“How long does it take for MBA Admissions Managers to decide?”, “How much does my GMAT score weigh in the final decision?”, “Is age an advantage or disadvantage?” “How important are the well written references added to my CV?” Statistics show that at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, the most selective B-school in the U.S., 94 of every 100 applicants will be turned down. Harvard Business School will rebuff nine out of every 10 applicants. So what is it that weighs the most in the decision process?
Some people say that MBA admissions is more art than science. Decisions seem to be based on a mix of quick judgments, gut instincts, and raw numbers.
In reply to all these questions, we found an interesting story for you, recently published on CNN Money. Imagine you are suddenly allowed to sit in the same room with the admissions team from a Business School, in this case the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management:
“Let me give you the background on the young woman I met this morning,” Niki da Silva, the director of MBA admissions and recruitment, begins. “She is a consultant who started as a business analyst. She has an undergraduate degree from a top Canadian school and graduated with distinction on the dean’s honor list.”
“Nice,” says one of the other admission officers at the table.
“She has an interesting story,” continues da Silva. “What else can I tell you about her in terms of data? The weak point of her application is a GMAT score of 630. Interestingly, her breakdown is fairly even between verbal and quant, 73rd and 61st percentile. I will tell you why I don’t think it’s an issue or a deal breaker by any stretch of the imagination.
“So the reason she wants to do the MBA is because at her consulting firm she has actually built this really interesting career as an industry specialist, which is very atypical for a young consultant. She was promoted after two years onto the consulting side. She is co-authoring white papers and thought leadership on strategy. As I read through her reference letters early this morning, her referees say that ‘she is exceptional.’ A partner lists her in the top 2% of consultants at the firm. And he is very explicit in saying that ‘we would love to have her back anytime and she has had more of an impact on me than any of her peers.’ You really couldn’t see a stronger reference.”
Most of the heads in the room nod in agreement.
Da Silva continues. “Her recommenders point out the same things that were fairly apparent in her interview. I gave her a 17 out of a 20 on her interview.
“She is very impressive,” adds da Silva. “She has some room for growth and development but seems quite coachable. She is aware of some of her areas of weakness. She’s young. She turns 25 this year.”
“She has done well,” affirms Lynda Paterson, an assistant director of admissions, who once was a Montessori teacher before joining Rotman in 2004.
“For me, she is a very strong admit recommendation,” adds da Silva. “I don’t actually see any red flags apart from the GMAT score, which is below our average. She is a definite admit.”
“Alright,” says da Silva finally, “who’s up next?”
The discussion wasn’t longer than a few minutes.
So how do you convince the admissions team that you deserve to be selected in less than a couple of minutes time? Share with us your experiences.