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McCombs School of Business

McCombs School of Business

Stephen Sweeney,  Director, Full-Time MBA Admissions McCombs School of Business

What is the one area of your program that you wish applicants knew more about?

Many applicants are aware that Austin is a great place to live, however, the admissions committee often sees a gap in an applicant’s knowledge of the symbiotic relationship that the Texas MBA has with the city of Austin.  Austin is not just a great place to live because of the weather, cost of living, food, or live music.  It is also a great place to be an MBA student because of the business environment and accessibility our students have to both large companies and start-ups.  Being the state capital of the great state of Texas also offers our students opportunities to work with non-profits and government agencies.  Our students can use what they learn in the classroom and immediately apply it at a business in Austin.

What’s the single most exciting development, change, or event happening at you MBA program this coming year?

Rowling Hall is our new building for the MBA program.  We are very excited about this new space!

Walk us through the life of an application in your office from an operational standpoint. What happens between the time an applicant clicks “submit” and the time the committee offers a final decision (e.g. how many “reads” does it get, how long is each “read,” who reads it, does the committee convene to discuss it as a group, etc.)

Applications are read twice, by two different admissions committee members.  Our admissions committee acts as a committee – we meet together to discuss applicants when making decisions.

How does your team approach the essay portion of the application specifically? What are you looking for as you read the essays? Are there common mistakes that applicants should try to avoid? One key thing they should keep in mind as they sit down to write them?

For many members of the admissions committee, reading the essay portion of an application is their favorite part.  We have a robust blog post that discusses each of our essays prompts and our expectations.

We expect our applicants to approach their essays genuinely and with reflection.  Our first essay prompt is purposely open-ended.  Even the format to answering this prompt is open – an applicant can record a 1-minute video or write their response in 250 works.  Our second essay prompt asks applicants to picture themselves at their graduation from the Texas MBA.  We want to understand an applicant’s plan of attack career-wise, learn what causes he/she may be passionate about, and find out how he/she plans to develop themselves both inside and outside of the classroom.

Do you have any application tips (for essays & recommendations) for MBA applicants?

Our best tips can be found on our blog.  We cover many aspects of our application and provide details around what the admissions committee expects.  It is extremely important that each applicant knows our program well and understands how she/he will spend this very impactful two years of their lives.

What are the most important aspects of the MBA application process besides GMAT score, prior GPA and current job position?

The interview, letter of recommendation, essays, and knowledge of the program are all extremely important.  In short, we review all components of our application and all are important.

How can a candidate overcome a lower GMAT score?

We admit applicants on a wide range of GMAT scores.  I always encourage applicants to submit their application even if they have a below average score because the GMAT is just one component of the application review process.  That said, I also recommend that applicants submit their application when they feel they have their strongest application.  If an applicant thinks they can improve their test score, then I would recommend taking it again.

Applicants can overcome a below average score by excelling in other components of the application.  Hopefully, they know our program well and understand clearly how they are going to contribute to our program.

What resources are available at your MBA program to assist with internship and full-time job opportunities?

Our career services team is an amazing resource for our students.  Our students go through a career class during their first semester so resumes, cover letters, interview practice, negotiating, etc. are covered in detail.  We also have an open advising model where students can choose the career consultant that resonates most with them.  Many of our students will go to multiple career consultants.

Although we don’t allow companies to formally interview our students until the second semester, companies come to campus in the first couple weeks of school eager to speak with our students.  We have formal events like our career fair where 50+ companies come to campus to chat with our students.  We also have more informal types of events like companies coming to sponsor our tailgates before our football games.  We also have info sessions and coffee chats that fall in between these other two types of events.

This is just a few ways that our stellar career services team assists our students in their career search.

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