2013 Michigan Ross MBA Admissions Q&A with Jon Fuller & Diana Economy

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2013 Michigan Ross MBA Admissions Q&A with Jon Fuller & Diana Economy

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Linda AbrahamLinda Abraham: Hello, my name is Linda Abraham. I'm the Founder of Accepted.com, and the moderator of today's chat. First, I want to welcome all applicants to the Q&A today, and I want to congratulate you for taking the time to learn more about Michigan Ross School of Business. It is critical to your decision-making process and your admissions chances that you know as much as you can about the schools you are applying to. Being here today allows you to ask the experts about this top business school.

I also want to give a special welcome to our panelists, Jon Fuller. Jon's been a veteran on our chats and Q&A's. He is the Senior Associate Director of Admissions at Ross; and Diana Economy, whom I had the pleasure of meeting in Los Angeles a few months ago at a Forte event. She is the Associate Director of Admissions and also a member of Ross' Class of 2010. Thank you both for joining and thanks also to the applicants who are taking time to join us. Jon, I am going to take advantage of my position as moderator and ask the first question, and that is, Jonathan and Diana, what's new at Ross?

Diana Economy: Well, there's lots of great new things here at Ross, and first let me say that just as an alum, I graduated in 2010, as you mentioned. I've just joined the admissions team in the last four or five months, and it's just wonderful to be back, to not only see the great things that have happened since I've left, but to see where we're building and where we're headed.

A variety of things that are kind of coming off of the fact that our new Dean is on board, and I'll let Jon talk a little bit more about that. But there are a couple of student-driven things that I want to point out to everybody that I think people will find of interest. First off, we've had a lot of people express interest in entrepreneurship, in fact, even more so than when I was a student.

One of the organizations that started when I was a student was something called the Social Venture Fund. The Social Venture Fund is one of three Venture Funds that we have as part of our entrepreneurial organization within Ross called the Zell Lurie Institute. It's a fund that funds for-profit organizations that are both turning a profit as well as looking for a social return, and ideally an environmental return. We're pleased to announce that that fund just funded its second venture.

Linda Abraham: Wow.

Diana Economy: This is the first of its kind social venture fund in the country, and it's been very, very successful and very popular amongst our students, and the second investment was just recently made.

Linda Abraham: Can you say how much the investment was or is that confidential?

Diana Economy: I can. In fact, what I'll do is actually try to get a link up here so we can get a little bit more information out there, so that if people are interested in checking it out further, they can do that.

Linda Abraham: Sounds good.

Diana Economy: Great, and I think Jon's back on here too, so he can give you some more context.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Sounds good, Jon?

Jon Fuller: So yes, in terms of other things that are new at Ross, our Dean joined Ross a little over a year ago. And she's been spending a lot of time in the past year, 15 months or so, engaging with current students, very notably, alumni, our donors, our recruiters, faculty, and staff to really survey the landscape, not only at Ross but more broadly in terms of the landscape that Ross plays in terms of other schools, to try to figure out how to better hone what is already a pretty strong program and a pretty strong institution and try to figure out ways to take it to really the next level in a lot of ways.

Through all of those conversations that she's been having, she's been releasing gradually to those different constituent groups a draft of a strategic plan that she plans on implementing within the coming months. I verified with my boss and others that I wasn't going to get fired if I talked a little bit about some of the elements that are part of this strategic plan.

About a year ago when Allison Davis Blake came on board, people were asking me when I was on the road and talking to prospects, "Well, is she going to change Ross top to bottom?" We [responded] "Well, no, I don't think so." I think the strategic plan is a good reflection of how she is looking at what are our strengths and how do we build those and really take those to the next level.

One of the first things I'll mention is in terms of action-based learning. It is core to what we do, the experiential learning component of not just teaching you the solid foundation, solid academic theory of things, and bringing cutting-edge academic research into curriculum and into the student experience, but also taking those and finding new and more enhanced ways to apply those in a real-world context. She's further dedicating in one of the pillars of the strategic plan is really taking action-based learning to the next level.

A lot of people, when they think about action-based learning at Ross, they think about the MAP project, the Multi-disciplinary Action Project that people are often very familiar with. And what she's doing is working with the faculty and others to find ways to incorporate the best practices and the best experiences out of MAP, and apply those even more so throughout the entire two-year experience that people have in our program. So action-based is one of those particular things.

Another thing that people often forget or aren't as aware of when they're evaluating our program and evaluating the opportunities that are there is they can forget that not only is Ross an incredible business school with a lot of great opportunities, but we are fortunate enough to be housed in an amazing university. And so, another element, another pillar of the strategic plan is to focus on the multi-disciplinary aspects of our program and find new, exciting, and different ways to engage MBA students in other activities that are going on around the university, whether they be in engineering, or public policy, or medicine, or biomedical engineering within engineering, or public health.

Creating those opportunities and making them even richer and deeper, so that students can not only learn from top-notch graduate students throughout the university, but also then even further customize their own academic experience to better enable their career aspirations, and making sure that they have a lot of flexibility in terms of not just getting an MBA, but getting an MBA that really fits exactly to what they're seeking both in the short and long term. That's what I would say are some of the things that are new and enhancements of things that we've already had a lot of success with in the past.

Linda Abraham: Building on the foundation of the past, really.

Jon Fuller: Right.

Diana Economy: And Jon, I think to add to that, one of the things you mentioned was the multi-disciplinary nature of the program. That's definitely something that's come up quite as bit as I've been on the road, and of course, the opportunity that our MBA students have to take up to ten credits outside the business school has been particularly appealing because they’re able to do that at any one of our top graduate programs. I can tell you that I took classes at the education and public policy schools as a student, given that my interests were more at the intersection of education and business that made a lot of sense for me. I've also gotten a lot of interest in the dual degrees, and we offer several, which is great.

Linda Abraham: Great. Okay. We have a question from Twitter, so we're going to start taking some questions from both the audience in the chat and out of the chat, which is kind of nice, thanks to Chris being here. Here's a question from Twitter, "How many of the recommendations from MAP are actually implemented? Do you have any idea? Or, can you give us an example if you don't have an idea in terms of how many?"

Jon Fuller: That's not something that they track in a definitive kind of way. It's interesting–and Diana maybe can talk a little bit about her MAP experience and maybe what the outcome was of that. It definitely varies, I think, in terms of how many of the recommendations are immediately implemented within the organizations that are being advised by the student groups. And part of that is because it's interesting when you talk to students about their experiences, and they say "Well, we walked into our MAP project thinking that the challenge, or the problem, or the issue at hand was 'X,' but then after we investigated, and did our research, and spoke to all of these various constituent groups at these organizations on site, we actually discovered that the problem was 'Y.'"

The companies aren't always prepared to engage with that because they [say] "Oh, well, now we need to rethink maybe how do we approach these solutions because they are addressing challenges that we hadn't even initially thought of.” So, that's an excellent question in terms of how many are.

I know that it definitely happens. An example that I know from a year or two ago, we had a student team that was working with LAN Airlines in Latin America, in South America, and they were doing a MAP project that was very operationally focused on finding efficiencies in baggage handling and in gate activities before people get on planes and get off planes. They were down in Peru for a number of weeks, and as their project wrapped up, they had presented to the CEO of LAN Airlines. He was really impressed with the things that they had to say.

As they were getting ready to depart Lima where their project was predominately based, they said they were in the airport and they could see numerous examples of where their recommendations were already being implemented. So again, one of the other really interesting aspects about MAP is that it's not only with interesting and really valuable organizations that can provide really rich opportunities, also one of the big aspects is that it has significant senior-level engagement with leaders at those companies.

So like I said, that student group presented to the CEO of the organization of LAN Airlines. He thought enough of their comments to make sure that was immediately conveyed to people on the line to actually implement those changes. That might be an extreme example, but it's an example nonetheless of the quality and the caliber of the work that these students put out within a seven-week period of time, and just how valued it is by those organizations.

Linda Abraham: All right, I have a question for the applicants who are here, just to give us a sense of where you all are at in the process? Where you are in the [application] process. Did you already apply round one? Are you planning to apply round two? Are you applying to round three or later or some other classification? I guess that would be are you not planning to apply. Are you just doing research?

Okay, we have over 70% having voted. 33% of the people here have already applied. 58% are planning to apply round two, and nobody's planning for round three, and 8% are other. It doesn't quite add up, but we'll take it. It's close enough. Somebody also just wrote in round one.

All right, so, you probably have a pretty motivated group here today, Diana and Jon, since a third have already applied. It seems like the plurality are certainly committed to applying round two. Okay, so we have a question here from Nikhil, he asks, "How does the admissions committee look at candidates with less than 2.5 years of work experience?"

Diana Economy: We get the work experience question fairly often. People ask "Given 'X' number of years, what do I look like in terms of the class profile?" I would say a couple of things in terms of an overview. First, in terms of years of experience, I think you'll find that we do have a range. Typically it's about two to ten, but could extend even higher than that with an average of about four or five years of experience. The reason, of course, that we look for experience–I'm glad actually that this is coming on the tail of MAP in particular–I know we were just talking about that–because that is an experience where you are doing a real world business problem.

So that's a very clear cut example of you're bringing not only what you're learning in the classroom to the table, but you're also needing to bring experience that you have prior to business school. We really feel like it enriches both the MAP experience as well as, of course, the overall classroom experience to have people that are able to have not quantity of experience necessarily, but we're really looking for people that have quality of experience that have had an impact on their organization, and have shown progression within their career. It really livens up the classroom discussions, and that's why we believe very strongly that experience is a key part to a business school application.

Linda Abraham: Great, thank you. And recruiters like it too, don't they?

Diana Economy: That's right.

Linda Abraham: Right. Okay. We have a general question from Suresh, and he asks "How is Ross' program different from other top programs? Is there anything in particular?" Now, I know that you know the Ross program best, so let me rephrase that question if I could and say "What do you think Ross is particularly strong at?"

Jon Fuller: Not that we're a one-trick pony with the action-based learning component, but that is definitely something that I think is a big differentiating factor to our students’ experience within our program; is that, again, through MAP and a lot of other experiences, such as through our institutes and centers, through student life experience, and the clubs and organizations that our students lead and develop, there are many, many opportunities to take theory and put it into practice, and to put it in practice in a context that actually has significant impact and significant weight to it.

To go back to Diana's example that she gave in the beginning with the Social Venture Fund, these are real dollars that students are applying to real organizations. And they're using the instruction and experience that they are gaining in a classroom context that they're getting from their faculty and from their fellow students and actually applying it in a real-world context. Our philosophy is "Why should you wait until you graduate from your MBA program to actually try some of these things out, to try some of these learnings out and apply them to the real world?" There’s a safety net in some ways for you to test yourself, to test your boundaries, and to experiment, but at the same time, there are real stakes involved. It gives a different level of emphasis to those things. So I think that's one real distinguishing factor.

Another thing that I won't go so far to say that is unique, but one thing that I'm always struck by is the engagement of our student body in terms of actually making the Ross experience their own, and really shaping and having a significant role and actually providing direction to the school. We have over seventy different student organizations and clubs. All of them are student run. Of course, there may be a faculty advisor and there is staff support to these organizations, but the students have ultimate say in terms of what the programming is, what direction to take their organization in, what conferences they hold for themselves and their fellow students and alumni.

We tell people, we want you to be involved. We want you to be engaged, and if you don't see something here that exists that is of interest to you, then make it happen. We give you the tools, the insight, and the resources in order to do that, and there are a number of examples that I could give in recent years. The Social Venture Fund is one of the examples. Not to focus on that one inordinately, but that came out of a group of students a couple of years ago saying "We have all these great things through the Zell Lurie group, but none of them are necessarily direct reflection of the social interest and the social focus that we have as a school. Let's do something about this." They made it happen.

Design thinking and design within business schools is a really hot topic these days, so a couple years ago, students got together and said, "We should start a student club that focuses on design thinking, and figure out ways not just to educate one another about how to apply design concepts and process into our business practices, but then also how do we take those skills and apply them for the benefit of the school, and apply them for the benefit of our community?"

I had a meeting this afternoon with three of the leaders of the Design in Business Club to take a look at our admissions process and our recruiting process to figure out new and innovative ways for us to recruit students within the United States and around the world. So students are very active. It is not a passive existence, or a passive experience that they have, and I think that's a real distinguishing feature to the extent that that happens, at the Ross school.

Linda Abraham: Diana, do you want to add anything to that as a recent alum?

Diana Economy: In fact, I think our alumni base is very much a distinguishing factor. I noticed that both as a student as well as an alum. I think to further Jon's point about the connection that students have with one another through their experience here and co-creating this great experience that develops these very strong bonds that they continue on as alum.

I think our alumni feel very strongly about giving back. Of course, University of Michigan's got one of the largest living alumni bases anywhere. And as a Ross graduate, you're not just a part of the Ross school of business graduate community; you're part of a larger University of Michigan community. You could pick up the phone anywhere in the world and call somebody who was a law school alum or an undergraduate alum or a med school alum, and you're part of that broader network. Which of course, when you go to business school, you're not just preparing for that first job out of business school, but essentially for your whole career. Having that strong alumni base is something that we feel is very strong here.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you very, very much. Let's go back to some other questions that we have here. Vishant asks, "How does the number of round one applications this year compare to last year's number, and how does Ross view the applicants?"

Jon Fuller: There's actually been a lot of press recently about the declining volume of applications and what does that mean for the world, and what is that going to mean for admissions for this particular cycle. As is mentioned, we just had our round one deadline on October 10th, and we were actually up about 2% year-over-year. So from that standpoint, I don't know what that means, in terms of . . .

Linda Abraham: Well, it’s better than a decline. That’s for sure.

Jon Fuller: Absolutely. I mean, 2% isn't a necessarily a huge number, but we'll take positive, and I think that's a testament to people's enthusiasm about the program and the opportunities that are presented. We don't agonize too much from one year to the next, are we up 2%, are we down 10%, all that kind of stuff. We are fortunate enough to have a pretty significant applicant pool that's really quite strong. That's a good thing. We, selfishly, at admissions will never complain about having more people to choose from.

But as candidates, sometimes candidates get worried about, "How much more competition is there? Is it going to be that much harder for me to get in?" We tell individuals, "Yes, it is a competitive process and it is for our programs and a lot of other peer programs. But by all means, if you are passionate about our program, and what we can do for your future, and what contributions you can make for our program, you shouldn't think twice about applying and trying to become part of our community."

Linda Abraham: Sounds good. Okay. This is from Brian "MBA programs are often used and promoted as vehicles for career change; and many current students I have spoken with admit to changes in desired career paths multiple times. Yet most programs require an essay detailing specific plans post MBA. What advice do you have for applicants whose career paths may be less defined, and are these applicants at a disadvantage?"

Jon Fuller: In terms of career changes and then also having clarity on goals, or what someone wants to do post MBA, there are a couple of factors that come into play with that. For one, I would say the overwhelming majority, over 50% definitely, of our students each year report that they are planning on being a career switcher. So they came in doing one thing, and they plan on leaving our MBA program doing something else. The skill sets and the tool box that students develop while they're at Ross is very strong at enabling people to do that. Not only do that immediately post-MBA, but then also down the road to change career again, to change career path.

The skills that you develop are not just relevant in your first post MBA job, but they benefit you across the span of your career as well. That's part of the point. We're trying to give you an experience that's going to be beneficial to you over the span of your career, not just immediately after graduation.

So, for one, don't feel like you're alone in that aspect of like "Well, I'm the only person," a lot of people are. Second of all, in terms of is that a detriment in terms of not having a laser-lock focus on what it is you want to do. Well, no. We do need to have some clarity in terms of a general idea on the direction that you're planning on going.

Like I said, have some clarity on that, but mind you, those essays that you write about, "What are my short and long-term goals?" Those aren't contracts. We aren't going to hold–half joking, but I'm serious–with candidates, this is not something when you walk across the stage at graduation that we're going to hold up that essay and say, "Well, hey, you're not doing what you said you were going to do." Because we know that you don't know what you don't know. You don't know what experiences you're going to have, what influences you're going to have during the program that might actually change your mind from thinking that you might go to one particular path to shifting to something else. That's okay. We definitely have a tolerance for that.

But what we do want to know is that you have some degree of focus as an applicant, as an early student, because an MBA program is two years in duration, but that two years goes incredibly quickly. If you don't have a degree of focus, if you don't have sort of a short list of things you want to do and a plan for conveying how those skills that you have are transferable to that new path and so on, you're really going to struggle in the recruiting process, which probably is going to extend, and you're going to be struggling academically because you're going to be focusing so much on the recruiting process and the like.

Anyway, long story short, I wouldn't worry about it too terribly much. Try to have some clarity within your essays and convey what you want to do. But we're okay with the fact that, to be honest with you, if you're not 100% sold that that's the path that you want to go. Diana, I don't know if you want to chime in and say just from your own academic experience in terms of how you and your peers might have shifted a little bit during the MBA process and what are your thoughts about that?

Diana Economy: I think a lot of people come to business school as career changers, or at least initially think, "I want to explore something different than what I'm doing right now, and it's possible that maybe I'll go back." But I think a couple of things practically that happen when you come to business school; first of all, recruiters are on campus very quickly, like, within a few weeks of school starting. So you've now moved to a new place, started a set of core curriculum, with new people, putting your resume together, trying to figure out what you want to do next, and boom, the recruiters are on campus. If you are not clear on what you want to do, you will be really pulled in so many different directions that it will be hard, and you won't find yourself as successful as your peers.

But I think for those who were career switchers, there were a few keys things that I think they did, or that they took part in here that made them successful. First of all, MAP is actually a really excellent way for career switchers to gain some additional experience in an area that they have interest in. So if you're in marketing and you want to go into finance, MAP sort of serves as an additional internship for you to jump from. Or if you've been part of a small organization and you need a name brand on your resume, MAP can serve as that as well. There are definitely things that as a career switcher you should do, or can do to explore your career further, but having a bit of a clear path coming in, at least where you want to start with, is really going to make you more successful.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. I also have actually some real strong opinions on this particular topic. The fact that you might change your mind shouldn't prevent you or excuse you from planning. The MBA is a major investment. I think Diana and Jon have given some very good reasons why it's very important to have this direction before you start, in terms of maximizing your internship search, having direction in terms of choosing classes. It just makes sense. At this point in time, we rarely do anything without some purpose behind it. You certainly wouldn't spend $100,000 in two years without some purpose behind it.

So it's that idea of a purposeful approach to an application or admissions–and Diana and Jon if you disagree with me, by all means, feel free–the idea of a purposeful approach to admissions, to the investment that is an MBA, to the wonderful experience that is an MBA, that is behind the goals essay question. As Jon said, it's not a contract, and planning and goals doesn't mean you can't change your mind when opportunities present themselves to you. But there's a difference to planning and changing your mind and being aimless. I think the latter is what the schools want to avoid, and that's why they ask for the goals question. Diana or Jon, am I being too strong?

Diana Economy: You're right on.

Jon Fuller: No, I'd agree. You're right on. You've done this before, I think.

Linda Abraham: Yes, I've done this before. Okay. Let's get back to the questions. I apologize if I mispronounce anybody's name. Onyinye asks, "I'm concerned about feeling too old amongst my classmates. I've been out of college for about ten years. Am I going to be in the minority?"

Diana Economy: I mean, I came after eight years when I started my MBA program, and by no means did I feel like age was a factor in my involvement in the classroom, outside of the classroom, or really career-wise. I think an MBA, as you mentioned, is a big investment, a $100,000 investment, and coming when you're ready and you feel like you've developed the skills and that you're at the right point. We always say, "Not only why an MBA and why Ross, but why now? Why is now the right time for you to get the MBA?" I think as long as you're reflective and really understand where you're headed and what skills you bring to the classroom; I think that shouldn't be a factor at all.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Here we have another question from Sumid, "How important are recommendations? I mean, I cannot ask my current supervisor for a rec, so if I'm getting a recommendation from some others, my professional colleagues, am I at any disadvantage?"

Jon Fuller: Recommendations are definitely a very important part of the application. I wouldn't fret too much about it–I mean, we ask for a direct supervisor, we ask for them both in the case of Ross to be both professional recommendations and one of them preferably coming from your current supervisor, someone within your organization. But we certainly understand that an individual might not be–that might not be possible for you for a variety of reasons, whether it be you might be fearful for your job if you ask your current boss or supervisor to write you a recommendation and any number of other things.

So if you have some concern about who your recommender choice, and you might be concerned about how the admissions committee is going to interpret that, that's an excellent opportunity to make a couple of brief comments within the optional question that we have as part of our application, just to give us a little bit of context as to why you selected your recommenders. But mostly, what we want from recommenders is we're hopefully going to get an independent, third party perspective as to what you are as an employee. What do you bring to the table? What are you strengths? What are your areas for improvement? What are you bringing to the table?

Pretty much everything else within your application, you are presenting yourself. They're your own words. They're your own thoughts, and the recommendations give a valuable viewpoint to give us another perspective to see how that perspective and what you are presenting as an overall profile is either being reinforced by your recommender, or it might be on occasion contradicted within your recommendation too.

But again, as it comes to choice, you want to ask someone who knows you well, knows the quality of your work, knows your potential for improvement, what kind of contributions you've made, what kind of impact you've made in a professional context. Usually, that more often than not is going to be your current supervisor, but it doesn't categorically have to be your current supervisor. So again, if that is impossible for you for some reason, like I said, just make a couple of brief comments. Oftentimes you'll hear people talk about the optional essay, and essay is really a misnomer. We don't really need to hear 500 words as to why you picked the recommender that you picked. Like I said, it could just be a couple of sentences. But again, that's something that's useful to help to inform the admissions committee about to give us some context.

Linda Abraham: Sounds good. Okay. We're having several questions about–I'm going to kind of lump them together for the moment–about the range of the GMAT score. "What is the lowest GPA, GMAT scores that Ross has admitted? What is the range?" I know that this is on your website, but if you could just provide that information and then I'll come with a couple of follow-up questions. So what is the range for the GMAT, and the lower end also, apparently, is what people want to know at the moment.

Diana Economy: So the range, the middle 80th percentile is 650 to 750, so of course 10% above 10% below, with an average of 703 from this class that just recently started. Jon, you want to comment further on anything with GMAT?

Jon Fuller: Yes, one thing about that. People do often fixate a little bit on GMAT, and again, it's another important element to the application. Every component of the application we're asking for a reason. We're not just trying to torture people with standardized tests or torture students with all these writing exercise and those kinds of things. They're often very informative in terms of somebody's potential and capability with our program.

What the GMAT does for us is gives us some degree of confidence in terms of how someone is going to perform within our MBA program, especially on the quantitative component. We have a lot of different ways to assess somebody's verbal and communication abilities throughout the application, so we have your essays. We potentially have your interview. We have usually, more often than not, someone in their undergraduate experience will have taken some kind of English or writing course as well. So again, we're going to have a lot of data that points to someone's verbal and communication ability.

From a quantitative perspective, it's much more of a mixed bag. We have applicants who have any number of different professional and academic backgrounds, and we really, really like that. But then how do you consistently assess somebody's quantitative ability, especially when you have English majors who are applying next to engineers? English majors probably don't have the quantitative background that and engineer is going to have. So what the GMAT does, what these standardized tests [are for], the GMAT and the GRE, is provide us some degree of barometer in terms of what somebody's quantitative ability might be.

That said, that's not the only piece we're assessing in terms of somebody's academic ability. We're also, again, looking at your undergraduate performance. We're putting those two in context with one another to see how they reinforce one another, again how they might contradict one another, what kind of story is being told. And we're also going to look at your professional experience. How are you potentially leveraging data? How are you leveraging quantitative information within your professional role as well?

We roll all of those things up together to try to get some kind assessment of your academic ability. So someone with a lower GMAT score, hopefully that'll be offset by strong undergraduate performance, especially in that quantitative realm. If that doesn't exist, you can't go back in time and suddenly take additional math classes or stat classes undergrad, but what you can do, potentially if you have time within your application cycle is to consider taking maybe an additional class. It could be at a community college; it could be online. We don't necessarily prescribe what kind of course it is or what kind of delivery methodology might be.

But again, something that is a data point for us to leverage in the application process that gives us confidence that you're going to be able to perform well in our MBA program. We understand that not everybody is going to knock finance out of the park, and going to knock accounting out of the park, and statistics and those kinds of things. But we want to make sure you're not struggling too significantly. Again, we've talked about how much we have invested in this experience. We all have too much invested–you do and we do and you–to see you struggle an inordinate amount. So that's why we put a lot of emphasis on that. But again, it isn’t an end all be all.

Another thing that I always tell candidates is that there's really never one element of the application that's going to guarantee someone admission. And there's very rarely one element that's really going to preclude us from taking someone under very serious consideration when it comes to admission. For the GMAT or the GRE, definitely that holds true for that aspect as well.

Linda Abraham: All right. I'm going to ask the applicants who are here about the GMAT. "How many of you have taken it and are happy with your score, how many of you took it and are unhappy with your it and are planning to retake, and how many of you are studying now for your first test?" Great. 60% have taken it and are happy with the score, 13% took it and are unhappy and are planning to retake, and 27% are studying now for the first administration, first test. That's actually pretty good. That's higher than I think what we normally get when I ask this question.

Now for the follow-up question which is from Susan. I think you partially addressed this without even being asked, Jon, "How would you suggest a candidate explain lower math metrics?" I think you're suggesting that they don't so much explain them, but they change them. Is that correct?

Diana Economy: I think more showing versus telling, huh?

Linda Abraham: Change the metrics is, I think, what you're saying.

Jon Fuller: Yes, if there are ways of doing that, that's an ideal thing. Because we understand, college could have been a number of years ago for many people. Again, if our average work experience of five years, that probably means that someone's been out for five years or maybe longer as well. So there definitely is an opportunity to–it's like revisionist history or something. You can change the narrative a little bit if there are some additional data points that we can look at that can again, overcome some of that concern that might be being drawn from a couple of years ago.

Our director, Soojin always says, "Who does well in college? Everybody has something that academically they're not necessarily the most proud of in their undergraduate experience." We understand that's true too in seeing all the applicants. Everybody has a blip for a semester; everybody has a blip for a particular course or two.

But again, when we're looking at the whole package that is you as a candidate, there are definitely people that we go ahead and admit, because we might be a little bit concerned about that math, or we might be a little bit concerned about the breadth and the depth of the work experience, but there's a lot of upside for a candidate. There are a lot of other things they're bringing to the table that really speak to us and make us want to invite that person to join our community. Do the best you can, and put yourself into as positive a light as you possibly can, and then cross your fingers.

Diana Economy: I mean, at the end of the day, we do need to make sure that we have the confidence that they can be successful, particularly, Jon, as you mentioned, that core curriculum. So as you said, between looking at the GRE, GMAT, work experience if it's been of a quantitative or analytical nature, as well as their undergraduate grades. I think it really is a combination of things to say, "Can you perform successfully in the class room, and are you going to be a contributing class mate?"

Linda Abraham: Great. Okay. Amar asks, "I've applied round one, and I'm looking forward to interview with ad com. When can I expect to hear from the ad com?" Now Jon, I saw a tweet, I think a week or two ago, that invitations were out.

Jon Fuller: Well, some of them were. So depending on the schools you're applying to and the experience that you might have had thus far, you know, different schools do things differently; which can be a little bit maddening for candidates at times. We'll acknowledge that. The way that we do it rather than send interview invitations in fits and spurts at sort of random times; we release them in usually two and sometimes three main waves.

The first wave of invitations did go out close to a little over a week and a half ago, and then, we have a second set of interview invitations that will go out on November 12th, I believe, which is in about another week and a half or so. We created these ways to try to diminish anxiety a little bit, so people weren't constantly refreshing their email to see if an invitation had come yet, or checking the forums and the like to see if people had been being interviewed and when would their turn come next. It's like "Okay. I know that if I didn't get invited to interview, then there's another opportunity that will come in another week, or a week or two, for me here." We're very forward in publishing that information in terms of the timing.

In terms of "Were you invited in wave one or were you invited in wave two? Does that mean that there's no way that I'm going to get admitted if I got invited in wave two," and the concerns that might come, that's not true. The timing of your interview invitation really has nothing to do with the likelihood of admission. Part of the reason why we do it in waves is flow control. We get a lot of applications, and it takes us some time to do the review that's required for us to determine who we'd like to interview to get to know a little bit better. It just takes a little bit of time over the round.

So hopefully, you'll hear from us on November 12th, and like I said, sometimes we'll have a kind of clean-up wave of invitations that'll come sort of a little bit later in the round, but one of the best things that you can do [is], Soojin, our Director, has a blog that she posts to fairly regularly talking about the process and about timing. And I'll share that link in a little bit in regards to the blog. Just pay attention to that and see what she has to say in terms of what's coming up next, and hopefully that'll relieve a little bit of your anxiety and stress with that process.

Linda Abraham: She also provides excellent advice on that blog. It's fun to read it. Okay. Justin asks, "How does the Ross MBA selection process view applicants with BBAs from the University of Michigan Business School? Has the Ross MBA dramatically changed over the past six to eight years?" Apparently, he got his BBA around 2004. It's before it was Ross.

Diana Economy: I got my undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan, not from Ross, but came back, of course for my MBA. So for me, it was obviously a much different experience from a Liberal Arts perspective. But I think even for those who come from the Ross BBA perspective, especially given some distance between their undergraduate experience and their graduate experience, they're probably at a very different point in their mindset, in their career, and probably what they're looking for out of the program.

I would say there's enough richness and diversity to our program depending on their interest that I think that they could very well differentiate between what they got out a BBA program here at Ross and what they would get out of the MBA program including a whole different set of professors, a different set of experiences, such as MAP, and of course, the student community, which is such a big part of the school.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Great. Vivik asks "In what ways does Ross implement the action-based learning other than through MAP?"

Diana Economy: Action-based learning happens in a lot of different fashions here, whether it's through a course that is specifically focused on international business where you're learning during the course different concepts, and then you're implementing them when you're perhaps going abroad over Spring Break.

Or through something called the Leadership Crisis Challenge. This is great experience that a lot of people value. The Leadership Crisis challenge is very much a team-based experience where you're pretending that you're the executive team of an organization; you're given a specific crisis. Think about BP and what they went through when that oil went into the Gulf Coast. So you're given a particular scenario, and you need to then think on your feet as that leadership team, "How are we actually going to respond to this crisis?"

Of course, as you're preparing your remarks different challenges present themselves. Different twists and turns that very much mimic real life. You then pretty quickly through this experience need to gather your thoughts and present to a real live press crew about what you, as the leadership team of this company would do to face these challenges. So it's one of many of the very hands-on experiences that I think take place that students take advantage of.

Other things, our Community Consulting Club is a very real world opportunity to actually apply business skills to impact local non-profit organizations and their business challenges that they're facing. It pulls up, I would say, very often.

Linda Abraham: Great. Okay. Natala asks "What does Ross have to offer a student interested in entertainment, media, and technology?"

Jon Fuller: One of the things that I'll post, I guess, to reinforce some of the strengths that we have in those particular areas, I think I'd sent you a link to our clubs and student organizations, and I'll probably also forward you a link to our employment report, so you can get an idea as to where some of our students are going in some of those areas. Again, I think from an entertainment and media standpoint there's a very active student organization. They do a trek each fall from a career perspective out to the West Coast and then also to New York, I believe, to meet with entertainment and media organizations.

We have MAP projects that oftentimes a selection of them are made with organizations of that type. Then technology is something that we actually have quite a bit of a presence in, in terms of where students go from an internship perspective, and where they also go from a full-time perspective. One of our biggest employers, hiring performance, from a full-time perspective in recent years, has been Amazon.com, for instance. We had a MAP project with Facebook this year, or two. There are a lot of things that are related to those particular areas of interest that I'd advise that person to take a look at and dig into a little bit further.

Linda Abraham: Sounds good. Okay. Nikhil asks, "Are IELTS/TOEFL mandatory? I have graduated from a college where the medium of instruction was English, and I have a certificate to that effect."

Diana Economy: Yes, if the language of instruction of your undergraduate institution was in English, you are qualified to waive that language entrance exam.

Linda Abraham: Okay. So they don't need the TOEFL or the IELTS.

Diana Economy: That's correct.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Now Sumit asks kind of an interesting question. "I'm an IT consultant with six years of experience. I aspire to a career in strategy consulting," in an area related to his IT experience. He was in credit cards. He wants to go into payment sector. "Is a career change from IT consulting to strategy consulting a feasible choice? If not, then what kind of job do people from technology backgrounds generally get post MBA?"

Diana Economy: So about 38% of our class actually goes into consulting. It's the largest percentage of the class that goes into consulting, and we do see a lot of people transitioning in particular from IT consulting to strategy consulting.

Just prior to joining Ross, I was the HR recruiting manager for one of the major consulting firms, and even then I saw, certainly, that we had candidates from Ross and elsewhere that had technology consulting backgrounds looking to transition into that space. Of course, it's something that we see in a very common way. A couple things that I would mention in terms of that transition.

First of all, one of the things that Ross has that I felt was a really distinguishing feature both as a student and now even more so–I keep hearing more and more about them as I've progressed further–is we actually have a number of peer career coaches. So Ross, the Career Services office hires 50-plus MBA II students to serve as peer career coaches for their peers. Those are folks who are going to help with writing resumes, as well as practicing for mock interviews, but those are also people who just had an internship in a space that you're very likely to be interested in.

So these are folks who may have made that exact transition from technology consulting to strategy consulting. Who are actually as peers guiding you through the process of, "What are these companies looking for? How do you take the skills that you've learned and transfer them into what these new organizations that you are looking at are interested in?" So it's been a great part of the community, and again, I think highlights some of the collaboration that you see within this community of students helping out students.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you very much. Richard asks, "Can you talk about Ross' strength in marketing, for example, internships, recruiting opportunities, competitions, etc?

Jon Fuller: That's one area that the gentleman can go look at the employment profile to see how broad and how far and wide our students go in the marketing space. Marketing, behind consulting, marketing tends to be the second largest constituent group that students come to explore and go into from an internship and a full-time perspective. So yes, students have a lot of success with that. I don't know if there's anything in particular that I can talk about, but all the large organizations that would normally come to mind would be General Mills, Proctor & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson. I know we have people in Target, PepsiCo, Kraft, SC Johnson. You name it, we have people there.

Also, they might be in sort of a marketing functional area, but they might be in a different industry as well. You have a lot of those traditional CPG heavy hitters that are the targets for a lot of candidates, but then if that's not totally your cup of tea, and you want to explore different kinds of organizations, I think again, the skill set that people develop is really applicable in a lot of different ways. Take a look at the employment profile, and you'll get a lot more granular information that way.

Linda Abraham: Sounds good. I guess the internship information is also there, like you said the club and that kind of information is on your website. Okay. So let's go to another question. Nikhi asks, "Can lesser work experience be compensated for with certifications like CFA, professional courses like chartered accountancy, which is the Indian equivalent of a CPA?"

Diana Economy: When we think about experience, we're looking at a couple things. What have you done with your career? What choices have you made? What does that progression look like? And again, what kind of impact have you had with the organizations that you've been a part of?

So as it relates to certifications, I think that they are part of your overall career story, but we're really looking for what does the whole of that experience look like; and how are you going to be able to contribute to the classroom? So a certification certainly shows dedication to your given profession, and if you're intending to stay in that profession post MBA, it certainly could be of value. However, if you're a CPA and you're looking to go into marketing, sure you're going to have picked up some of the analytical skills that a marketing career would need, but that might be where the relevance for that particular degree stops.

We really are taking a look more broadly at your experience. I wouldn't say that there's any one thing that would compensate. It really is the quality of the experience that you're able to exhibit.

Linda Abraham: Okay. I have a question for the two of you. "How is recruiting going? Are people confident about hiring both for full time positions for the class of 2013 or internships for the summer of 2013? Are you getting a lot of recruiters on campus? How is that part of the MBA experience doing at this point in time?"

Diana Economy: I can talk about that both as having been just a recent a recruiter with a big consulting firm, as well as being back on campus. I spend a lot of time talking to current students asking, "How are things going?"

For example, I was actually speaking with one of the presidents of our Indian Business Students' Association a few weeks ago in advance of my trip to India. So this is specific to an international audience. I said, "Tell me, as an international student," and this is a guy who's going to McKinsey , New York, "How's it going? How's it going for you and your peers, and are the opportunities there for people to take advantage of them?" He said, "Absolutely, Diana”. He said, "There are a lot of very competitive career paths. Certainly, it is still hard to get into," in his case, consulting. He said, "I saw a lot of success through my peers, and if they weren't successful in their internships search, just now in the last month or so, they've been successful in their full-time search."

So that's anecdotal, but this past year we had over 526 recruiters on campus across a variety of disciplines. I think that it's definitely picking up. I'm hearing people with multiple offers. I really think it's certainly incumbent upon individuals to progress their careers and to make sure they're well thought out, as you mentioned, in preparing for business school, and then of course, once they get here to be insightful into the skills that they bring and prepare. But I think the opportunities are there.

Linda Abraham: Great.

Jon Fuller: Another thing to build off of that too in talking to some of the staff is usually the pattern, at least in recent years, is someone will do their internship. They'll have their offer in hand, hopefully after they come back from their internship, and given the climate, a lot of them are like, "Okay. I'm just goinn to go ahead and take a good thing and go with it. I'm happy with that."

Some of the staff in our career services office said that they've been in some ways surprised that they'll be talking to people asking, "Well, how did your internship go?" "Oh, it went well. I got an offer." "Oh, so you're done recruiting, then?" "Well, no. I'm going to keep looking. I liked my internship experience. I'd be happy to go back to the company, but I want to keep looking and keep seeing what other opportunities might be out there for me to explore. For nothing else, I can feel better about the choice that I'm actually going to make, potentially to go back to my internship employer." Again, I think that's indicative of if the hiring market was still flat or on a downward trajectory, you probably wouldn't see that as frequently as we've seen it in this particular fall.

Diana Economy: And Linda, I think one of the things, you know, we certainly have a number of people going into a more traditional career path who are probably going to go through an on campus career search, but I think one thing you find at Ross is that there are a number of people who might be doing a more non-traditional career search. They might be looking at things that aren't what you would consider a more traditional MBA career path. I think the resources and support that we have for those folks, as well, as I mentioned, the strength of our alumni network and our alumni being so supportive of trying to assist these folks to get into the organizations, that they're truly passionate about it and have the careers that they really want. So you see a lot of that as well, and it's a very engaging community because people are truly following their passions.

Linda Abraham: Okay. I have time I think for one more question, "When you are evaluating applications, and the numbers are in the ballpark; you basically have a competitive applicant, what makes an applicant come alive for you? What would motivate you to put one applicant in the admit pile, and others in the rejected, think about later, or waitlist pile?"

Diana Economy: Authenticity. I want to see authenticity in their responses, in knowing that this is truly something that they have thought through and that that comes forth in their application, and that their application as a whole makes sense. If they're telling one story, the recommenders are telling another story, that's not going to work. This really is a full review of everything that's being submitted. We want to know who you are as an individual, as a classmate, and ultimately, as a contributor to this community. We feel very strongly about crafting a class of people who are both going to be strong academically–sure you've got the numbers down, but how are you going to lead and contribute in this class?

Linda Abraham: Great. Jon, you want to add something to that?

Jon Fuller: Yes, I would. I guess another thing that I definitely want to see within an application is passion. And it doesn't have to be for any one, particular thing, but passion and energy behind something. As I mentioned in one of my earlier comments, we have an incredibly student-driven community, and what we find is that people find outlets for things that they're really passionate about within our school. So we want to see some evidence of candidates having a high degree of enthusiasm, whether it be something in their work, or in their community involvement, or something that we can then hopefully then see translate into how that's going to make a positive impression, a positive impact on our particular community. Authentic passion, to combine the two.

Linda Abraham: That sounds good.

Jon Fuller: Yes, something that's really valuable. In terms of an application component too, I think what we really, really leverage at Ross is the interview results or the interview feedback that we get from our current students and alums. More so than essays, so the resumes, that's something that's really important as well, the interview is something that's really important to us to really get to know that individual, to hear the authentic story of where they are, where they've been, and where they want to go, and also to hear that passion come through in that interview context.

Linda Abraham: I wrote a blog post several years ago, I think I call it, "What is passion in admissions?" The formula I came up with was that passion equals commitment plus action.

Jon Fuller: I like it.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Thank you. Passion has all kinds of meanings, obviously, and I think sometimes you've got to just bring it down to Earth. So that was how I did it then. I think it still holds. Anyway, Jon and Diana, I really want to thank you for participating today. You've given great answers, and I know that the participants here today, as well as those who will be either listening or reading the transcript later on, will benefit enormously from your insight and your participation. If you have additional questions, e-mail rossmba@umich.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.

Good luck with your applications. Jon and Diana, I also want to share with you that lots of thank you’s are coming in from the participants, and they really are for you, not for me. I want to share them with you.

Jon Fuller: Thanks, everybody, for taking the time.

Diana Economy: Yes.

Linda Abraham: You're very welcome. Chris, thank you, too. I know you're listening. Good luck with your applications, everybody, and thank you once again, Jon and Diana. Have a very good evening.

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