Scheller College of Business – Georgia Tech Q&A with Admissions
Katie Lloyd, Ed.D. Associate Dean, Evening and Full-time MBA Programs
How has your admissions process allowed candidates to get to know your MBA program and student community during the Covid times?
Covid-19 has forced every industry and organization to re-examine what they do and how they do it. Higher education and business schools have an unprecedented opportunity to demonstrate relevance in this volatile, quickly changing world. At the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business, we modified our prospective and current student engagement practices quickly. Our information sessions, one-on-one consultations, and student/alumni ambassador chats all transitioned to a virtual format. Candidates have many ways to engage and connect with us, wherever they are in their decision-making. Additionally, we have enhanced our digital communication. Monthly newsletters, email content, and our admitted student website have all been overhauled to provide a better experience for our prospects. We also offer virtual social activities and onboarding sessions for our admitted students.
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?
Any admitted candidate who wished to defer in 2020 was granted a deferral. We asked those candidates to let us know their plans to join the class of 2023 before we released our first round of decisions. We do not have plans to increase our enrollment for the class of 2023 or 2024.
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.)?
Our application process begins when a candidate submits their online application to Georgia Tech. After a complete application is compiled, the Institute forwards the file to the Scheller College of Business where an admissions officer conducts an initial review of the application to determine if an interview offer will be extended. Currently, we are conducting all interviews virtually. In preparation for the interview and the Admission Committee meeting that follows the interview, each of the Committee members reviews the applications. Admissions, career services, program staff, and faculty members comprise the Committee. The Committee meets one time each round to discuss the candidates’ potential for success in the program and Scheller’s ability to help them meet their career goals.
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?
We really enjoy reviewing the essay section of the application. Outside of the personal interaction with candidates, essays allow us to learn the most about applicants. Our 10 facts essay is truly a highlight, as we love seeing the unique, inspiring, and humorous items candidates choose to share.
A key essay tip: Answer the questions and be honest in your responses. There is not one answer we are seeking, and the best essays are those in which a candidate’s real voice emerges.
Common essay errors: 1) Failing to proofread; 2) Not answering the questions; 3) Omitting an explanation of a significant gap in employment or a downward trend in grades. Our additional essay provides the opportunity to provide any additional information the candidate wants the Committee to know. Don’t leave us to make incorrect assumptions.
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?
In each round, we typically interview about one third of applicants. After the initial review of the application, we extend invitations to schedule a virtual interview with one of our Admission Committee members through the Microsoft Teams platform.
Regarding tips for an online interview, I would suggest the following: 1) Log on a few minutes early to ensure the technology is working; 2) Dress professionally; 3) Come prepared having reviewed your application and Scheller MBA program information; 4) Prepare thoughtful questions for the interviewers as this is as much an opportunity for the candidate to get to know the program as it is for the Admission Committee to get to know the candidate.
In addition to the Committee members who are career services, program, or admissions representatives, we try to include a second-year MBA on the calls if a student’s schedule permits their involvement. Our second-year MBAs are trained to conduct the interviews alongside the staff members and can speak to the student experience if the candidate has any questions. The interview allows us the opportunity to assess a candidate’s match with our community. As a small program, every student makes an impact, and we want that impact to be positive and meaningful. Leadership experiences and demonstrated engagement with extracurricular and professional organizations are impressive. Finally, we love to see candidates who bring strong communication skills, intellectual curiosity, and passion to the program.
Is your MBA program test-optional for 2020-2021 and/or beyond? If yes, what other factors will you now emphasize more?
Scheller made the decision to pilot a GMAT and GRE test-optional policy for our Full-time MBA program for fall 2021. This change allows applicants to apply and be considered for the Full-time MBA program without a GMAT or GRE test score. We encourage candidates to do a self-assessment based on preferred criteria (listed on the Scheller website) for a competitive test optional applicant.
Standardized tests represent only one data point in the consideration process that goes into admitting a Scheller Full-time MBA applicant. Other factors like undergraduate performance, career progression, professional designations, certificates, and more are valuable indicators of potential success in a graduate-level business program.
Throughout the application process, our Full-time MBA team dedicates itself to evaluating the emotional intelligence, teamwork skills, problem-solving abilities, and quantitative background of each applicant. We move forward confident this change in policy will attract our most qualified, successful MBA cohort yet.
What is the one aspect of your program that you wish applicants knew more about?
The Scheller MBA career services team is beloved by our students and here are some of the reasons why: the intense level of preparation and early engagement they provide, and the extensive connections, care, and attention they offer. The support process begins in June, well before our students arrive on campus, when our students are assigned career coaches. These coaches work with them throughout the summer and school year to prepare them for the internship search process. To kick off recruiting, Scheller MBA students have 20+ hours of career workshops as a part of their orientation experience. Additional seminars and advising sessions follow to help students develop effective job search strategies, networking and interviewing skills, and high-impact resumes.
Another distinction of the program is our focus on practical application. Most of our students will complete three to five practicum courses in which they work on actual projects with corporations or non-profit organizations. The depth and breadth of this exposure prepares our students to interview effectively and to tackle on-the-job challenges.
Anything else you’d like to highlight about your MBA program or admissions process?
Scheller fosters a small, intimate environment that encourages a close-knit community in each of our MBA programs; yet, collectively, we have approximately 800 students across our three programs, creating significant opportunities for networking. Currently, we have been hosting mostly virtual professional development and social events, but we look forward to resuming our in-person traditions like tailgates, the annual spelling and geography bees, weekly get togethers, informal gatherings, trivia nights, intramural sports, Crawfish Boil, and Diwali celebration. Families and significant others are encouraged and welcome to participate.
Finally, we often mention how Scheller is strongly positioned at the intersection of business and technology. Scheller candidates do not need to have technology backgrounds or aspirations to be a good match for our MBA program; however, we do provide students who want to pursue a career within a company focused on technology the education, career opportunities, and connections to do so. About 30% of our most recent graduating class took positions in technology. The other popular post-MBA career paths for our students include brand management, analytics, finance, operations, and consulting. Our location in Tech Square in the heart of Midtown, Atlanta – a place filled with fortune-class corporations and innovation centers – gives our students unmatched access to top business leaders and opportunities for internships, professional networking, and meaningful experiential learning.