, there really is such a strong sense of community among that group and population, and I know a number of our students, the students at Stern always talk about how they met with Consortium students at other schools, and went on ski trips with them or vacations, or met them at case competitions.

So as a student in any of the Consortium schools, there's definitely a great community just among all of us. And that's why we enjoy doing these chats together, and recruiting together on the road, I'm sure all of us can attest to that. But at Stern, I think Cindy also mentioned this with how Haas talks about it, but at Stern, part of our core values really is the idea of a collaborative community, and then also this idea of IQ plus EQ that really enables students to hold each other accountable to what the mission of our school is as it relates to their own personal mission. And the clubs we have on campus, not only do they help build the community, but also bring in other members of the broader Stern community– the second-year students, alumni, undergraduate students–to work on a number of different projects, whether they're service projects, giving back to the community, just broadening the mission of business education across New York City. There really is just a very strong culture of that within our program.

And our alumni are a really big part of that, we have an association of Hispanic and Black business students, which most, if not all, Consortium students are very actively involved in. The alumni group also helps support the community while they're prospective students, current students, and then when they join the broader alumni community. And the last question about the percentage of students, or the number of students on our campus that are part of the Consortium, for Stern, I believe this year, it was 12%. Last year it was 16%, so it definitely varies, but it's definitely a very, very healthy number.

Linda Abraham: Great, thank you. You all gave great answers. Okay, back to the questions. Rachel asks, "If an applicant is applying straight out of college, what are some of the factors the Consortium and the partner schools might look for to determine whether or not he or she is a strong candidate? In other words, how should an applicant compensate for lack of work experience?"

Rebecca Dockery: So in technical terms, you're eligible to apply, yes. So we will accept your application assuming that your Bachelor's degree will be complete, obviously, before you enroll in the MBA program. Beyond that, we aren't the ones that are deciding whether or not you're admitted to school, or whether or not you receive the fellowship. The only two pieces that we're looking at come in that middle decision related to membership in the Consortium. So you can use any type of examples, as far as demonstrating your commitment, they don't necessarily have to be related to a job. They can be community service, or things that you're doing on your particular campus that you're at right now that relate to our mission.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Do any of your programs accept applicants straight out of college? Do you have a minimum work experience requirement?

Rabia Ahmed: We don't have a minimum work experience requirement, and we definitely have students that apply straight out of undergrad. For the most part, the students that we accept that are straight out of undergrad are admitted into one of our dual degree programs, and on average, students have about five years of work experience.

Jon Fuller: Rabia actually gave the same exact answer I was about to give. We're almost a direct facsimile. Same with dual degrees, same with the average amount of work experience. And usually, if there is someone who is very early career, maybe one, maybe two years worth of work experience, for that person to be competitive, you really have to blow it out of the water on every other aspect of the application. Because as it's been mentioned, we do look at applications holistically, but work experience is certainly a very significant element that we leverage when we're making that admissions decision.

And so if there's a big gulf there, you have to compensate in a lot of other different ways, elsewhere in your application. So while I wouldn't want to dissuade the candidate because we do look at every candidate differently, and there definitely isn't a generalization that you can make as to whether or not someone, this particular candidate or this particular person who's asking the question, whether or not she's going to be competitive. So if she feels ready, and she feels that this is the right time for her to apply, then she definitely should. But, apply with an understanding of what the competitive landscape is for admissions, and that we do leverage, or we do take work experience into pretty serious consideration.

Linda Abraham: Cindy and Alison, are you pretty much the same, or do either of you accept early career, or encourage more early career applicants?

Alison Jesse: Actually, I would just have to echo what my colleagues have said. The students who come, or the applicants that are typically accepted without work experience would be our medical students that are coming in through medical school or our law students who are our dual degree program.

Cindy Jennings Millette: I think pretty much ours is the same thing. Normally, people have at least two years of work experience, the average being about five. For the MBA, MPH, or dual degree students, most of the time, they actually have some significant work experience as well, but again, as Jon said, I think there are those people who have stellar work experience who may have a limited number of years, but definitely have that quality that we look for. So it really just depends.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Here we have another question. This is from Jenny. "I haven't had the chance yet to work as I wished towards the mission of the Consortium, but I'm committed to doing so. I have an initial project I'm setting up, and that has a lot to do with the mission. Would the project I have be considered as valid, or does the Consortium only consider projects that are already showing results and have been out on the "market" and accomplished for a while, at this point in time?"

Rebecca Dockery: Yes. You know, this sort of falls under what Linda described earlier in the beginning with a brief summary of qualifications, followed with, "Do I qualify?" In that, it does, quite frankly, because every case is different, and you would have to put together your essay and your recommendation describing that particular arrangement that you're working on, and it would have to go through a larger evaluation process before I could give you a definitive yes or no. But I would have to tell you that, and this applies to every applicant, the onus is on you as the applicant to build your case. So it's your job to convince us that it does fit.

Linda Abraham: Okay. So there's nothing bad that automatically rules it out, but she has to make her case.

Rebecca Dockery: Right. You know, there's not a checklist of activities you have to engage in or organizations that you have to join. You really have to take and interpret the mission and apply it to what you've been doing, or sort of show how what you've been doing fits into that mission as a whole.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. And I have a couple of questions about recommendations. Adrianna asks, "One of the Consortium colleagues told me the Consortium recommendation can be written by a friend/roommate who knows you well and your personal commitments to diversity etc. Is that acceptable? The reason I ask is because the person who can best speak to that aspect of me is a close friend."

Rebecca Dockery: Yes, the mission recommendation is a lot more flexible than the professional recommendation. Obviously with the professional side, you need somebody who has a very specific professional relationship with you, that sort of thing. But the mission one is much more flexible. So like I described earlier, you should think through your particular examples. Maybe write your essay about your commitment and look through those examples, and once you have those examples in your head, those people that were there with you while you were doing those things are the people that you should be choosing from, as far as writing that particular essay. So it doesn't have to be someone in a supervisory role or anything like that. It can be, like you mentioned, a friend, or a colleague that you worked with. It's a lot more flexible, so you have a lot more room to wiggle, as far as who writes that particular essay.

But regardless of who you choose, I would definitely recommend that you spend some time prepping your recommender. This actually applies to the professional recommendations as well. Make sure that you're sitting down with the recommender, telling them what it is that you're trying to accomplish, and what the purpose of this particular recommendation is, and sort of put some information together for them. Especially with the mission, because it's a little bit different than a traditional recommendation. Make sure they understand the type of information that we're looking for, so that they know the type of information that they should be communicating to us.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Shiran asks, "Can your mission recommender be the same as one of your professional recommenders?"

Rebecca Dockery: Yes. Okay. So there are no specific rules one way or the other on that one. It is, again, your decision if you want to do that. But if you do that, you absolutely have to make sure that you are prepping that person fully and completely, because that person has to understand the difference between the two forms. They have to understand that the information being sought on the professional recommendation is completely different than the information that's being sought on the mission recommendation.

So the worst thing that that person can do is give generic responses, or copy and paste their responses from one onto the other because that will do you absolutely no good. So make sure that you do your due diligence and prep that person thoroughly to make sure they're putting the right things in the right places.

Linda Abraham: Okay, that's pretty clear. Carlos asks, "I will be writing the optional essay, but I only need three sentences to shed light on my situation. Will that be sufficient?"

Rabia Ahmed: Sure, so the optional essay really is optional, and I think you should only use it if you do have just additional information or clarifying information that you'd like to provide. I've seen additional or optional essays that are literally just bullet point explanations of clarifications, things that they need to clarify, or to explain gaps in your resume. We do not need, nor expect, nor appreciate wanting to read another essay. We read plenty of essays, and so if you don't need to put an essay through, don't feel like you have to write an entire essay in prose. You're definitely welcome to just send in bullets explaining whatever it is that you're looking to clarify.

Jon Fuller: Essay is really a misnomer. Yes, everybody always refers to it that way and always talks about it as the "optional essay," and so people think, 'Okay, well, I have to write 500 words about, you know, a topic that, just like the candidate said, "I could explain probably in three sentences." Then, by all means, use three sentences. Less can be more in this kind of situation.

Linda Abraham: You won't miss the 500 words in place of three sentences?

Jon Fuller: No. No, I will not. My eye strain won't either.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Sarah asks, and this might come under the rubric of things that you can't answer unless you have the whole application in front of you, but Sarah asks, "What about if you work with non-American targeted groups in other countries? In other words, the Hispanic population in Cuba, for example?"

Rebecca Dockery: Again, it's up to you as the applicant to write about whatever it is in your life that you feel like applies to that particular mission, but let me be clear when I tell you that that mission is directly related to three target communities: African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Native Americans. So take that bit of information and interpret it as you will.

Linda Abraham: All right. That's pretty clear. Shirane asks, "If you have applied to Consortium in the past, is there any preference with your application versus someone who is applying for the first time?" Rebecca, do you want to reply from the Consortium's perspective, and then we can ask the admissions directors for their specific school's perspective.

Rebecca Dockery: From our side, it's actually fairly easy as far as the logistics of the application are concerned. If you've applied within the last two years, there are a couple of items that you can reuse if you want to: your transcript, your test scores if they haven't expired, and your recommendations. So if you decide that you want to reuse any of those items, just shoot us an email to recruiting@cgsm.org, and we'll get them moved over to your new application, but as far as, again, things related to admission or fellowship are concerned, I'll have to defer to my colleagues.

Alison Jesse: So, addressing the question of if they've applied before and now are a re-applicant, one thing that we do–not every school does–is that we give feedback to students that may have applied and not been successful the first time. Again, we don't give preference, but rather we look at it objectively and look at new information in the application that is submitted the second time.

Cindy Jennings Millette: One thing I would say, we do give feedback as well, I think that looking at what the individual has done to increase their competitiveness of their application, like how they have made progress in addressing some of the weaknesses that we may talk about in the feedback call. So I think that is one thing that we will look at, in comparison to someone who reapplies. It's not preferential treatment by any means, but it's looking at what kinds of things have significantly changed since they applied the time before. So we are going to be looking for that, and do take into account if someone has really shown progression or been able to address some of the weaknesses that may have happened the first time when they weren't accepted.

Jon Fuller: I think about the phrasing of the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So you can take that piece of advice, if that's advice. Yes, it's doing that self-assessment and saying between asking for feedback from individual schools, and then also doing the self-assessment and saying, "Okay, I wasn't successful my first time around, what are some of the deficits that I might have had?" And then doing what you can to address those. You might find that it's work experience. You might find that it's your academics, so maybe retaking the GMAT, or taking an outside class, or any number of those things.

And ask those questions when you're able to get feedback from schools because we oftentimes will be direct and say, "Well, you know, we'd like you to be successful in this process, and so here's some things that you might be able to address within your application that we would smile upon when looking at your application the next time around."

But each cycle is different. We do find a lot of consistency in our applicant pools overall, but every cycle is a little different. So just because you might have been waitlisted or denied in a previous cycle doesn't mean that you're destined to have the same exact outcome the next time around. So, yes, that's it.

Rabia Ahmed: I think my colleagues here did a really nice job summarizing it. We do not give feedback to our applicants, but we do just exactly as Jon and Cindy and Alison have said, we review both applications, the previous and the current one together, and we're specifically looking for changes and updates. We're looking for a slightly different application.

So it's important to really be reflective in the process, and as Jon mentioned, we really want you to be successful. We want you to come to our schools and do well. And so part of it is really, being very self-aware, to see, "Was this the right time for me to apply, and what can I do to put together a more competitive application this year?"

And the last thing I will say is reapplying shows your commitment to the program as well, so it shows us that this person applied last year, two years ago, and is still interested in our program. And so we'd love to see what else you've done to get to know our program, and how you are presenting yourself as a more competitive applicant this year.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you all. I also just want to share this, there are lots and lots of thank you's coming in after every single response. So your time and responses are very much appreciated. Monique writes, "Good evening. After graduating from B-school and relocating to a new city, are there organized chapters for alumni to access the Consortium network? Thank you for your time."

Rebecca Dockery: There definitely are, and we have a little over 20 alumni chapters. We also have a feature, something called CGSM Online, which is this really cool online database that all of our students and alumni have access to. And it has a fun feature, and it's called the Directory, so it's a directory that allows you to actually go in and search for other alumni, or even companies if you are looking for a job opportunity. So if you want to go in there and search for other people in the Consortium, in this particular city, or if you want to look for somebody who's at a particular company, anything like that, you can use this directory. It's actually pretty cool, there's a lot of different ways you can search, and a lot of things you can come up with. So there's definitely that particular resource. We also have groups on Facebook and on LinkedIn and also other ways that you can make connections as well. And I would assume most of the schools have alumni chapters in most cities as well, most major cities.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Carlos asks, "I went to a commuter school for undergrad, and I worked full-time as a mentor during my undergrad. Will that be considered full-time experience?" I'm assuming it was a paid position, but he didn't specify that.

Rebecca Dockery: Again, I'm not the one evaluating your work experience, as far as profession is concerned, so I'll defer on that.

Rabia Ahmed: Yes, so for us, the work experience that we look for is generally, we look at it regardless of when it was done. But when calculating it, I think we definitely look at it after undergrad. So any full-time work experience you've had since graduating from undergrad is what we consider full-time work experience. If you did work while you were in undergrad, we'll look at that experience as well.

Linda Abraham: Theresa asks, "If an applicant is currently employed in the military, with more than ten years work experience, but only recently completed an undergraduate degree, will that candidate still be considered a strong candidate?" Again, I think that probably might fall a little under the rubric that I said we didn't want to discuss when I started. But I think coming from the military probably is a little bit different, and it also relates a little bit, I think, to the point that Rabia just made about work experience "counting" if it occurred before or after one earned the college degree, the Bachelor's degree.

Rabia Ahmed: Absolutely, military experience is work experience.

Linda Abraham: Even if it occurred while they were getting their Bachelors?

Rabia Ahmed: You mean if they were in the Reserves? Yes, we will look at that as work experience.

Jon Fuller: Yes, I would say that those are right on the money list with what we look at too. The other things that we might oftentimes, we had questions from people who have done missionary experience either before they went to undergrad or concurrently with undergrad. Again, mission experience might mean different things, but oftentimes, it can take on the role of a full-time job as well.

So again, I guess the main thing on the part of the candidate is try not to make assumptions, in terms of how we're going to interpret that information, or that we're going to notice that on our own. So again, if they're in that optional, not really an essay, essay, you might want to make a brief comment there to provide a little bit of context as to how or why that information is presenting itself the way it is.

Linda Abraham: Michael asks the question, "Is there such a thing as too much work experience and too old for a career switcher? I know it's not too old, but is there such a thing as too much experience?"

Alison Jesse: I'll just start with my answer to that. I think that schools are really looking at the quality of your work experience. There could be someone who has four years of work experience that has had more progression than perhaps someone with ten years of experience. I think the concern would be, if there's any concern, how an employer is going to feel about that on the other end. We want to be sure that when we admit you that we are able to help you get to where you want to go. So that will be part of our evaluation process in committee, and we actually have members of our crew managing staff that help us when we are making admissions decisions.

Cindy Jennings Millette: Yes, I agree entirely. I think one thing to note is in all these questions that have just come up, is that it never really is about the quantity or the number of years of work experience, but it's really about the quality of that experience. So even with the military, even though it's not considered post-university, it's not after you've had your undergraduate degree, but it's still considered really valid experience. So when we look at applications, it's not just about looking at the numbers and looking at the number of years of work experience, whether it's more than the average or less than the average, it's really about quality of that experience. And that can vary in whether it's a small amount or a large amount, it doesn't really matter; it's really about that quality.

Linda Abraham: I just actually, today, recorded a webinar for GMAT club on choosing business schools, and one of the big points that I made is that applicants tend to focus very much on the quantity of work experience and not the quality. And both elements are important. So, I'm going to guess that quality may actually be more important than quantity. And you're welcome to disagree with me, obviously, I'm talking now to the admissions directors, but that was one of the big points I made, is it's not just about the numbers. MBA applicants tend to be very numbers-oriented, you know, all the stats, all of that stuff, and there is that qualitative element that sometimes is given short shrift, I think.

Adrianna asks, 'Under the employment section of the application, what if my job function doesn't fit into any of the ones in the drop-down menu? I'm a fundraiser grant writer, and it's not any of the choices."

Rebecca Dockery: In that case, either look for something that is as close to that as possible. I don't have the list in front of me in this point in time, so unfortunately that's just something that I don't have memorized. If you want to talk more directly about it, you can always give me a call tomorrow in the office, and we'll come up with a better plan for you.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Strinoff asks, "I am planning to write my GMAT in the third week of December. If I am late, can I send my unofficial GMAT score report and TOEFL?" I guess if he takes it in the third week of December, he won't be late. I'm a little confused with the question. But before the application deadline. And again, I'm not entirely clear here on what's going on. The question is, is the unofficial score report adequate?

Rebecca Dockery: It can serve as a temporary placeholder, but the official one still does have to be turned in.

Linda Abraham: Right. By what deadline?

Rebecca Dockery: In theory by the application deadline. We recommend basically taking the GMAT or the GRE by November 1st, to meet the November 15th deadline, and our recommended date for the January deadline is to take it on or around December 15th.

Linda Abraham: So he's a couple of days late. Two days late. Okay, well, that's the information. Elva asks, "Is there a process for applying as a couple, husband as wife? How do your schools approach this sort of situation?"

Jon Fuller: That's a tough one. Well, I guess the answer, which feels a little brusque almost, is you're going to have to stand on your own two feet. We're more than likely through the process going to be aware that you're applying with a significant other or with a partner. But at the end of the day, we have to be confident that you're both, one or the other, both of you are going to be able to perform well in pretty rigorous programs. And so hopefully you're both competitive applicants, and that you're both applying together, but I don't think it's like a two-for-one deal, or anything like that, or that we would go on the record saying, "Well, if one of you is a total rock star, and the other one is like okay, that we're willing to overlook the okay aspect." We're not going to say that.

I don't know if that was the reassurance that the couple wants, but again, hopefully you're both good candidates, and that you both also land in the same schools aligned with both of your aims and aspirations, and wishes, and fit, and that sort of thing. So I admire that, if that's the case, I know my wife would probably not be interested in going to the kind of business school that I'd be interested in going to, or at all. But anyway, yes, that's my not very good answer to that.

Rabia Ahmed: I completely agree with everything that Jon said, and for Stern, in our, the certain supplement piece, we ask that you indicate that on that page. We just want to make sure that if we are going to be inviting both of you to interview that you're invited around the same time, so that if you're free to travel together, that you could travel together. So it just makes some of the processing easier, but Jon's absolutely right. It's not like we're going to accept both or reject both, type situation. Each applicant is evaluated as an applicant, and not as a couple or as brother, sister, or sister, sister, or siblings, or anything like that.

Cindy Jennings Millette: I agree with everything that was said. I think being able to note it is a good idea, and we also encourage that, but in the end, it's really each candidate is going to be looked at separately.

Alison Jesse: Yes, exactly the same.

Linda Abraham: Wonderful. Okay. I think we probably have time for one more question, let me see what's here. Okay, Carlos asks, "With finals in December, is there a strict deadline of November when visiting schools and scheduling the interviews with admissions?

Alison Jesse: Gosh. Ours is probably a little different from other schools. So as soon as someone starts a Consortium application, we send them the login that they can go ahead and interview. We probably have a little bit of wiggle room with December, past that, but not too much past that.

Cindy Jennings Millette: We send invites just like we do in the regular UC Berkeley applications, so we invite by invitation only. So we will be rolling out interview invitations starting from about four weeks from the deadline up until the notification deadline.

Jon Fuller: We actually consolidate the two rounds of applications, so if you apply for the November 15th deadline or the January 5th deadline, you'll be evaluated as if you had applied in Round 2. And we invite people in waves, so if you happen to find yourself in the first wave of interview invitations, you have about three or four weeks with which to schedule your interview, on-campus or off-campus. And then if you're invited in the second wave a couple of weeks later, then the same holds true, and you'll have about three or four weeks of time to schedule your interview. And again, it's at a location and time that's convenient for you and your schedule.

Rabia Ahmed: Our process is similar to Berkeley's process. We will start sending out invitations to interview after we've received the applications, and they're rolling invites up until the notification deadline. And we do review the applications by application deadline, and we start reviewing them after the deadline has passed, so we won't be sending out any interview invitations until after we've reviewed the applications after November 15th and after January 5th.

Linda Abraham: Great. All right, and I had just one more question, which I think will be a real quickie. Ari submitted this via email ahead of time. "Is it possible to apply as a part-time MBA for certain programs for certain schools. For instance, I plan to apply UCLA and USC as a part-time MBA applicant. If so, than would I have to apply to them separately outside of the Consortium?"

Rebecca Dockery: Yes. We do not work with the part-time programs at any of our member schools. Our application is only for the full-time, two-year programs at all 17 of our schools, or, potentially, the one-year, full-time programs at Emory University and the University of Rochester. So essentially, you have 19 choices across our 17 programs.

Linda Abraham: What about Cornell's accelerated program?

Rebecca Dockery: No.

Linda Abraham: Okay, I want to thank you all very, very much for answering all of these questions. Again, I'm getting lots of thank you's coming in. They're coming in to me, but they really belong to you, and they've been coming in throughout the Q&A, the chat.

So I want to thank the applicants for sharing their questions and concerns, and I want to give a special thanks to Rebecca, to Jon, Rabia, and Cindy and Alison, for joining us this evening. It's not that early. It's well after your work day, and it was really, pretty nice and very much appreciated, that you could be here.

If you have additional questions for the Consortium team, please 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. And at this point, again, thank you so much for coming, and best of luck with your application.

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