Q&A with Cornell Johnson’s Admission Director
Eddie Asbie, Interim Executive Admissions Director, Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management
1. How has your admissions process allowed candidates to get to know Cornell Johnson’s business school and the student community during the Covid-19 times?
Our Admissions team continues to identify effective ways to allow candidates the opportunity to learn more about our program during these challenging times due to COVID-19. We have had a lot of success attending and hosting various virtual events where candidates can connect with members of our community in small group settings or on a one-on-one basis. We have found these types of events to be very beneficial, as they provide more of an intimate experience. Candidates can also learn from some of the best and brightest faculty members by attending virtual classes. Through our events website there are a variety of classes which are tailored based on career interest, business concepts, and other relevant topics. This experience allows candidates the opportunity to learn more about our teaching style and capture a glimpse of what to expect at Johnson.
This past fall semester, we hosted three diversity events: Johnson Women in Business (JWIB), Johnson Means Business (JMB), and Johnson Military Preview (JMP) which provided a full day experience to allow applicants the opportunity to network, hear about the student experience, and learn from a variety of leaders at Johnson. We also offer various consultation regarding our One-year MBA program, opportunities in the area of Diversity and Inclusion, and Women in Leadership. Our admissions team does a great job of making meaningful connections with candidates throughout the process. To learn more about the various event offerings, applicants are welcome to review our events page or reach out to students in our Clubs and Organizations or by using our Community Search Tool.
2. What was your deferral approach for your newly admitted students due to COVID in 2020? Do you have plans for increasing enrollment for the classes of 2023 & 2024
Our deferral approach has not changed due to COVID-19. Deferral requests are considered on a case-by-case basis and typically granted for reasons of health and/or medical emergency, military service, or enrollment in a Cornell dual degree program with a defined degree sequence. Currently, we’re planning to keep the class size the same for the Class of 2023.
3. Walk us through the life of an application in your office. 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.)?
Each applicant is assigned an application coordinator who is responsible for closely managing applications and making sure all necessary documents are complete. Throughout the process, the coordinators are the main point of contact and available to answer questions. Once a candidate’s application is complete, a full and comprehensive review is conducted and includes an assessment of academic readiness, professional preparedness and fit. Members of our team spend a significant amount of time on each individual application to get a better understanding of the candidate’s qualifications. After a complete and thorough review, the committee member recommends one of the following actions: interview, waitlist without interview, or deny. For those who complete the interview, the interviewer provides a detailed write up of the individual’s candidacy and preparedness for MBA studies. The admissions committee then meets to discuss the overall profile relative to the applicant pool, which allows for a final decision. Learning more about a candidate’s background and experience is one of the most fulfilling aspects of my job.
4. 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? What is one key thing they should keep in mind as they sit down to write?
Reviewing essays are one of my favorite aspects of the application process. Completing the essays gives candidates the opportunity to share what makes them unique and share what is important to them. The first thing I look for in an essay response is whether the question has been appropriately and adequately addressed. I often remind applicants to take time to fully understand the question and map out their response first. Our school’s essays are unique, and we want to make sure candidates give questions serious thought and consideration. To give you a better sense of our essay questions, we include a goals statement, which asks candidates to focus on short- and long-term goals. In addition, we have the Impact Essay, in which we ask candidates, how they intend to make an impression during the next several years in their studies and/or career? This essay question requires candidates to complete further research about the program. A great way to answer this question is by connecting with members of our community. In the Back of Your Resume Essay we encourage applicants to think about their proudest accomplishments, interests and passions, and personal highlights. We want to get to prospective students on another level and as potential members of our community. As candidates get ready to review our essays, I recommend taking time to think of different ways they can stand out in the process. Keep in mind there is a word limit, and you will want to be thoughtful in your responses to each prompt.
5. Could you tell us about your interview process? Approximately how many applicants do you interview? Do you have any Interview tips for a Zoom call?
Our interview process is very conversational. This gives us an opportunity to get a better sense of our applicants and their motivation for pursuing an MBA. The interview is also an opportunity for candidates to tell their story and spotlight anything they feel should be elaborated on or clarified. Candidates will either meet with a member of our admissions team or our Johnson Admissions Group (JAG) and interviews typically last about 30 minutes. As candidates prepare for the interview, we want them to get excited about sharing their personal story and articulate why they are a good fit with Johnson.
Here are some helpful interview tips for a Zoom call. First, make sure you are on time. Our interviewers are typically in back-to-back interviews, so punctuality is important. Other tips include having a clear understanding regarding instructions provided. For example, how will the call be managed and who will initiate the call? Next, test your audio and video before you begin the interview. Make sure you are dressed appropriately and make sure your background and surroundings are not distracting. Make sure you are framed up well on the monitor and there is good lighting. Finally, stay focused on your interviewer and avoid any distractions (your phone, online alerts, pet, doorbell, etc.).
6. Is your MBA program test-optional for 2020-2021 and/or beyond? If yes, what other factors will you now emphasize more?
Currently, we are in discussions regarding going test optional and what they may look like.
7. What is the one aspect of your program that you wish applicants knew more about?
One aspect of the program I wish applicants knew more about is our students and alumni’s diverse career backgrounds and career paths. It is common to think that MBA students were undergraduate business majors who are only looking to go into banking and consulting, however there is a much larger story to tell. Many of our students are coming from the social sciences, engineering, medicine, computer science, education, law, the arts, accounting and other fields. As for career paths, we also see students who are interested in industries such as healthcare, real estate, sustainability or even starting their own entrepreneurial ventures. Johnson’s program offerings and leadership provides our students with the necessary tools to be successful both personally and professionally.
8. Anything else you’d like to highlight about your MBA program or admissions process?
Our MBA program allows our students to have a unique educational experience on our main campus in Ithaca, NY, as well as at the state-of-the-art Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island in New York City. At the Cornell Tech campus, we offer two popular courses: Fintech Intensive and Digital Marketing. For students interested in bridging the gap between business and the digital economy, there are outstanding options. Last year, we announced that our residential programs are now STEM designated which recognizes a path in management science with an emphasis in technology and data analytics. We believe this will be a very attractive option for international students who are eligible for a STEM OPT extension.