Kelley School of Business- Indiana University
Regina Funk, Associate Director of Admissions- Kelley School of Business
1) What’s the single most exciting development, change, or event happening at your MBA program this coming year?
Next year Kelley will be launching new academic program options to address student interests and corporate demand. These include the Technology Industry Intensive, which will prepare students for career opportunities in the tech sector, and a new Product Management concentration that will offer students cross-departmental coursework in marketing, negotiations, design thinking, and more.
2) What 2-3 qualities, skill sets, experiences does your program value most in applicants?
As our Dean, Idie Kesner, has often said, “Our students have the talent to succeed, the humility to grow and the tenacity to persevere.” How this translates into MBA Admissions is that we are looking for a record of academic achievement that demonstrates a capability to withstand the rigors of the classroom; a willingness to accept coaching and feedback and use it to grow and develop; and the internal strength to keep going, even in the face of struggles and setbacks. Like all programs we look for students with strong leadership, teamwork, and communication skills, but at Kelley we recognize that those skills can be gained across a wide variety of industries, as well as through volunteer and service work.
3) 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?
Our admissions team uses essays to ascertain whether or not someone understands what our program has to offer and how, specifically, a Kelley MBA would support them in their career goals. We want to learn a bit about who they are and how they would fit into the Kelley culture. Too often, applicants overthink the essay questions and get too granular on technical details or try to craft a creative piece that is unique, but often doesn’t answer the essay prompt. Keep in mind, there isn’t one right answer for an essay question and really the response should be an authentic representation of the applicant’s experiences and aspirations.
4) Do you have any application tips (for essays & recommendations) for MBA applicants?
For essays, I would tell applicants not to stare at a blank screen and wait for inspiration. They can start preparing now by jotting down notes about their promotions, team projects, and other accomplishments that may come in handy for responding to an essay prompt. It is much easier to take a few notes about things as they happen rather than try to remember details months later when there is pressure to get something written. For recommendations, I would share that it is important to ask a prospective recommender if they have the time and would be willing to write you a positive letter of recommendation. The recommendation is the only third party perspective that we have about an applicant’s professional experience so we encourage applicants to have conversation with their recommender and share with them the reasons for pursuing an MBA. This way the recommender can provide relevant examples of their work that would support those goals and add a level of cohesiveness to the overall application.
5) Are you putting additional emphasis on the GMAT versus in past years? Thoughts on GMAT vs. GRE?
While Kelley does require the GMAT or GRE as part of our holistic review, we have not put any additional emphasis on the standardized test portion of the application. There are no advantages or disadvantages to taking one test over the other.
6) What resources are available at your MBA program to assist with internship and full-time job opportunities (or to advance their Career Path)?
Kelley has a Career Services team that is made up of certified executive coaches and ranks among the best in the world. We also offer an innovative personal branding program that teaches students how to market themselves by highlighting their unique strengths, experiences and goals. These resources are key differentiators for our students, especially those looking to switch careers, and are complemented by our amazing alumni network (the largest business school alumni network in the world) that supports current students and graduates as they advance their careers.