Q&A with Terry College of Business’ Director of MBA Admissions
Deirdre M. Kane, Ed.D., Director of Admissions, Terry College of Business
1. How has your admissions process allowed candidates to get to know the Terry College of Business and the student community during the Covid-19 times?
Obviously COVID prevented us from holding our in-person Campus Visit Days and other in-person engagements, so we maximized our virtual opportunities. I completed four seasons of a podcast, Dawgs on Top, that started last April, which covered topics related to the program, the University, and Athens itself, through discussions with students, staff, faculty, and community leaders. We also hosted a series of live webinars with current students and staff, all of which are publically available here. We participated in virtual events held by QS World MBA Tour and The MBA Tour. We revamped our MBA Ambassadors program web page. Candidates can connect directly with an Ambassador through our website or meet with them for virtual coffee chats. Also, beyond contacting the office by phone and email as always, they can schedule a 1:1 with a member of the Admissions staff. We have tried to make ourselves and the program as accessible as possible during this time.
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
We did what we always do – we made every effort to be flexible on reply deadlines and offered deferrals to our international admitted students who were unable to travel and join the program. As for enrollment, ours has been steadily increasing over the last few years and Fall 2020 was no exception – we enrolled our largest, most diverse, and most qualified class in a decade and I am hoping that the Fall 2021 class is a little larger. Our efforts to increase enrollment have gone hand-in-hand with our attention to the level of support and service our students receive.
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.)?
We have an online application. When someone submits, they are randomly assigned to one of our MBA admissions staff readers who reviews the application thoroughly (and holistically) and recommends whether or not to interview that candidate. After all applications are read in each round, the Admissions Committee reviews those recommendations and determines who we invite to interview. Interviewees meet with a different staff member (not someone who read their application or interacted with them previously) – virtually, of course, right now – for their formal interview. The interviewer submits their evaluation of the candidate with a recommendation of whether to admit, waitlist, or deny that candidate. Once all interviews are completed, the Admissions Committee convenes again to review the candidates for that round, along with any waitlisted candidates, and issues decisions. After admission decisions are made, the Committee conducts a second review to issue merit aid awards. The criteria for these awards is the same as for admission: a holistic review of a candidates capabilities by giving balanced consideration to experiences, attributes and academic metrics to determine how the individual will contribute value to the program.
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?
My advice for the essays is always simple: answer the question. But more specifically, this year we have two required essays and an optional essay. The first essay is an opportunity for the candidate to reflect on who they are, what they have learned from their experiences, what has influenced their decisions to this point, and how all of that has shaped why they want an MBA and why. Through the second essay, we want to learn about how the candidate has positively impacted a person or an organization. We place a lot of emphasis on collaboration, community, and engagement in our program, and this second essay gives us an idea of how each candidate would be involved as a student. There are a few mistakes to avoid: not using specific and detailed examples, not writing a well-organized essay with a clear thesis and supporting ideas, and not proofreading carefully.
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?
Last fall, we offered a webinar on Application Tips with two of our current students, so that’s a great place to start – the link to all of those webinars is in the first response above. But in short, a Zoom interview is just as important as an in-person interview, but with the added complexity of technology. Besides preparing well by knowing your resume and application inside and out, you also need to dress appropriately, find a quiet spot with good lighting, and test your tech before the call. And be on time!
b. We generally interview about 30% of our applicants.
6. Is your MBA program test-optional for 2020-2021 and/or beyond? If yes, what other factors will you now emphasize more?
For Fall 2021, we are offering a limited number of GMAT/GRE waivers to candidates who meet several eligibility requirements (an advanced degree, 2+ years of work experience, professional credentials, strong performance in quantitative coursework, for example). We also still offer waivers to U.S. military personnel. For Fall 2022, that policy will change slightly and we will only consider U.S. military and those with advanced degrees for waivers – but that won’t guarantee a waiver, either.
Even with this waiver policy, our evaluation process and methodology for reviewing candidates has not changed at all.
7. What is the one aspect of your program that you wish applicants knew more about?
Candidates are often surprised by how much we offer – for project opportunities, leadership development, community engagements through projects, community service, and our Non-Profit Board Fellows program, accomplished and well-respected faculty, and a high level of career support from an incredible group of staff dedicated to the success of our students. We place a high premium on the quality of the student experience and our supportive student culture. Faculty and staff know every student by name and everything we do in Admissions is to ensure that all of that continues with each class we enroll.
8. Anything else you’d like to highlight about your MBA program or admissions process?
The final comment I will add is what our students tell me: our program gives them the opportunities they need, both academically and professionally, to achieve their goals, succeed in their job search, and develop as a person and professional – the same as any other top MBA program – and they get to live in a great college town and earn their MBA at a much lower cost. They leave this program knowing they can compete on an equal level with anyone else.