2013 Kellogg MBA Admissions Q&A with Kate Smith

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2013 Kellogg MBA Admissions Q&A with Kate Smith

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Linda Abraham: Hello, my name is Linda Abraham. I'm the Founder of Accepted.com and the moderator of today's chat. First of all, I want to welcome all applicants to the chat today, and I want to offer a special welcome to Kate Smith, the Assistant Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Kellogg, and I want to thank all the applicants who are here today.

I'm going to take advantage of my position as moderator and ask the first question, which is, Kate, what's new at Kellogg?

Kate Smith: Well, thank you for having me today. I'm excited to be here and to start by telling you what's new. It's an exciting time at Kellogg right now. Actually, just to give a little perspective, I myself am an alum of Kellogg. I attended the full-time program here, graduated in 1998 and after a career in marketing, thought that this is just such a vibrant time for the school and was very excited about the future direction that our Dean Sally Blount has been laying out for the school.

And so, some of the new elements that I can share from an admissions perspective, we have concluded year-on-year for our full-time program. We have four different programs at Kellogg and, in total, have welcomed this fall, our new class of students, which is about 650 students across our four programs inclusive of our two-year program, our one-year program. We have two dual-degree programs, a JD-MBA and MMM program, and they are enjoying the start of their academic pursuits this fall.

We are very pleased to report that our class of 2012 that graduated this summer, 96% of our full-time students have received job offers within the three months of their graduations. So we continue to see high employment rates and success for our students as they're following their pursuits post-Kellogg.

Some of the unique things to this year's class that were of interest for us was we've seen an increase in growth of our one-year program, in terms of interest in that program. We were up about 6% in applications last year and, therefore, we saw the quality of student profiles to be so strong that we actually increased the program by about 15 students this year from 86 students to 100, so about a 14-student increase. Across the entire four programs, we have a great group of students of wide diversity with 48 countries represented in this year's class. So it's a dynamic and fun time for us to have our students here and just see some of that interesting growth and development in one line.

Then, some other accomplishments on the school level, our Dean, Dean Blount, has laid out a strategic plan that we unveiled this spring that you can actually go explore if you want to learn more about it. It's called Envision Kellogg and we have a website, www.envisionKellogg.com that goes into more depth on that strategic plan. But we have been working across the school to begin to act upon some new opportunities that we've laid out strategically, and as well as we have announced that we will be building a new building for the school. Unfortunately, it's not going to be ready for a couple more years. We haven't broken ground yet, but our Dean has actually broken records and set fundraising records towards our objectives, both increasing our facilities and capabilities of the school by building a world-class, new facility. So there's a lot of energy and excitement going on here across the board.

Linda Abraham: That's great. Now, we have a lot of questions coming in and before I actually turn to the applicants' questions, I have a question of my own that I want to ask. Kate and I are curious about where you are at in the application process. Have you already applied? Are you planning to apply round two? Are you planning to apply round three, doing research for next year, or simply not sure? Great, 14% already applied. 59% are planning to apply round two. 9% are planning to apply round three and 18% are doing research for next year, and none of you are unsure.

Now to your questions. Igor asks, "How do you see a career shift from a marketing position to strategic consulting? How will Kellogg help me to make that shift?"

Kate Smith: That's a great question. We see a large number of students who are very interested in pursuing a change in their career direction. So that is not an uncommon question for us to see among our students, and it's something that we certainly appreciate and understand. So the host of opportunities that you can experience at Kellogg that are going to help you achieve that goal are, first and foremost, the education itself. I mean, we have very rigorous academic curriculum that helps prepare all of our students in terms of the breadth of business principles across core–we have a core curriculum and a great number of electives that our students can choose to take, which many of our students actually end up selecting two or three majors in their time here at the University.

So if you're interested in making that shift, you can study from some of the best professors around the world, who are part of our esteemed faculty here, as to cutting-edge, strategic-focused coursework. There are opportunities for experiential learning here where you can actually work in courses. You can select courses that are going to allow you to actually engage with firms out in the real world and work as a consultant against business issues and initiatives that they have, while you're here as a student. So you're gaining real-world experience in the field of interest that you may be interested in pursuing.

From there, we have, what we are very proud of, is our best-in-class Career Services and Career Management Center, which is an extensive group of Kellogg team members who are dedicated to helping our students on whatever goals or pursuits they have for their career. We have experts across all industries. We have a whole host of services that the Career Management Center provides inclusive of when you arrive at Kellogg you are first able to do a self-assessment, a leadership skills assessment. You're able to map against what are the opportunities or areas I might need to work on. We have resume workshops and mock interviews that they will conduct to help prepare you. If you're interested in going into consulting, as your question posed, there are lots of services to help you prepare for the more traditional case methodology of a consulting interview.

One of the things we're really proud of at Kellogg is we find that we have, among our peer group, the largest number of consulting firms come and recruit here, and a large percent of our students go into that industry. There are lots of opportunities across a whole range of types of consulting firms from some of the more larger scale firms to the more boutique consulting firms.

Between the combination of your education, opportunity to learn and get hands-on practice in the area of interest that you're focused on, paired with the services of the Career Management Center to help you on your journey, the entire process of being here as a student is designed at helping you work toward that goal and achieve that goal. If yours is one of changing careers, we are certainly supportive and very much designed to help enable that goal.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you very much. Ben asks, "What distinguishes Kellogg from its tier 1 peers such as Harvard, Stanford, Wharton and Chicago?”

Kate Smith: Sure. Sure. Well, I can say is that if you're looking at a top-tier program, you're going to have great options across the board, but what is really important for you to do your homework on is to understand where you think the program is going to best match your goals, needs, and who you are. I think at Kellogg what we pride ourselves on, and I truly feel is a very distinguishing feature for us is our focus on the student experience and that it is truly unmatched in our peer group. We have, historically, always been engaged on maximizing the experience for students. The way that that's evidenced is across the board we have–Dean Ziegler, her title is actually Dean of Students and her job is solely focused on mapping the student experience and maximizing that, in partnership with our students.

One of the things that distinguishes Kellogg is we have a history and a culture of kind of what we call "co-creation" and collaboration at the core of what we do. So that co-creation with students is something where students here are involved in every facet of the direction of the Kellogg School. They are engaged with us in leadership positions, on our student leadership teams, in creating the conferences that we host annually, and inviting some of our prestigious alumni and business and thought and industry leaders. So the student experience is something that we are very focused on in terms of helping enable your personal development and growth.

The way that that manifests itself–another thing that I think is a distinguishing feature for Kellogg, is that culture is our strong suit. If you look at our students, they're known for being very grounded. They have a spirit of boldness, innovation, a passion for collaboration.

We have a history. We sort of put the idea of working in teams on the B-school map and the way that we approach that was that we identified that when you come into an MBA program, in one or two or three years, depending on which degree path you're pursuing–because we have a dual degree JD MBA program that you can complete in three years, but our full-time options of our one-year program or our two-year program–whichever pathway you choose, we want you to be equipped to go out and, basically, be ready to lead in whatever career pursuit that you are following. So what that represents is the ability to work with others in an environment where the experience that you have here is replicated as what you're going to experience out in the workplace. And I think that that's focused on team skills and collaboration in and outside the classroom is another distinguishing feature.

Another element that we are proud of is our global community and that we have a highly diverse international student body with powerful alums all over the world. Our network, our alumni network, is 54,000 strong and growing every year and, as I mentioned earlier, we have 48 countries represented in this year's class. I think those are some of the features of our program and sort of the cornerstone that I mentioned earlier is our academic faculty being world-renowned and best-in-class in many different areas of focus, so across our nonprofit sector, our public and private interface, obviously strategy. We're well known for marketing. We have exceptional finance professors. So across the board, I think those are some of the features that really set Kellogg apart.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you very much for that very thorough answer. Another question here from Personal. "Can Kate speak something about the MMM program in Kellogg? What is the duration and how is it different from the two-year or the one-year MBA? What does the class profile look like and what are the job prospects after completing the MMM degree?"

Kate Smith: Sure. Sure. We call it affectionately our "Triple M" program. It is a dual degree program with the McCormick School of Engineering here at Northwestern. So in two years, you graduate with an MBA from Kellogg and the Masters of Engineering Management from the McCormick School of Engineering. What's unique about it, you know, I'll talk a little bit about the profile of the class. Compared to our two-year program, to give you all some sense of size, our one-year program this year was 100 students. Our two-year program was about 476. Our MMM program is typically about 60 students, and our JD-MBA is about 28. So that gives you a sense of the size.

Linda Abraham: And what does the Triple M stand for? I'm just curious.

Kate Smith: Masters of Management and Manufacturing and that dual degree, Management and Manufacturing. But it's been named that for a long time. I feel it's better if you were able to dig in and understand that it's that dual degree from the two programs, and in a minute, I can comment in more depth on what it provides for you.

In terms of the class profile, by having about 60 students, what happens is you actually have a little bit of a cohort feel with your colleagues in the MMM program. At Kellogg, each of our students is grouped into a cohort when they start at school, and you start on that journey. And your curriculum in the MMM program has unique course work offered from the McCormick school, as well as the core coursework from the Kellogg MBA.

So in terms of the experience and what you can study, there's some cornerstones of innovation and design-centered thinking that are integrated into that curriculum, and the types of people who we find that gravitate to that program, we often see undergraduate students who've studied engineering in undergraduate and are interested in continuing on past where they might want to enhance that degree and pursue opportunities at firms that have, potentially, different leadership tracks in that space. But we also see a lot of who are interested in this innovation and design-centered thinking space, so folks who might be interested in working at organizations that have an innovation ethos to them.

What we find is that the opportunities for our MMM majors are completely the same as any of our one-year or two-year degree graduates because the firms that come are coming to recruit Kellogg MBAs, and you have a Kellogg MBA by being in that program, but you have the advantage of having a second degree, a little more tailored understanding into some of the spaces like we talked about, innovation, consulting. You'll see folks in those pathways. I mentioned the engineering, which could lead you down a manufacturing or other types of organizations but, really, our students come out of MMM and go into all industries, pretty comparable to the one-year or two-year population graduates as well.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you. Thank you very much for the introduction to the MMM program. We have a couple of questions here about the GMAT, the GRE. First, I kind of want to see, again, where our audience is that, in terms of the test. So, I'm going to ask who is taking the GRE or GMAT and are happy with your scores, if you took it and are unhappy and planning to retake or if you're studying now for your first exam. I believe Kellogg accepts both exams. Is that correct, Kate?

Kate Smith: That is correct, Linda.

Linda Abraham: Great. Okay. So, with 75% responding, 46% have taken the exam, whichever one, and are happy with the score. 17% took it and are unhappy and are planning to retake, which I think is pretty standard. I think 20% of GMATs are retakes and 38% are studying now for the first administration. So, those are the statistics and that's pretty typical if I do ask this question of the responses that I get.

So, the questions from the audience about the GMAT are, first of all, "Are applicants with a GMAT score at an advantage over those who took the GRE?" That's number one. Then, we have another question about competitive GMAT scores. "What is a competitive GMAT score?" Then, specifically, from Jennifer, "What is a competitive Quant GMAT score?" Or Quant percentile and probably would relate to the percentile on the GRE too. So, Kate?

Kate Smith: Sure. Well, first, I want to congratulate any of you who've taken it and are happy with your score. Congratulations. I feel for those who are studying to take it because I remember it very distinctly myself, and it was a long time ago. It is probably one of the least favorite parts of the journey towards pursuing your MBA, but, first of all, there is no benefit to taking a GRE or a GMAT. We accept both and, truly, in my mind, taking a step back, as we look at students who apply, we take a holistic approach to selecting our applicants.

So the test score is just one of many, many different attributes and components that we are evaluating, and it's a real easy thing for many students to sort of anchor on because it's something that you control, in terms of the outcome of how you score on the test, and it's something that you can impact now as you're taking it. So, I just do want to take a moment to say that here at Kellogg, one of the things we're really proud of is the fact that we seek to get to know our prospective student applicants on a 360 holistic approach, and we seek to interview every applicant at Kellogg, which is another distinguishing feature of what we do, so just to give everybody an understanding that it is one of many components that we look at.

From there, I do not comment on specific “what makes a strong score?” because, as I mentioned, it is taken in consideration with all of the attributes of the applicant, your work experience, the progress you've made in your career, what your undergraduate studies included in the kinds of things in different areas that you've been involved in. So, I won't comment specifically as to what makes a score. I can tell you that our average GMAT score last year was about a 708 score, but that means that's the average. That means that there were students across the range much higher and ranging lower than that.

One of the things that I always say is if you think you can do better, and you have the means to do so, the time, the resources, whatever that may be, feel free because that is one of the things you can control now, and it's only enhancing that particular attribute of your application. But it is all about you balancing what you can accomplish and what you need to do with your work and life, and wherever you are on your journey to applying to a business school.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Great. And I think another way to look in terms of competitive scores, I don’t know if it’s on your website. It certainly is on BusinessWeek’s site is the 80% range for the GMAT score, in terms of what–I realize it's not all about the GMAT, but that does give applicants a sense of, not just the average, but how far away from the average people can be and still get in with and have a reasonable chance of acceptance.

Kate Smith: Yes. That's right. We do include our GMAT distribution in our website and our facts and figures as well. So, I can tell you to go deeper if it's helpful. You know, last year, 6% were less than a 640, 17% were between a 750 and 800, 51% were between the 700 and 740, and 25% were between 650 and 690.

Linda Abraham: Wow. You have those figures at your fingertips. That's pretty good. All right. Anand asks, "What kinds of hands-on learning opportunities Kellogg can provide for its students?" And you mentioned consulting projects earlier and somebody else asked about tracks and things like that. Can you go into that for a bit?

Kate Smith: Sure. I'll go a little bit deeper. So, we have a very broad array of what we call "experiential learning opportunities" here at Kellogg and they fall into quite a few different buckets. So, one is, within the coursework. We have opportunities across the board where we have all sorts of different–we call them labs. We have a global lab. We have a venture lab. We have all kinds of different opportunities for students to, as I mentioned earlier, if you want to gain skills in a particular industry, area or country because when I said global labs, some of these are experiential learning that you're going to have with a company outside the US.

So we have over 1,000 of those opportunities each year because the beauty of us having this program for as many years as we have, is that companies are thrilled to come to Kellogg and have Kellogg students consult for issues and projects that they have at their firms. And the way that we engage with them is they present a business opportunity to Kellogg that students can self-select and say, "I would like to study and work on that project." Then, a student team is formed and it is a core course or it's a course not in the core curriculum. It's a course that you take towards your total credits, where you actually work on the business challenge as a "consultant" but it could be on a market research problem. It could be in any industry or it could be in healthcare. Many of our HEMA students, which is our healthcare-focused degree, have opportunities.

So depending on your area of interest, you are able to, over the course of a quarter, work with your classmates in an experiential learning lab, where the end of the project culminates with you actually going to the firm, and with some of them being global, you will actually travel to another country and present to the senior leadership of the firm or company that has presented that project, so some of those in the nonprofit sector as well. As you come away with that experience, you now have had hands-on experience that you can apply, whether it be whatever industry you're looking to move into, you have very tangible experience and results that you can point to as you're working towards your ultimate career goal.

In addition to the experiential learning labs, we also have lots of leadership opportunities available to our students in multifaceted arenas of areas of involvement. I think I mentioned, briefly, earlier, for example, all of our conferences are student-led. We host an annual technology conference, an annual marketing conference, and Africa business conference, etc.

So a whole range of conferences, which you can find information on our website to go deeper into that, but those are student-led. The entire conference is organized by students and it allows you to–again, there's another pathway for you to engage in leadership opportunities and engagement in an area of interest, where you are bringing in industry and business thought leaders to Kellogg and hosting. You know, I think our marketing conference hosted 600 people last year. So this is a very large undertaking and a great, another sort of hands-on leadership and learning opportunity.

Treks, as was mentioned by you, Linda, is another great way for students to learn more and engage with the industries that they're interested in. We have Treks in all different industries, going to different markets. For students who might be interested in going to San Francisco and working in Silicon Valley, we have a technology related Trek that goes there. We have a finance-based Trek that goes to New York. We have Treks to other countries as well, in some limited circumstances, as to what industry or focus you might be in. Those Treks allow you to engage with the organizations and the business leaders in the market they’re in and help you in the process, one, learning the industry better and, two, starting to make contacts and building out your own network, to understand what career opportunities there may be for you as you are leaving Kellogg. So, I think, those are some of the highlights.

I would love to just draw attention to our global health initiative in Kellogg Core, another great area of emphasis where some of our students are looking to get involved in ways where you can make a major difference in Third World and developing countries, where there is great need. Kellogg Core is sort of a condensed period of time where you go and are on the ground, working in partnership with organizations, usually philanthropic-minded organizations, figuring out how you can impact and help people. So, there have been things like water enhancement in treatment in Africa, different experiences across the globe that our students have engaged in. So those are just some of the different opportunities for you as you're looking at what kind of experiences can you gain here that I think are pretty unique as you're looking at your MBA choices.

Linda Abraham: Great answer. Thank you. We have a couple of questions regarding interviews. The first one is from Ben, who says he knows that the round two off-campus interview deadline has passed, only the on-campus interview deadline remains. "I would like to apply, but live overseas at this point. Is there any way to apply and request and off-campus interview? In other words, are exceptions ever made?"

Kate Smith: It's rare for us to make exceptions. The deadlines are there because of the sheer volume of applications and the process that we undergo is, when you're doing and off-campus interview, we are seeking to match you with an alumni in the region you're in, or the market area that you're in. So that process is why we have those deadlines. I like to say that it's very rare and uncommon for us to make that exception. If there was an extenuating circumstance, I'd be happy to have you email that in to our MBA admissions email, which is posted on our website and we certainly could look at that.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Then, the second related question is from Victor. "If I already requested and off-campus interview, when should I be hearing from you? How do you decide to waive an interview? What info are you looking for to get in an interview?" Good question. Three points. He's requested, I assume, before the deadline. When should he expect to hear from you? How do you decide whether to waive an interview or not? What are you looking for an interview? How do you use the interview?

Kate Smith: Great questions. So the expectation to hear from us is typically about a three-week window from when we have a deadline request and then start to match–so the process is to just put transparency behind it. Because we're seeking to interview every applicant, the process is a broad matching game of the thousands of applicants that we have in the regions that they're in. We have to identify how many applicants do we have in a region, how many alumni interviewers have availability and then do the matching process for them.

That is what the time lag is driven by, the fact that we are actually going through you've requested an interview in Jakarta, what alum do we have in Jakarta to pair you with? And then facilitating the connection between the two of you and that can take a couple of weeks, given the timing of working through that information. So you would expect to hear within a couple of weeks and then you would have your alumni interviewer reach out to you and you guys would schedule your interview in the region that you're in.

If you're coming to Kellogg, on campus, it is a little more straightforward because that deadline is paired with our round two deadline, which is upcoming. It's January 3. Then, you would call and/or email, and we would basically assign you a timeslot for your interview when you can be here on campus. So that is the expectation.

From a waive standpoint, waiving an interview is typically due to extenuating circumstances. There may be an issue with supply and demand of matching. It's usually related to those that are in markets where if we just get to a point where there is not the ability to match you with an interviewer in that region, that would be what might lead to a waive, but as I said, we're seeking to interview every applicant that we can.

Then, what we're looking for in an interview is really to get to know who you are. I mean, that is what we're proud of as part of our approach to this is that we are, I think, the only top-tier school that does seek to interview every applicant because we believe that who you are is going to come across much more authentically, transparently. We're going to know you by meeting you and it brings to life what I call your two-dimensional applications as the three-dimensional you. It allows you to present who you are, what your motivations are.

So what we're looking for. Why are you interested in coming to Kellogg and pursuing your MBA? What are your career goals and aspirations? What are you seeking to accomplish? What do you bring to the Kellogg community, from your work experience, your outside of work experience, all of the collective experiences that you've gained and qualities and attributes of who you are? What do you have to add to the Kellogg community? We have a whole range of attributes that we are looking to understand, and if you come prepared to have a conversation and engage with us as to why you're interested in attending Kellogg and being a part of our community, those are the kinds of things that we'll be looking to have a conversation with you about.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you very much. Okay. Lester asks, "Could you elaborate on what activities are ongoing for collaboration and networking among students outside the classroom? I know there's a ton, right?

Kate Smith: Oh. Absolutely. It's actually a big part of our, what I call the "Kellogg DNA." At Kellogg, what we talked about the student experience being, in our opinion, second to none. I think the really interesting element of being a Kellogg student is, every year, we talk to our students and we get feedback from them as they're going through their first year or second year, etc., and we asked them last year to talk about the value of all the in classroom experience and the out of classroom and may actually weighted the two equal, and I think that is because our in classroom is so exceptional that it's of great value, but our out of classroom is equally engaging and enriching to our student's experience.

What that includes, is we have over 120 student-led clubs and organizations. I talked about the conferences earlier, in both academic-related, industry-focused, hobbies, ethnic and cultural interests, student leadership, professional development, any of those areas, you can become an engaged student in those organizations and as many as you can fit into, sort of, your total portfolio of experiences, you're accumulating while you're here. What that leads to is high collaboration of students working together to–each year our students can only raise the bar over the year before them and say, "What are we bringing and what is that year's group of students bringing to that club or organization that's uniquely their footprint to what they've created," and they're creating experiences for their classmates.

So you're engaged in activities that are enriching for you as a leader, giving you an opportunity to develop your own experiences but you're working with your classmates to build out these opportunities. They're across the spectrum from socially engaging to personally engaging.

A great example I'll give is we do a leadership assessment, a 360 leadership assessment when you arrive here to help you identify where you are in your leadership development journey today. What attributes are strong for you and what areas might you have the opportunity to continue to hone in on your skills? I've known many students who actually engage in different organizations by picking a few opportunities where they can actually work on some of the areas of opportunity that they want to develop for themselves and it's what you call a completely low-risk environment where everybody is supportive of one another, wanting to do their best and succeed, and it gives you an opportunity to experiment with things in ways where there's really no risk and all upside for your colleagues and classmates.

So again, back to what we talked about earlier, [this is] one of the things that really distinguishes the experience. And year on year, the students are engaged with the faculty and administration in every element of what we do, to help enhance the future of Kellogg as well. So they're playing a core role in that co-creation approach to where we're headed with the school and programs. If you see an opportunity for an organization or a club that doesn't exist and you can generate interest, you can actually found a club in any area of interest that you'd like. Year on year that occurs as well.

Linda Abraham: Thank you very much for the wonderful answer. Now, you've touched on a couple of times the healthcare options at Kellogg, but we do have a question here from Devanch who asks, "What are opportunities for students looking to pursue a career in the healthcare industry?" I realize that healthcare is actually really broad because some would include pharma in that, but if you could maybe go into a little bit more detail, I think it would be very much appreciated.

Kate Smith: Sure. Well, you know, it's interesting, I just was having a conversation very recently with the head of our Career Management Center, Michael Malone, and we are seeing a massive increase in interested healthcare firms recruiting here at Kellogg. So much so that we actually have more firms interested in hiring than students interested in the opportunities available.

Linda Abraham: Wow. When you say "healthcare" are you talking more like health maintenance organizations, are you talking pharma?

Kate Smith: Across the board. It is a broad field. So I'm talking across the board. I think it's because we have a degree here called our HEMA program. It's the Health Enterprise Management, and the mission of the HEMA program is to meet the needs of any student who wants to excel in either the product or services side of the health industry.

So they may either select a biotechnology and medical products track or a health industry management track and, because of this degreed program, I think that is the reason that we have a probably–I don't know how it compares to our peers, but I know that we have more opportunities, career opportunities, coming, looking to hire Kellogg students than students potentially interested in that track. So, it's one of those things where we're seeing of growth of interest in this area. I know, as I'm reading applications that there are quite a few students who have a passion and see the evolving landscape of the future of the healthcare industry.

You can also go on our website and research a little bit. We have an annual business healthcare conference, which we just hosted here this November, and you can see who we brought on campus, and that again would be student-led and organized. I think it's a very rich area of growth and it's one where, as I said, we have quite a few different degree areas across real estate, our social enterprise, SEEK, degree here at school.

So I encourage you, as you have different areas of interest, because I know that the prospective students on the call today would absolutely cross a broadband width of industries and career focus areas that you're thinking about. That's one of the things we pride ourselves on is having all of these different centers of development, faculty centers of expertise here at Kellogg with the different degrees that are offered.

Linda Abraham: Now, is the HEMA Degree, is that a separate degree or a concentration within the MBA program?

Kate Smith: It's a concentration. So, if I used the word degree, we often call them concentrations or majors.

Linda Abraham: So, you still get the MBA but you have this special certification.

Kate Smith: It's essentially like a major within your MBA, a concentration from the HEMA program within you're graduating with a Kellogg MBA degree.

Linda Abraham: Great. Great. Okay. I just want to clarify that. And you have the same opportunity, obviously, in real estate.

Kate Smith: Yes. And so, that's why I always encourage folks. We're known for marketing. I think a lot of people are starting to recognize or understand that we're extensively engaged in the strategy arena with a large population of our students pursuing consulting post-Kellogg. You know, those are some areas we're known for, but as we mentioned, we have world-class finance faculty, we have the HEMA program, we have an entrepreneurship, Linda Darragh has just come here and rejoined Kellogg and has been rolling out new curriculum and enhancements in our entrepreneurship track.

So it's one of those where there are a lot of great pathways and options for students, and that's one of the things that I think helps make the student experience so rich is because you're here learning from your peers and your classmates in the environment that we create. This teamwork collaborative-based approach allows you to learn as much from your colleagues and classmates as you do in the classroom at times, because you're able to leverage and draw on–imagine yourself in a group where you're working with five, six other students over the course of a quarter, who come from all these different backgrounds and interest areas and it makes for really rich learning as you tackle business problems on the learning journey in the curriculum.

Linda Abraham: It's also a strength to be able to say, "Look, this is a general management program. You're going to have that breadth, but you're also going to be able to do a deep dive and have credentials showing that you did a deep dive into that specific area of interest."

Kate Smith: Correct.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Back to our guest questions. From Lester, "Is there a pre-decided number of applicants who will be admitted, based on the region where he or she is applying from?" I'm sure this is a concern for a lot of applicants.

Kate Smith: Yes. I can do a real simple answer, which is "No." There are no quotas. There are no limitations by any region, by any area of the world. We look at each applicant for the merit of what they would bring to the Kellogg student body and evaluate each application or each individual's contributions and look at you holistically. So, we are not profiling based on region or where you're from.

I always like to share that we’re proud of the fact that we have 48 countries represented in the class. I think that's varied from 47, 49, 45. It can fluctuate and that is purely based on the quality or caliber of the students who are applying and what part of the world they are applying from, but, no restrictions or quotas or anything of that nature.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Great. Now, we have a question from Todd. "What is the schedule for informing round one applicants of acceptances," and I would add that for round two, given the number of people here who are also interested in round two.

Kate Smith: Excellent. Yes. We're going to be informing, and we're coming up very quickly, on our round one decisions. So, we're hard at work right now reviewing our round one.

Linda Abraham: Double thanks for being here today given how busy you must be.

Kate Smith: It's a nice moment to be able to join you because we certainly understand the student–we want to be available to our students while they're applicants, while they're working through this process. So, it is a balancing act, for sure. But our round one decision will be rendered on Monday, December 17th, a week from Monday, and we're excited. I'm having fun reviewing–maybe I've already gotten to read some of you who are on the call today because that's one of the things that's a real joy to this role is seeing all the unique experiences that the students who we're reviewing would bring to Kellogg.

Then, round two deadline decision will be rendered on March 21st of next year.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Great. And then Navin asks, "How does Kellogg view re-applicants? Would you suggest waiting for more time before applying or to apply when you think you are ready?" I assume by "more time" he means not the next year, you know, one year after the other.

Kate Smith: As I mentioned earlier, we look at each applicant for what they bring to the community. So I absolutely encourage you to start with that notion of when you think you're ready because I think it varies. Some people are in a career that they are thoroughly enjoying, excited about the opportunities in front of them and might not want to forgo future opportunities that the company or the industry or the path that they're on and so they're not ready to apply for their MBA yet.

And there's a wide array of work experience represented in our class. So the notion of “you several years of work experience or you have over ten years of work experience”, we have representation of all of that here in our class. It really is about the when you're ready, why you think it's the right time, what is it going to help you do? Because we want people who are going to be engaged and actively involved in the experience, with the experience and maximize your own experience, while here. So it comes down to where you think you are and when you think it's going to be useful.

If you're looking to make a career change, as one of the earlier questions alluded to, and you think you have several years under your belt and you're ready to make that change, this might be the right time for you. So we do not have any point in time that we reference as this is the right time to do it. It really comes back to what's the collective experience that you have had and how the MBA is going to help you enhance the skills in your own development towards the career goals that you have.

Linda Abraham: Great. Okay. Next question is from Ritish, "I have been communicating with several current students to learn about the program and they have generously offered to submit a letter of endorsement on my behalf. How does the admissions committee take that into consideration and if it's submitted now is it too late to be considered for the first-round applications?"

Kate Smith: We do not encourage additional recommendations outside of the traditional application. So I'm not saying I discourage, but I'm not encouraging. I'm really in the state of neutral here because what we want to do is review each applicant for the merits of who they are, what they have accomplished, and we want to be in equitable level playing field. So if you are from some far-flung, far-reaching point or area of the world and haven't had the opportunity to connect with anyone, we want you to have the same opportunity as anyone else. So we would not, as the admissions committee, be taking that into consideration in a way that's going to enhance the review of that application.

What we want is for those who are still applying– to spend the time identifying strong recommenders for your two formal letters of recommendation and application. We would like to see there, an emphasis of two individuals who can really comment on you and your contributions in the workplace. We'd love to have a supervisor. We know that sometimes that's not possible for different extenuating circumstances or comfort level with revealing that you may be interested in pursuing your MBA with an employer. So if you can go to a direct supervisor, we'd like you to start there, or a previous supervisor also accomplishes the notion of–a superior is someone who can reflect a little more experience and can reflect on your performance and progress from a view of seeing you in that organization.

Then, a second letter of recommendation you can choose among other supervisors. If you're in a position where you don't have that available to you, clients, people who can reflect on the quality of your work and the contributions that you've made. So student recommendations are not something that is officially part of our process, and it is not something that I encourage or is added to the consideration set in any way.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Great. You mentioned, a couple minutes ago that you now have expanded the entrepreneurship and innovation offerings at Kellogg, specifically with Kellogg Innovation Entrepreneurship Initiative. Can you comment on that for a second?

Kate Smith: Absolutely. It's actually a really exciting part of our Envision Kellogg agenda, we have developed an area where we’re focusing on enhancing what is already a strong base here of offerings in the entrepreneurship track. But what Dean Blount did is she recently hired back to Kellogg our faculty member, Linda Darragh, who has extensive experience in this space and what she has introduced–and we've actually just rolled out for our students this year–is enhancements to the curriculum. There's going to be three different core tracks of innovation entrepreneurship for you to explore because Linda has identified that there are multiple pathways in the space. Entrepreneurship is a very broad statement. There are different ways for you to explore that.

The first track is called New Venture Creation. It's the idea of building a business from scratch. It has three phases, the discovery phase, the launch phase, and acceleration of building a business from scratch. The discovery piece is what a lot of MBA programs, we think, don't have as much depth on, and so she's enhancing that track by putting additional coursework and offerings against that tracking option.

Another is the mid-cap growth track and that's really going to focus on middle market businesses that are poised for growth. Over 80% of entrepreneurial endeavors end up in this sort of mid-cap growth stage, and it is a stage in which a company goes from start up to cementing themselves as a very viable business organization or entity.

Then, the third is identifying that many large organizations, the Apples, Google's, P&G or pick your industry space, innovation is very much central to the dialogue of what drives businesses today. So in a large, Fortune 500 type of organization where many of our students pursue their careers post-Kellogg, there are opportunities for you to find innovation-specific roles in those and we will continue to build on our corporate innovation track, which we've had quite a few offerings in that space as well. So, those are some of the enhancements that she's brought and that focus of three different pathways, and it allows us to kind of broadly encompass entrepreneurship and innovation in whatever focus that you're looking into.

Linda Abraham: Great. Okay. And one more question. Vishal asks, "What's the most common mistake applicants make, thereby getting rejected?" What's the most common mistake applicants make in their application?

Kate Smith: I would say, thinking that a choosing a recommender who is some very senior person is a lot of mistake a lot of applicants make because they believe that the title of the individual is important. What we care about very much is that the person writing a letter of recommendation knows you well and can talk extensively and answer the questions on our letter of recommendation form, answer those in-depth about you and your contributions. So I would say that's probably the one mistake I see a lot of people make is that they think seniority or title is more important over somebody who can very accurately and in-depth describe your contributions and experience.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Great. Thank you very much. I want to thank you, Kate, for highly informative answers you provided everybody today. I haven't shared it, but there have been lots and lots and lots of thank you's coming in from the people who pose the questions and people who just found the answers better. Just right now somebody typed, "Thanks. I loved the chance to get to know Kellogg better," and I'm getting the thank yous, but they really belong to you.

Kate Smith: Thank you for setting up this chat today. I truly enjoy the opportunity to connect with anyone who is exploring the opportunity to come to Kellogg because, as I mentioned, having been a student here, I just think it's such an exceptional place to pursue your MBA, and we love engaging in that dialogue with our future students. So we appreciate your time and helping connect us today.

Linda Abraham: You're most welcome, A special thanks to applicants who came and shared their questions because, obviously, that's what Kate was responding to mostly, and, if you have additional questions for Kate, please email them to MBAadmissions@kellogg.northwestern.edu .

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. Best of luck to all of you with your applications.

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