Our second in this series of conversations from the CentreCourt MBA Festival include candid insights from the MBA Admissions gatekeepers at Harvard Business School, Kellogg Northwestern, UT Austin McCombs and EGADE in a panel hosted by Fortuna’s Matt Symonds.
Topics range from admissions responses to Covid-19, deferrals for admits, extracurricular leadership during the pandemic, what they’re seeking in candidates and why interview prep is essential.
The CentreCourt MBA Festival – in its debut virtual format – brought together the Admissions Directors, Career Services Directors and Deans from all 25 of the world’s top business schools on April 28, 29 & May 5. More than 3,000 MBA hopefuls around the world tuned in online to view and participate in its dynamic panels and discussions.
Fortuna Admissions Co-founder and Director, Matt Symonds, partnered with Poets&Quants to host the event. This is one of the six Admissions Director panels Matt convened and hosted, capturing perspectives and advice from:
- Kate Smith, Kellogg
- Chad Losee, HBS
- Rodrigo Malta, McCombs
- Eric Porras Musalem, EGADE (Mexico)
You can view their entire conversation above or read the transcript below for their reflections.
Matt Symonds, Fortuna Admissions (host): I’ve been looking forward to this panel a long time. This has proved to be quite a year. Normally you’d have been sort of finished with round three applications or the 2+2 applications and be making summer plans. But it didn’t quite turn out that way. Kate, perhaps we can start with you, and what you’ve been seeing in recent weeks and months.
Kate Smith, Kellogg: Thank you, I think for all of us, we can certainly acknowledge that these are unprecedented times like none of us have ever experienced before. I certainly, on behalf of everyone here, hope that all of you who are listening in today are healthy and safe with your
friends and family. We experienced the impact of the Coronavirus on our team here in the month of March. And I’m thrilled to report that everybody is on the mend and healthy and back in action. But you know, to just acknowledge how this can be really uncertain and an unfamiliar situation for everyone. So, we’ve all converted to working from home.
I’m coming to you from my home just 10 minutes from our Kellogg campus in Evanston and we’re working virtually, as I think everyone is. And we have quickly adapted to a virtual learning environment at Kellogg, a quick pivot – we were pleased that we had prior experience, where faculty had been very much innovating and exploring different technology tools. And so, our pivot to an online learning environment for our students was one that our students have reported has surprised them in a positive way. It was better than they expected it in terms of being able to come together, connect, engage in a classroom environment, break out into different class, breakout rooms and Zoom. So, the technology has been an enabler that has allowed the community to continue to connect. At Kellogg, we are very much a community of peers and faculty and students and staff and alumni who support and engaged with each other. So it has been really nice to see the community rally in these challenging times and to support one another. So you know, just excited to join everyone today and to talk about the impact as we all will on the admissions cycle which has been certainly unique as well.
Matt: Kate, even in a typical year, of course you receive thousands of applications, lots of individual stories, and you’re understanding their personal motivations. This year has required a
level of empathy, flexibility as you go through. So perhaps just take us through. You know we had the first hints after round 2 and the need to now organize Skype video interviews. Of course, Kellogg is very proactive with interviewing applicants, and those are just the first signs and you know where the virus has taken us since then. So talk us through what you’re seeing for the fall.
Kate: So, in terms of the experience that candidates are having now, we’ve all adapted. I think all of us here in the panel. To a virtual engagement model, where you know we’re going to be conducting interviews via as you said virtual platform. We’ve offered and created virtual class visit opportunities that kind of replicate the campus visit experience that we typically would host, that dozens of interested candidates to our campus over the course of the year. And so, until we’re allowed to return to an in-place model, we are prepared to welcome students to virtual campus visits. We have a virtual campus tour. As you prepare for the application journey, you can engage in all the ways that we’ve always encouraged applicants to engage.
Kellogg is a very connected community and so very responsive to those are interested in learning about it. So if you are interested in learning more about Kellogg, you can reach out to us at the admissions office. Or if you have anyone in your personal network that you can connect with, a current student, alumni. We have offered virtual tools for you to learn about the Kellogg experience at our you know on our website, with our virtual tours and other virtual engagement formats. But you can also seek to engage in dialogue, just picking up the phone and in the old-fashioned way or getting on a Zoom call and talking to an alum, or a current student who has always been very interested in sharing their experiences with candidates.
As you’re considering applying to business school this fall, while we are facing this uncertainty and these new challenges, I think that the core of what we offer to students and their community engagement is as vibrant as ever.
And you should feel very encouraged and enabled to opt into these experiences as you’re exploring. The schools are very interested in it.
Matt: Yes, we’ll be talking about sort of before versus those planning for perhaps next year and years beyond that. And you just got used to that wonderful Global Hub, and now we’ve all been sent home. But Rodrigo, it’s great to have you in from Austin. And of course, such a dynamic. Every time I go there, the skyline’s changing, there are new tech giants setting up major offices. What have you seen over the last two three months and how you’re managing the intake for the fall?
Rodrigo Malta, UT McCombs: Yes, to build on what Kate said – uncertainty is really at the center of a lot of the anxiety. Both on the applicant’s side, but our current students as well. So as we went into Spring Break as the Covid pandemic hits full force, we shifted to remote learning classes. So we’re able to deliver over 500 courses to over 6,000 students. That pivot happened pretty quickly and pretty successfully. I think that, as you look at top business schools, like the ones in this panel, you’ll see that great faculty members and content they deliver it is effective remotely as it is in person. So we’re seeing the students excited about being able to engage in a time where there’s so much uncertainty and negativity. It’s nice to have that community is something to come back to.
That uncertainty produces so much anxiety to our applicants, in perspective students. What I want to say is that we’re here to help. And the missions for all of our teams is to make sure their applicants are putting their best foot forward as they go through the application process. So just because you’re socially distant, that’s the meaning that you need to be disconnected.
So, as Kate has mentioned, we’ve moved everything virtually. So, we’re here to help you. From an applicant perspective, from prospective student perspective, we know how to build a new application for the upcoming fall. We’ve moved all of our interviews online and we’re planning to be doing virtual events through the summer and the fall. We hope to reopen in the fall, but if that’s not the case, we had some great learnings over the past two to three months and are ready to push forward as we entered the next admission cycle for the following fall as well.
But I think the biggest thing that I want to leave with the folks that are tuning in is to let them know that we’re here for you. You will need to be a little bit patient, in that, patient with yourself because you’re not going to be able to do the things that you plan to do, nor the way that you plan them to do. And it’s okay. You know, we’re here. We’re all going through this together. And to the extent possible, reach out to us through LinkedIn, through the website, through so many different types of social media and connect with us so it can help you out.
Matt: As you remind us, this is for the entire industry. And I’ve always enjoyed working with so many dedicated professionals in the admissions office. That patience, you know
your efforts to respond, taking on different working conditions, and you know how you look to stay connected with the candidates. Well, we’ll be looking at some of the mechanics that have actually been applied to your schools later on in in the panel. From an international perspective, of course, the Coronavirus is having a different impact across Asia, Latin America, Europe and so on. So Eric, from what you’re seeing at EGADE, how have the last two or three months impacted both the school, at that sense of a close-knit community, and how you getting through this?
Eric Porras Musalem, EGADE: Similar to my colleagues mentioned, of course unprecedented moments… we’ve had a unique period. We had to move very fast to close that period. In a matter of two days, we moved all classes online. It was really a huge effort for the whole University. In particular, for the EGADE schools. We tried to train professors to use new technologies and moving very fast to deliver all content online and to assign activities in a way a little bit different from face to face.
In the admissions process we also moved everything online. Actually, we do have a running admission all year long, so we’ve just continued with that process. But we move everything online. Interviews online, also exams were moved to online. We were able to have an intake in April, over 200 students in the middle of covid, so that was really something great. We look forward to having also a great cohort for fall this year, and spring next year. So we have admissions in April, September, running admissions process. So we expect prospect students are really seeing this as an opportunity to get in contact with us as something we can offer. We also invite students to see how we are conducting classes online. We have virtual tours on campus. Of course, we are ready to come back any moment that lockdown is over. But at least for the time being, we continue to provide all the value.
Matt: Interesting to see how that that sense of and flexibility and adaptability. And as we look at some of the characteristics that you as admissions officers are looking for in applicants, but you know how quickly the current cohorts have embraced these very different conditions. Now of course, Harvard Business School invented the case method what 99 years ago. You got to
experience that for yourself Chad. Seven or eight years ago as an MBA student at HBS. A big challenge, of course moving everything virtual. And how has the school navigated that and the general response you’ve had? Chad from the HBS perspective and you know continuing to deliver the case method and that sort of versatility that both faculty and students have required.
Chad Losee, HBS: It’s great to be here. Thanks everyone for joining us. So, with respect to the case method, I think a lot of schools use this, and the way that we’ve done the transition at Harvard is similar to what’s been talked about by any my colleagues. And I think one of the things that’s really helped is just how engaged everyone feels in the message. And in the cases that they’re discussing and how they recognize the things that they’re learning, and the business problems that you discuss really applying. I think sometimes you look back on your undergraduate days and you wonder sometimes, why are we doing this how am I going to apply this later on?
And I think the pandemic that we’re all living through really speaks to the value of business education. At any of our schools, we’re learning about leadership, and we’re learning about how to make decisions with imperfect information.
There’s a lot of that going around right now, and I think what our students are practicing every day in our classrooms is business problems that don’t have black and white answers, but you have to sort of listen very intently to other people’s perspectives and try take the best decision.
And so, in addition to what my colleagues have talked about, I’ve been really impressed by what MBA students around the world have been doing to try to contribute to the ongoing crisis and to try to address it. At Harvard, some of our students, there’s a group of them that put together an organization called Livelihood, that is delivering things to people who are in lockdown that can’t get out, that are vulnerable. And there’s a there’s a group that has been started called MBAs Fight Covid 19, that has engaged students from around from business schools all around the world to consult with small businesses that are really struggling with you know decrease in demand. There’s another group of students that have banded together – in the U.S. there was a stimulus check paid to many families around the world, and so they’re rallying people to donate their stimulus checks if they don’t need it for themselves personally to businesses and nonprofits. So, I think both in and out of the classroom I’ve been really impressed by how MBA students around the world. They’re just really being ingenious and empathetic and trying to support their communities, their families, their countries as we all go through this really challenging time. And that’s really the case method in action.
Matt: Yes, I think you perhaps draw on some of those classes that you took a few years ago. And I remain convinced that it is going to be business school students among others that are coming up with solutions beyond our political leaders. That seems to be that energy that you’re describing. Now of course in with what you’re all describing and that adapting to the current conditions, that has also had an impact for all of you on the intake for the fall of 2020. And we certainly have many viewers you know with questions about that – should I now throw my hat into the ring?
You know we used to talk should it be GMAT or GRE. Now we’re talking about should it be at home versus waiting for test centers to open. Perhaps Chad, just with that sense of it also a leap of faith but you know if you’ve already completed your two rounds of admissions for the intake for the fall and had a fascinating session with the Dean and colleagues last week to say you know we will accept deferrals. Perhaps you can talk us through you know what the policy is and just perhaps your message for those looking at joining you in the fall.
Chad: Yes, so this year I think every school has to respond differently. I think we tried to look at a different range of things to support students coming in. And what we felt just fit best for us and for our community was to allow people to defer. Which means that the students who were admitted in round one around to are able to let us know if they would like to defer to a future year of admission. One of the things that we said is although we’re open to a deferral and anyone can request it, we were very upfront and transparent that we may not be able to accommodate everyone in one year’s time. So, we’ll be spreading those deferrals over the next two years, depending on how many to four requests come in later this month.
And we did that with an eye toward the people who are applying in the future here. We recognize that people might be worried about how many spots might be available at the school or what kind of financial aid would be available. So we’re committed. We have a need-based financial aid policy; we’re committed to that and to supporting current students and future students with the same levels of support based on their need. And then we’re trying to preserve as many spots as we can for future classes and also starting discussions with the university about the overall capacity of the school. So we’re trying to do right. I mean, I don’t think there’s any easy decisions that any of us are facing now, at home, or at work, or anywhere. And I think as we discussed and debated the decision around deferral, we were trying our best to balance the needs of current students and those we’ve recently admitted, alongside those who like many of you may be thinking about applying in future year. And we hope you do choose to apply to one of our schools, or as you get to know these schools close that what are you looking for in a business school program.
Matt: And with that, since of course the school has historically in recent years enjoyed an 89-90-91 % yield into the program, you know you’ve talked about that leap faith. There is so much uncertainty out there and the idea, whether you’re with us on the campus in Boston and then pursuing the next two years versus you know other conditions that you might face it, do you get a sense that many will finally resolve to join you in September?
Chad: I think they’re thinking about that now. The way we reinstall policy a little over a week ago, we’ve held virtual sessions for the incoming students and try to answer their questions. And then we’ve given them a month to think about it and we’ve encouraged them to take their time and their personal situation. We haven’t mentioned this yet, but many people around the world are facing employment challenges. Here in the U.S. over 25 million people have filed for unemployment. It’s a really challenging time on many fronts. Many of our students are directly affected and their families certainly are as well. And so they’re thinking about the support that they want to lend to their families as well and they may need to lend. So we’re encouraging them to be really thoughtful over the next few weeks and make a decision that’s right for them.
We’re also encouraging them to recognize the valuable kind of learning that people can have in and out of the classroom at this time. I think all of the schools represented here are going to be teaching and learning real-time writing cases and responding and recognizing how businesses are responding and training students to learn how to respond in this crisis and in future crises that they’ll face. So we’re trying to just provide as much information as we can and let students make the best decision for themselves.
Matt: Right. Kate, unprecedented circumstances. And as Chad mentioned, you know each
institution already you know the dialogue that you have with applicants and with admits is on a very individual personal basis. Case by case. So perhaps talk us through both you know the policy, extended deadlines that you’re working with for the Fall. And also perhaps beyond that we can talk about the Future Leaders program for those seniors in college that are looking to join a program two, three years from now. But just starting perhaps with the admits for the Fall 2020.
Kate: Absolutely. So like Chad shared, and I know we, and all of the MBA programs around the world pivoted quickly. You know Kellogg has always valued empathy as a core value among our community members and it’s actually something that we place high emphasis on in our community, in our engagement, in our collaborative culture. So as we all went through this massive immediate disruptive moment, we heard from so many applicants a bit of despair. In terms of, “I had plans to apply in round three. I was going to take the test again or for the first time and now it’s not available…”
You know, those themes were all unfolding in February to March. In terms of the disruption, the closure of countries, the borders, of travel restrictions, of visa restrictions. So all of these concerns are impacting our applicants around the world. So we took a step back and asked, okay, what feels right in terms of really staying true to our empathetic core?
And the first thing in choice that we made, which I think most schools, made was to extend that round three deadline. To accommodate for the fact that in that very moment there was no opportunity for a candidate to kind of see through the application they were probably planning to submit. As well as everyone was transitioning into a work from home situation or very disrupted work transition. Or, as Chad referenced, disruption to employment and might be losing a job. So just pumping the brakes for a second and saying, okay, how can we help all of these candidates? We extended our round three deadline to June 1st.
We also announced that we would waive test requirements for this extended round three. And our decision to do that was born in the fact that we have always holistically reviewed candidates at Kellogg and actually did not believe that the absence of this test score would be a material factor that would hurt our ability to choose exceptional talent for Kellogg.
And so, because we’ve always holistically reviewed candidates, we felt like it was the right thing to do because there was inequity and access around the globe. There are certain countries right now while the online tests have come online now, there are certain countries around the globe who still cannot take the test. And we just felt you know such the sort of the emotional outpouring of, ‘wait! I don’t have this opportunity that I was planning to pursue available to me.’ So while Kellogg will still accept the online test scores, so you will accept the regular test scores, online test score. But for this extended round 3 through June, we’re giving anyone the option to say, I just don’t have access to take a test. Some people don’t have reliable internet access or the computers that they need in their home to take this online test.
We just wanted to be equitable to all in this really unusual moment in time. So those are some of the steps we’ve taken.
As well as Chad said, we will be considering all of the deferral requests on a case-by-case basis for our current admitted students in terms of really seeking to understand how each student’s situations are unique, in terms of their ability to potentially get to Evanston to start their cohort. And we are working one-on-one with each admitted student to really put together a plan for tracking if they have visa challenges or travel challenges. Working with them to allow them to come to campus when we are open on the timeline that’s going to work for them, with a virtual start option and an in-person option is our goal. So that’s our plans for the fall.
For Kellogg Future Leaders, we are thrilled to have introduced this program, which is a deferred enrollment program. You know HBS I think might have been the pioneer with the 2+2 format. And so as we’ve over the years heard and seen the interest in the MBA has grown from undergraduate populations. We thought this is just an exceptional opportunity for Kellogg to also participate in deferred enrollment. What’s unique about Kellogg is we have always believed that the MBA format is not one-size-fits-all. So we have four different full-time formats, from our one year program, to your program and to dual degree programs. As well as our evening weekend and EMBA format, Executive MBA formats.
And as a result of this, any admitted students to the Kellogg Future Leaders deferred enrollment program can work with us on their way to matriculation. So we are asking them to matriculate anywhere from three-to-five years is an ideal window. So we’ll work with them on an annual basis and track their progress towards the date they plan to enroll. But then we can work with them for them to choose which program fits best with their goals. And so that’s the piece from the evening weekend to the fulltime portfolio that we offer. So we’re excited that that deadline for application is June 3rd, and that is our first intake for the deferred enrollment program.
Matt: Of course, Roderigo, it’s always a great personal decision. When is the right time for me to go to a business school, those seniors in college, looking at the Future Leaders program, the 2+2? Those that are three four years out. As you look I think a lot of people are asking themselves, well you know should I move mountains to apply for the fall versus wait for next year, which might be a very busy and selective year. What would your advice be to those individuals to help them through the thinking process?
Rodrigo: My advice to that question has always kind of remained the same, even in these tough times, which is: apply when you’re ready. You will know when you’re ready. Now give yourself space to be ready now a little bit earlier than you were before, if that’s the case because of what might have happened and your professional and personal life. And also give yourself to the space to apply later if you that’s when you feel you’re going to be able to put your best foot forward. But always, making sure that you apply when you’re feel ready to go is key.
One thing that I’ll say, you are never going to be admitted if you don’t apply. So putting your name in the hat and being vulnerable is really big.
All of the schools on this panel and top business schools around the world appreciate reapplicants, folks that may have taken a shot at it and not being admitted and then come back with a stronger application, listening to the advice over admissions officer students and alumni.
It does not hurt to put yourself out there and give it a try. But do it when you feel ready right and we’re here to help you. We’re here to support you along the way. If it’s applying now for entry this coming fall, or the future entry points as well.
Matt: And for those that do decide that now is the right time, you’ve given external factors and conditions put together. Again how do you show that sort of understanding of the current context? Whether it’s the provision of online tests, you know some people are struggling even you know with the idea of home-based testing for GMAT and GRE, reaching out to recommenders. They might need transcripts. Many factors, what would your advice or reassurance be perhaps?
Rodrigo: Yes. So, at Texas McCombs we have extended the deadline for entry in the fall. We also have a test exception petition that you can submit to possibly waive the test requirements in the application, depending on the different situations. Make sure that you make the connections with your personal and professional networks in getting ready for their application. And trying new things. Be resilient and patient with yourself as you explore, maybe there are home testing options. Writing an essay in the house that is alive with little ones for one’s significant others, working in the room like stores and conference calls all day is very different than going into a library writing your essays. But be patient with yourself, be resilient and put that best foot forward.
Most of the schools in the panel if not all and most top business schools do you have an interview component to their application. And that is a great time for the applicants to come and be really transparent in the situation that they face has it applied to business school. So there is going to be space in the application for you to tell your story.
And guess what, everybody’s story is going to be impacted by what happened in the past couple months. It happened to everyone, and how you react to it is the only thing you can control. And as admissions officers, we’re really excited to hear what that story is like.
Matt: Rodrigo speaks to resilience and thoughtfulness. Eric, from one of the top international business schools perspectives, as you look at the characteristics that you like to see in any application, whether it’s this year next year or future years. What sort of guidance or advice would you share for those that are looking to apply to EGADE.
Eric: Of course, we are passing through difficult times. And we expect all prospective students to get to know this our school and what we have to offer. But also we want to have on board leaders, prospect leaders who are really aligned with our own mission.
We look for leaders who really have this transformational mindset, who are ready to make an impact in society. Not only, for example, making impacts for corporate business or creating new businesses. We call the larger idea of cutting or entrepreneurial business leaders, going from startups those making maybe innovations also incorporate environments or so on. We would like to see also things that are not only present in there, for example resumes or CV’s. But prospective students tell us what they think about the society, what do they think they can transform society, what kind of skills they have put in practice, what kind of personal experiences they might have passed that show us what kind of leaders they would be. And that alignment with our mission I think is a very important for us. So the share value creating this share value for not only the small stakeholders but the stakeholders at large in our society. That kind of mission is important for EGADE. And we looked at in the admission process, of course in interviews with the admission prospects and so on. That’s a more or less what we what we see in our prospects.
Matt: Great. Chad, you’ve had to sharpen your own negotiating skills to get 60 minutes of bandwidth in your family. Rodrigo spoke to almost like a coded attitude. You know here we are in such different conditions. But we’ll still see a merge, you know those that find a way as you are describing some of the very powerful ways that both the student community of HBS and beyond have looked to provide support in the community. So maybe as we just look at some of those characteristics, you welcome 930 extraordinarily diverse and talented individuals, there’s no one fit. But just perhaps talk us through you know applying to school and the sort of characteristics that you like to see.
Chad: Yes. I think sometimes the question is asked like well what is different this year? And I think it’s also useful to ask what’s the same.
There are things that we’re always going to look for, in and out of any kind of global situation. And those are for us, people who have a habit of leadership, or analytically minded, and really like to problem-solve and those who are community oriented. We think that that combination of things irrespective of what you studied or what kind of work experience you have or what country you’re coming from, those are common attributes that we like to see in people who are applying.
Just building on what Rodrigo and others have said, I think especially in this time, I think for many of you this is the first time if you graduated from college in the last 12 years. You’ve probably only worked and depending on the part of the world that you’re in. But in many parts of the world, this has been a good economy for 10 to 12 years. And this is a really challenging time employment wise and public health wise. And thinking about how you want to respond to that as an individual – what you’re going to do for yourself and what you’re going to do for your team and your company or your organization. I think is really important and I think words like resilient, ingenuity, resourcefulness, investing in others, listening, empathy.
I think we truly want to hear your authentic stories from this experience and how you’re responding. I think as others have said, in a crisis like this, I think you’re really tested, and you get to learn a lot about yourself. So, as you go through these experiences, I would encourage you also to be introspective.
Whether that’s having a friend that you have some like biological engagement with, or journal writing or whatever it is, try to learn about yourself as you go through this process as well. Those reflections that you do will be helpful as you think about your admissions application. What truly makes you tick, the kind of difference you want to make in the world. And if you can be honest with yourself and honest with us about those things, that will really help us get to know you better. And help us understand our incoming classes.
Matt: You talk about analytical skills, the curiosity, that sort of self-awareness and empathy. Of course, whether it’s the 2+2, who was you know hoping to now join the Peace Corps and head off to West Africa or enjoying a consulting firm. Your plans have changed beyond their control. GMAT and GRE have moved online, so perhaps even just reassuring the audience of the empathy you then use the individual your team and the admissions office to understand that those different contexts.
Chad: Yeah, let me give one specific example. We’ve received a lot of emails from college students who are planning to apply in our 2+2 deferred enrollment –about their grades this semester and worried that their colleges have moved to pass/fail and are we going to look down on that. No, we are not.
I think we will all understand that this semester, this time period has a big asterisk next to it. And we’re all trying to do our very best.
We understand you don’t have time, you don’t have the free movement that you normally have. I think just do your best with the time and the space that you have. Being sure to make sure you’re taking care of yourself and your family. Throughout all of this. we definitely understand as we’re individuals too, we’re going through the pandemic. We’re working from home; we’re trying to negotiate with kids and pets and like everyone else. So we definitely understand where you’re coming from and we’ll take as we do all of that into account, as we holistically review your applications.
Matt: And holistic is a word that you began with, Kate. Of course, if you are looking to wait. I mean it sounds too good to be true to apply to one of the world’s top business schools and not have to go through 75 minutes of data sufficiency. But there are other ways for you to ensure that whether it’s analytical skills, the different characteristics that Kellogg is looking for. So it’s not like it’s a free pass.
Kate: No, absolutely. I mean, we have done a lot of analysis on the correlation of a test score to the academic and then career success of our graduates. And it is not the only requirement that predicts success. Looking at so many qualities in a candidate is what we have always done. And we place high value on you know those who can motivate and lead teams, those who see you know to deconstruct problems with creativity and critical thinking, and are able to apply analytical skills in their analysis, but also able to connect and communicate and inspire others through what we would really define as leadership attributes that can motivate and inspire those around them.
And as I referenced earlier, there are sense of community and collaboration and our value of empathy are things those are you know attributes of people that we are always seeking to evaluate. Kellogg has always sought to interview as many candidates we possibly can. I think we’re unique in that in that approach, and our belief is that the full 360 person is able to present themselves through all the aspects of the application. We are looking through every component, every component we include in that application we review thoroughly and are considering all attributes.
We have high degree of confidence that we’re going to be able to identify the same caliber and high you know sort of engaged and motivated individuals to come the Kellogg community in light of some of these unique circumstances.
And as Chad said, you know all of us acknowledging what’s different now and pivoting in the moment to be able to continue forward in our mission, which is to educate in advance our students in their careers and to give them a foundational business-business education. But ultimately, at times I think should be really defined as a leadership education where you are putting together a full tool toolkit in your time at Kellogg to go out, lead, and make a difference in the world and in the organizations that our graduates pursue.
Matt: Rodrigo, I’d like to come to you in just a moment to talk about next year. And you know this is busy enough and next year you know we might see a huge uptick in in applications. But before I do, Eric I just wanted we’ve talked about one-year two-year programs, two plus two, Future Leaders, seniors applying for the full-time MBA program. EGADE is also very much engaged in the executive MBA market. And of course, you’re part of the one MBA consortium that spans four continents. Again, understanding people’s conditions – they may have thought that they were going to be a company sponsored going into the MBA. So perhaps just speak to applicants at the Exec. MBA level, how you then contextualize and understand the very different and changing conditions family and professional that they all face.
Eric: Yeah, this is a very important question Matt. Because of course not all prospects – and not all our applicants are in the same moment in their career path, in the level of seniority. For example, so we understand that of course as one of my colleagues was saying, we don’t think that one MBA fits all size. For our students, prospects students, so we have different MBA program the full-time MBA. Of course, is for students who have just maybe three or four years of experience. But for more senior advanced prospects, we do have two Executive MBA programs. The one MBA and Executive MBA that we have in partnership with University in Arizona State. We do have these admissions for students who are seeking for Executive MBA programs and they have to tell us, of course, what are the career paths that they are pursuing. And we try always to accommodate the best program for the particular feature that any applicant might have.
So yeah, we have been very successful in the executive programs, our MBA Executive MBA programs have already many years we have been put in place. This is a great part of our where I think strengths for the EGADE business school. That we can offer different options for students seeking for MBA education, not only one type of program.
Matt: Thank you, Eric. I’m receiving many, many questions coming in. Thank you, keep sending in those questions. It makes me realize one of them has asked about where can I find in Kellogg’s one-year MBA class profile versus the two years. I think Kate will be able to handle that in in the chat session I’m sure later on. I just wanted to say personally I think that you’re all doing a tremendous job also communicating in such difficult times and that your websites. You know do have an enormous amount of ongoing and updated information about decisions that you’re making, the policies that you’re putting in place and certainly encourage everybody that’s following this session to refer to the respective school websites.
Now Rodrigo, you know this is an exhausting year and the summer will come and then of course you’ll be thinking about next year. And several of the questions we’ve had coming in are trying to anticipate historically, we’ve always seen with economic downturns or financial crises the canter cycle and many people applying it for next year work. So what are your predictions for the year ahead and what that might mean for selectivity?
Rodrigo: Looking at the Roderigo Crystal Ball, which is not very accurate, so that is the disclaimer. You know I think we’re going to go into the summer and early fall, they see still a lot of uncertainty. From our side the admissions office, we will be as transparent as possible going into the next admission cycle. Sharing application deadlines early on, making sure that we’re as clear as possible around application requirements, really monitoring developments around testing centers and reopening all the economies, reopening off campuses.
We talked about the fact that we went fully virtual, so we have that down, we have that infrastructure, we have that framework. So that’s going to be there and it’s going to be a matter of hopefully, when the pandemic subsides, we can start to reopen campus and build other engagement opportunities.
And for the applicants, start planning now. I feel like the way to manage uncertainty is having a plan A, having a plan B, being resilient, being patient, and you can do that right now. Our application requirements you know be sharing continue to share with you.
I don’t foresee the major changes. Anticipating central reopening coming up soon. So it’s a matter of preparing and again applying when you feel the most ready.
Matt: So would you look at an applicant that hasn’t or would prefer to take a GMAT or GRE test in a test center rather than at home? And have them apply and look conditionally but their profile and then wait for GMAT or GRE school?
Rodrigo: For us, we don’t have a preference between the test that’s taking at the test center versus that at home option. We do understand that the at home environment is not the same as the testing center. We have individuals that need special accommodations where it’s not possible for them to take their test at home. Their home environment that they have might not be as quiet or the internet might not be as strong. And the test itself changes the dynamic changes as well. So if you were planning to take the test at a testing center and you’re testing at a high level, and you come in and your test score are lower than you are expected, that’s okay. We have an optional essay any place on the application where you can explain the situation around your testing environment and let us know what happened there. From our perspective, we will commend you for being brave and putting yourself out there and taking that chance. And we’ll see, how things are – you’re not the only one in that particular situation.
We don’t wouldn’t have a preference, one versus the other. If anything, we’ll take that at-home test score with a little bit more grace knowing that the environment might not be the same as a test center environment.
Matt: Rodrigo, the chances are your crystal ball is as good as any of our crystal balls. Chad I’m sure that’s equally true. Now you’ve spoken Chad with your clarity about a deferral policy and not knowing at this point how that will play out. Whether it’s for U.S. domestic applicants or internationals admitted for the fall. You did mention earlier that there would be over a two-year period to best be able to accommodate those individuals. We inevitably get a lot of questions around applications for next year. You already received nine and a half thousand applications for 930 places. And I guess the concern is twofold, one you know might we expect to see a significant increase in applications and concerns about if there are already deferred applicants next year there will be fewer places to compete for that that’s a reality. I suppose one quick question.
You’re not going to increase the incoming class size for the Fall of 2021, are you?
Chad: So those are discussions we’re having right now. Those will take time to unfold. Let’s require the University and a lot of other stakeholders, but we are having those discussions. I guess my plea to everyone listening is I think it’s very tempting.
And I remember being an applicant to business school as well. It’s very easy to focus on everyone else who is applying. And I think there’s some danger in that. You might forego opportunities that are actually yours. Rodrigo said this well, you’ll never be admitted if you don’t try.
I think the other danger about worrying about who else might be applying is that you will start to shape your application about who you’re not instead of who you are. And I think the application process requires a lot of reflection and it’s in some ways kick-starting your education. This leadership education will take back without and so if you’re really focused on getting to know yourself and what your goals are and what you want to accomplish with the business program, I think you’ll be much better you’ll be much more successful in the application process.
Like I said, I think there will be some spots taken by the deferrals that we do this year. I think that’s just you know simple. We’re doing our best to spread those out over the next couple of years.
We are having these discussions and starting those with the school and the university about what the class size might be next year, in two years. So we’re doing our best to try to balance the needs of incoming students and future people applying. But my plea to you is try not to worry about that, try to know that we’re doing our very best to support you. And if you feel like HBS or any of our programs great, we invite you to get to know us over the summer in the many ways that we’ve talked about today. And don’t take yourself out of the game before you’ve had a chance to do so if you feel like we could be a good fit for you.
Matt: Right before Netflix becomes all too consuming; I mean this is an opportunity for the sort of self-reflection. And that you would encourage in the introspection it’s a very personal process applying and not worrying about the other thousands but really focusing on your application. Kate, I guess is a similar advice and I just love to know when you start the assessment of an applicant, do you start with the bottom of a person’s resume with all those hobbies passions and the fun things that they’ve been doing, or do you start dutifully up at the top?
Kate: I think the when we look at an application, resume, your essays, we listen to and watch the video essays that Kellogg includes in our application. We’re looking for who you are being brought to life by all these different components. And then bringing to life is you can use the real estate of your resume to literally just list out you know, I accomplish this or this is something that I did where you can really use the real estate on that resume to bring to life how you made a difference in an impact. How what you brought to that moment, that project, your organization, was something that was because of the contributions, the ideas, the energy that you put into your work.
When we look at a resume, we’re going to look at the whole picture of the resume. There’s no rote approach to it. We’re going to review all of the components, we’re going to read every word that you put on that resume.
And it’s amazing how I actually think sometimes applicants overlook the power of the resume to bring forward all that you are and what you can do and how you contribute. Don’t treat that as an afterthought in the process of preparing your application.
But you know and also even many of us have like short answer responses, where looking for maybe career aspirations or something you’re most proud of that you’ve accomplished. I mean I’ve seen a whole variety of different questions asked by how these great programs. Earlier, you heard my colleagues reference the reflection process. Take the time, whether you’re going to write down and really be thoughtful about where you want to go, why you want to pursue an MBA, what you would bring to a program. And allow those aspects to be woven throughout the application. When you’re thinking about the interview, when you’re thinking about the resume, and your essays, all of those come together.
Sometimes I encourage candidates to think about is there an aspect that I could showcase best through this answer or this vehicle in the application. It’s like taking a step back and thinking about what would you want an admissions committee to know about you. And as Chad said, you know really thinking about you in the process, not everyone else. That was great advice, and I think all of us are very holistic and looking at our candidates in a review process. So hopefully that’s helpful as candidates think about putting all the pieces together.
Matt: It’s a great place to start. And Eric, as our internet non-U.S. school on the panel, we have an audience from over 80 countries. And the idea of using the MBA to gain that sort of international experience at a top school, I mean you explained that a take them on today you have a million alumni. So there’s an extraordinary network in Mexico and beyond. For international applicants, is there a characteristic that you look for? You know that’s taking leap, some sense of going out of their comfort zone because they’re looking to study outside of their countries. Is that something that you look for, that you pick up in applications?
Eric: First mission, Matt, that indeed, we are a business school. I think we are a leader in the business education in Latin America. So, we always see ourselves as a house, a way to promote leadership in the region. But not underneath, we see ourselves as an international school. As you mentioned, we are proudly part of the global network for Advanced Management together with JD School of Management and three other schools around the world. We offer a Latin American perspective of businesses but with the impact for other parts of the world as well. So yeah, we look for people who are really trying to make a difference in the business environment. This idea to look for something else that they can really make an impact with certain features in the business environment, and not only look at the very narrow city perspective so to say. So a little bit as Kate was mentioning, we do really have a holistic approach in our admission process.
And the CV, the sales are one part of it. But we have for example, the interviews. Interviews are very important for us because we get to know the candidate on a more personal level.
I personally interview a lot of our MBA candidates as an MBA director. I always look for the commitment that they have to really make an impact, a change in the environment, in their businesses they are working and so on.
For our international students, I think we do have interesting problem. The full-time MBA program is fully in English. Both of our Executive MBA programs that I was mentioning before, the one that we have with our solid state school. WP Carey is also in English and the one MBA program which is a consortium of five universities around the world. They got included. And we have a run in for rights from the rolling admissions process.
For example, we have a mission for the WP Carey dual program with the Calabrese mister school and for the one MBA program we also have admissions for this fall. So yeah, we invite all of our prospective students to get to know the school better. After this panel ends, we do have a chat with another business after the panel, so we invite all of our applicants or prospects to get to know the school better and what we have to offer to them.
Matt: Right, well thank you that’s a nice reminder that on the application that you’ll be able to chat with some of our panelists from this session. Just perhaps one final word. You know Kate talked about a resume being you know more than just a reductive chronological or exercise bullet points. Rodrigo, showing impact. Is there one area of the application that you feel is either overlooked or you know again a tremendous opportunity for an individual to share their very personal experience in their voice?
Rodrigo: Yeah: Be ready for the interview. So oftentimes applicants focus on that application deadline in hitting that submit button on the application and being like, “I’m done.” Not yet.
The interview is such an integral part of everything that we do and where you really truly come alive to the interviewer. So be ready, and be ready of course with throwing examples of professional and personal experiences that you want to share, that you really argument everything that you bring out in the application.
Also be ready with good questions. You’re not only being interviewed, you’re interviewing the schools that you are interacting with. Adjusting the questions that you have for the interviewer. Some schools use current students or their alums, other admissions officers. So do a little bit of research. You can have really great questions to ask during the interview because that will help you really stand out from the pack.
Matt: Kate and the team in Evanston, you’ll still be accepting applications for the full until you said I think June 1st?
Kate: That is correct.
Matt: And clearly with EGADE, with several programs and January Class starts, you’ll have some busy months I’m sure… Chad, you know you’ve had 2+2 deadlines and I don’t know if the extended deadlines or anything else we should be aware of. Traditionally, you’ve always been one of the first schools to then announce the admission cycle of the year ahead. It seems it seems a long way away. People will be eager to plan and following the website you do a great directors blog, but just as you look at the calendar will expect it to look at next year’s admit admission cycle. You’ll be letting us know when, at the end of this month?
Chad: Yeah. We did extend our 2+2 deadline. For college seniors looking to apply, you can apply up to June 1st, so please check that out. And then for round one, I mean so far, we plan to announce and open the application next month in early June. And so far, it looks like we’re going to keep the same roughly kind of early September-ish deadline for round one.
Matt: Right, okay. No major changes to the application? All of you have been very flexible with interviewing in the last few months but no, Chad? You expect no major changes?
Chad: We’re working through that now. Got to get it out by June for all of you. But we don’t expect to have any major changes, no.
Matt: Well, I’m conscious of how busy your days are, both professionally, with family. A very personal thanks to all four of you. I know some of you will now be joining us in that in that chat room. Do look at the school websites. You provide a tremendous amount of information. It was great to be able to have the faces, the voices and the insights that you’ve all shared in the last hour. So Kate, Eric, Rodrigo, Chad stay well, you and your families. Thank you very much for being with us at Center Court today.
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