MBA Admissions Q&A: Beedie School of Business | TopMBA.com

MBA Admissions Q&A: Beedie School of Business

By Mike Grill

Updated July 4, 2019 Updated July 4, 2019

Interested in studying your MBA in Vancouver, Western Canada? In this MBA admissions interview, the manager of graduate programs at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business, Jeffery Nehajowich outlines the process – from ways in which an applicant can stand out from the crowd to the kind of repeat mistakes that might even incite rage in admissions officers.  

What are the most important aspects of the Beedie MBA application process besides GMAT score, prior GPA, and current job position?

Fit [i.e. suitability] - in relation to personality, maturity and attitude.  This level of fit is determined in the admissions interview, which is why this is one of the most vital steps of our admissions process.  In the interview, we are looking for people that will work well with other members of the cohort, contribute in class and, ultimately, be a noble ambassador to the Simon Fraser University (SFU) Beedie brand.

SFU Beedie School of Business' Jeffery Nehajowich
What is a common mistake you see applicants make?

I consistently see applicants take one or more aspects of the application for granted.  For example, too many applicants think that the GMAT is worth everything and put all their time and attention into this exam and end up putting less attention and effort into other - equally important - parts of the application, such as the admissions essay, the interview, tailoring/updating their résumé and ensuring they have suitable references. 

A truly great candidate is one that presents a well-rounded application; one that has clearly put the necessary time, detail and attention into every single aspect of the application, leaving nothing to the ire or concern of the admissions professional. Sure, there are aspects of the application that a school may look at with a particularly close eye, (for example, the interview in our case), but programs ultimately want someone that can demonstrate excellence in a few different ways, while at the same time finding ways to mitigate any potential weaknesses.  

What is something you would like to see applicants do more often?

Research the school they are applying to.  It is no great secret that 95% of applicants apply to more than one school, however, it should not be readily apparent that they have copied and pasted their files to fit into several different schools’ applications.

It is very powerful to demonstrate why you want to go to OUR graduate business school, not simply A graduate business school.  Show an understanding of the curriculum, know what makes the business school special, refer to a notable professor or alumnus, etc.  When applying for a job, it isn’t enough to say why you want a job and why you should be hired, instead it is imperative to say why you want that specific job at that specific company and why you are the right fit for that role.  Well, admissions into a good MBA program is really no different.  This demonstration of research really separates the application from the pack. 

What is the typical acceptance rate to the Beedie School of Business MBA program?

This is different for all of our programs and varies from year to year, so I can’t give a precise figure here.

What does the Beedie application process look like?

We really like to have some sort of interaction with the applicant before or while they are applying so that we can put them on our radar, get to know them and provide assistance throughout the application process. 

Once the applicant starts the online application, they will have a virtual checklist of all our requirements and once the pertinent file is uploaded or an action is completed, that specific box will be checked.  It is best to start the application and work on it diligently with a close eye for detail and at your own pace, than it is to try and do everything at once. 

Progress is monitored and we are there to assist the applicant along the way and help them ensure they are putting their best foot forward.  Once the application is complete, it will be reviewed with a very quick turnaround and the applicant is informed whether or not they have been shortlisted for an interview.  If successful in being shortlisted for an interview, we will set that up with a member of our admissions staff either in person (in Vancouver) or via Skype.  Once interviewed, the application goes to our admissions committee for a final decision and the applicant receives the final decision shortly after.

How can a candidate overcome a lower GMAT score? 

A lower GMAT score raises concerns about the academic acuity of the applicant.  One way to help satisfy this concern, if not through the GMAT, is a demonstration of success in the undergraduate degree, as represented by CGPA [Cumulative Grade Point Average].  Also, it is important that the applicant pays attention to all the sections of the GMAT.  Yes, the overall score is key; however, admissions staff will look for a balance between the verbal and quantitative sections and proficiency in the integrative reasoning and analytical writing sections as well.  Do not dismiss any section of the GMAT as being less important than the others.

MBA admissions tips:

Essay(s): Avoid clichés and generalities - provide specific examples and instances of your maturity, goals and capabilities.

Interview: Let your personality shine through. Canned answers are boring and don’t come across as being genuine. Be prepared and present yourself professionally, but allow the admissions staff to see who the real you is.   

Letter of recommendation: Ask your referee to provide examples to back up the praise they are given. Have them be as specific as they can possibly be.

CV/Résumé: Make sure it is updated and inclusive with information that is relevant. Keep it under two pages and if you have trouble paring it down, have a brutally honest friend tell you what is extraneous and can be therefore be cut out.

School visit:  Treat this as part of your application. Every interaction you have with students, faculty or staff counts towards our decision as to whether or not we want you to be part of our family. Always put your best foot forward in ALL interactions.

This article was originally published in May 2015 . It was last updated in July 2019

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Mike's remit covers content, SEO and blogger outreach. Outside of his work for TopMBA.com, he is an assistant coach for MLU outfit, the Portland Stags.

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