Admissions Q&A: University of Georgia, Terry College of Business

Admissions Q&A: University of Georgia, Terry College of Business main image

To learn more about the admissions process at the Terry College of Business (University of Georgia), and what you should and shouldn’t do when applying to business school, we spoke to Deirdre M. Kane, the school’s director of admissions for full-time and dual degree programs.

Kane joined the school in 2011 as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions and has previously worked in admissions at the Sloan School of Management at MIT.

When should I start the application process and how many schools should I apply to?

You should decide what deadline you will apply for and work backwards from there. The process can take six months to a year, depending on how long you prepare for the GMAT or the GRE (and give yourself plenty of time for that).

If you can afford it, I recommend selecting six schools: two reach schools, two target schools, and two backup schools. That is the best way to maximize your chances of getting in to one of them or to have options.

What will stand out in a business school application?

Besides what you might expect - a strong GPA and test score - applicants should prepare their applications holistically and focus on the elements of the application that you can control: your essays, your choice of recommenders (and how much you support them), your resume, and to some extent, your test score(s).

Making each element as solid and strong as possible and paying attention to how all the pieces fit together and what story they tell, is the best way to make an application stand out.

What are the major components to gather when starting an application?

Before starting an application, do your research about the program to understand its culture and what it offers. This will help you respond constructively and meaningfully to the essay prompts.

What should I not worry about, or worry less about, in my application?

Worry less about what you can’t control (your GPA, for example) and focus on demonstrating your strengths and accomplishments through other elements of the application.

Use the optional essay to explain any weaknesses, so the admissions committee understands you’re aware of those weaknesses and taking responsibility for them.

What are some of the common mistakes you find in applications?

One of the most common mistakes is to write very generic essays that could be used for almost any program. That demonstrates a lack of awareness and a lack of serious interest.

Also, when candidates rush to throw an application together to meet a specific deadline, their carelessness and haste come through when reading it.

How important are extracurriculars? Or is it all about job experience and test scores?

Having interests and passions outside of work are important for everyone! For MBA candidates, those interests are most meaningful when they align with one’s passions or career goals.

Admissions committees like to see that candidates have a genuine interest in those pursuits and a track record of community engagement in some way. It’s not beneficial if those extracurriculars magically start six months before the application deadlines.

How carefully do you examine essays and recommendation letters and give them priority over test scores and GPA?

It takes a lot more time to review essays and recommendation letters than test scores and GPA and that is where we spend most of our time. The goal when reading an application is to find reasons to interview/admit someone, not eliminate them.

We spend 15-20 minutes on each application and the majority of that time is spent on the resume, essays, and recommendations.

Would you recommend calling, emailing, and checking in on your application?

No, I do not. There is no advantage to bothering the admissions office. You have to understand you’re one of many candidates and there is a process being followed to review everyone fairly and impartially. You can only hurt your candidacy by trying to insert yourself into that process.

Most applications are online now and you can check the status of your application that way instead.

How do I secure letters of recommendation and who are the best people to write these?

Choose people who know you best and who have supervised you and observed you in a professional setting so they can speak specifically to your strengths, accomplishments and potential.

After you decide who it will be, meet with them to discuss the process, share information about what you’ve done to remind them, and give them plenty of time to send in their recommendations. They are likely very busy people, so you need to respect their time.

How do I prepare for my admissions interview and what can I expect?

Know your application and your resume. Know the program. Research what type of interviews they conduct and prepare accordingly by practicing questions and answers.

Wear business dress unless otherwise specified. You can expect the interview to appear casual and be conversational.

The interviewer will be ready to ask you in-depth questions about what you have submitted. Be prepared to answer questions with examples from your personal and professional experiences and be prepared to explain the motivations behind the things you have done.

Lead image: Blastframe (Flickr)

Written by Craig OCallaghan

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