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MBA Admissions Q&A: OSU Fisher College of Business

MBA admissions interview with Ohio State University

The Max M. Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University (OSU) leapt into North America’s top 50 MBA program destinations in QS’s regional rankings for 2014/15 with a rise of 18 places. TopMBA.com therefore thought it was high time to sound out the thoughts of Fisher’s assistant director of MBA admissions, Julee Conrad, to learn more about the process of getting into what she describes as an “intimate MBA program” - a process in which Conrad believes a strong MBA admissions essay can go a long way towards helping you to stand out from the crowd.

Julee Conrad, OSU FisherWhat is the typical acceptance rate to the Fisher MBA program and its proportion of international students?

Fisher’s MBA program typically has around a 35% acceptance rate for applicants to the full-time MBA program. Typically, there are about 30-35% international students hailing from 14 different countries in our student body of 115 students.

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

Since we have an intimate MBA program, we place an emphasis on what makes a candidate unique.  We want to learn about the things you are passionate about and what really drives you. The best opportunity to share this information is through your application essays and the optional video essay.  The video essay is a chance for you to speak directly to our admissions committee and to share insights into your personality that will help us decide if you are a good fit for the Fisher community.  Take advantage of every opportunity to show your genuine interest in the program.

What is a common mistake you see applicants make?

Some applicants underestimate the power of doing research. It is important to understand why the school is a good fit for you and to show that you have taken the time to visit and read the school’s website. If an institution’s name can be easily swapped out of your application essays and replaced with a different one, you haven’t done enough research on that MBA program.

If you are able, it is always a great idea to visit campus before applying so you can base your decision on personal experiences with the students, admissions representatives and the program in general.

Fisher has many opportunities to visit campus including a preview day in October, as well as class visits throughout the year. These personal experiences not only give you more to talk about during the application and interview, but will give you the peace of mind that you are choosing the right MBA program for you.

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

I would like to see applicants take more risks in their application essays. The admissions committee reads many applications during the admissions season and an easy way for yours to stand out from the crowd is by making sure your voice and personality come through to the reader.  Don’t get caught up in trying to write what you think a ‘typical’ MBA essay should sound like. Be as genuine and authentic as you can. The essays tell us more about who you are as a person and why Fisher would be a great choice for you. We really do read your essays and a good essay can help differentiate your application from those of other candidates. 

What does the Fisher College of Business application process look like?

Fisher has rolling admissions which means we are reviewing applications throughout the entire academic year. We have application deadlines throughout the year, with our financial aid priority deadline on December 15. 

Prospective students apply to the Fisher MBA program by submitting their online application and supplemental application materials. Our interviews are by invitation only, and you can hear back about a possible interview within 4-6 weeks of submitting your completed application and materials.

Interviews are offered as either a campus visit or a virtual interview if you are not able to travel to Columbus. This year we will also be offering alumni interviews in select cities as an alternative to a virtual interview.

After completing an admissions interview, applicants receive an admissions decision within two weeks.  All admitted students are automatically considered for merit-based financial aid and do not need to turn in any additional items to be considered. Merit-based aid awards are communicated shortly after a positive admissions decision.

How can a candidate overcome a lower GMAT score?

We realize that the GMAT is not an IQ test and that every applicant has a different skillset. We have a supplemental essay option if you would like to elaborate on what you perceive to be your area of weakness and the other contributions you will make to the program.

If you believe your GMAT score is not reflective of your potential and you think you can do better, we do encourage you to retake the exam. We will look at your highest score when making an admissions decision.

MBA admissions tips

Essay(s): Show that you are passionate about the school and that you have done your research. It sounds simple, but making sure you have someone else proofread your essays is absolutely critical.

Interview: Wherever possible, come to campus for your interview day. Once there, you will be able to meet the admissions team as well as current students at the school and members of the career management office – you’ll also have the opportunity to sit in on a class. Be prepared to talk about your work accomplishments and career goals.

Letters of recommendation: Choose individuals who know you well.  This is more important than choosing individuals with ‘impressive’ titles. A direct supervisor is usually the best choice of recommender.

CV/résumé: Be sure to include the dates you held each position so it is easy to understand your career progression. You are welcome to extend your résumé past one page so you can describe each position adequately, as well as any volunteer or extra-curricular activities.

School visit: Plan ahead so we have enough time to put together a visit day for you. We don’t have classes on Friday, so you’ll want to pick a day earlier in the week. Ask plenty of questions and meet as many students as possible while you are on campus.

Written by Mike Grill

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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