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Wisconsin School of Business

Wisconsin School of Business

Betsy Kacizak

Betsy Kacizak, Director of MBA Admissions and Recruitment, Wisconsin School of Business

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

Our specialized MBA model. It gives you a general management MBA, plus knowledge and skills in a specific functional area of business. With the Wisconsin MBA, you build breadth and depth of knowledge so you can hit the ground running day one, which is something employers really value.

When you apply to the Wisconsin MBA, you select one of ten career specializations. Being admitted to a specialization right away gives you immediate access to industry-specific resources. For example, each specialization has dedicated space in Grainger Hall for students and staff, which we call the “center.” Each center has a faculty director, a center director with industry expertise, and support staff. You are also paired with a career coach who specializes in your particular industry. The specialization model also provides specific industry experience through consulting projects and applied learning. Many of these projects are tailored to your field of interest by industry experts and alumni who come to campus to participate and give back. This day-one focus also prepares you to stand out competitively during internship interviews.

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

Our new dean, Anne P. Massey, joined the Wisconsin School of Business on August 14, 2017. Most recently, Massey was the Dean’s Research Professor of Information Systems and the associate vice president in the Office of the Executive Vice President for University Academic Affairs at Indiana University. We are thrilled to welcome Dean Massey and look forward to her leadership and the bold vision she is crafting here.

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.)

When you submit an application, it is evaluated to make sure we have all the supporting materials, including test score, transcripts, recommendations, essays, and a résumé. We send you an email when the application is ready for review and we pass it on to the admissions committee, which consists of people on the admissions team and career specialization staff. We assign you a minimum of two independent reviewers who make admission recommendations. After those reviews, we move onto the interview stage.

Interviews are by invitation only and are done either on campus or by video, based on your preference. After the interview, your application goes back to the admissions committee for final review. We look for program fit, considering each reviewer’s comments and the interview experience. Your career passion is a big part of what we look for in program fit, because of our specialized focus.

After the final review, you receive an email notification with our decision. If you are admitted, you have a set amount of time to review and accept the admissions offer, which includes details about any merit aid offers, such as scholarships, fellowships or tuition awards.

If you are wait-listed, your application will be reviewed again in the next application period and we will keep you updated if your application status changes. Being wait-listed should not be viewed as a negative, but as a positive. It means the admissions committee has found value in your application and thinks highly of you as a candidate.

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?

We give you opportunities to showcase yourself through the recommended and optional essays, so you can share more about who you are and what makes you a great candidate. We read a lot of essays, and those that standout are authentic, clear, and concise. The best essays are those that answer the specific questions asked, in a way that shares your personality and your career vision.

For the Wisconsin MBA, it is important to be clear about your career passion and the steps you have taken toward your vision. Address why the Wisconsin MBA is important to your career advancement.

Here are some tips:

  • Write your essay and have someone you trust review and proofread. Don’t share with them the questions you are addressing and see if they can paraphrase back to you the question being asked. If yes, you did a great job.
  • Be careful if you cut and paste essay responses from one application to another. We know you are probably applying to more than one school, but obvious cutting and pasting shows a lack of attention to detail and reflects poorly on you.
  • Take advantage of the optional essay. This is your chance to address anything you feel would be useful for the admissions team to know as they review your application.

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

Essays. Start early and don’t rush. Write and rewrite your essays. This is your opportunity to showcase yourself and really make your application stand out. Have others review your essays for content, grammar and spelling, but do make sure these are your own words; don’t let others write it for you.

Recommendations. Ask people early on if they have time to write a positive recommendation. If they do, outline the timeline for completion, giving them plenty of notice. At Wisconsin, recommenders fill out an online form. You’ll be able to track progress and send reminders as you get closer to your deadline. Ideally, ask a supervisor or someone who can speak to your leadership, teamwork, and other skills in a professional setting. If you don’t want to tell your current supervisor you are thinking about a MBA, a former supervisor, client, or vendor would be other good options. If you volunteer in your community, an organization director may be appropriate.

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

We zero in on career passion and focus. As a specialized MBA program, we want to see that you have a clear view about what you want to do post-MBA, which comes through in response to why you are applying to Wisconsin.

Program fit is also important. Ideally, visit the program before you apply. This gives you a good sense of the community and what it will be like to spend two years on campus. If you can’t make it in person, do as much research as you can. Watch videos, talk to current students, and seek out alumni in your area.

How can a candidate overcome a lower GMAT score?

Having a strong undergraduate record helps, but at the end of the day, we need to be sure you can handle the rigors of the program. To address a low GMAT (or GRE) score, some candidates take coursework to show they can perform well in class, however, this can be time consuming and may not work well within your application timeline.

Consider retaking the GMAT or GRE. It is perfectly fine to have more than one score. It also shows the admissions committee your willingness to try again and put forth the effort to improve.

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

Wisconsin has a lot of resources! Our career management team works with you the summer before you start the program to help you get ready for your internship search. You will be paired with a career coach, and will have your center director to help you through the process. You will also be assigned a peer mentor from the second year class and will have access to alumni and/or advisory board members as mentors.

We start early to give you the foundation to be successful in your job search. There is specific career programming, including mock interviews and coaching sessions, to prepare you for your internship and beyond.

In addition, we have a robust on-campus recruiting program. You will have access to companies that come to campus to recruit and interview. And, since we know that not all companies come to campus, we work with you to identify opportunities and help connect you to our alumni and advisory board members. There is no limit to the amount of people interested in helping you succeed.

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