by Kim Clark

We posed questions to admissions officials at the Loyola University Chicago Graduate School of Business regarding the application process, what they look for in applicants, and what sets their school apart. These are their responses:

1. What can applicants do to set themselves apart from their peers?

The admissions committee looks at applications from a holistic perspective and assesses a variety of factors when making an admission decision. In addition to "black and white" numbers such as the GMAT score and the undergraduate grade point average, the committee also looks at more qualitative factors such as types of courses taken, the statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and work experience.

2. What do you look for in the application essays? What do the essays tell you about a candidate?

Applicants should use the essay question posed on application to introduce themselves to the admission committee. This needs to be done in a clear, concise, and logical manner. We also want to understand what motivates applicants, their personal/professional ambitions, and how Loyola's Graduate School of Business can help them to achieve their goals.

3. How important is the applicant's GMAT score? How do you weigh it against undergraduate GPA and work/internship experience? Which of these carry the most weight? The least?

The applicant's GMAT score and undergraduate GPA are two of the important quantitative components that the admissions committee takes into consideration. The committee is aware, however, that these two metrics alone do not always tell the full story. Work/internship experience is invaluable and adds an important dimension to students' understanding of the business environment and their appreciation of graduate business education.

4. How much does prior work/internship experience weigh into your decision making? What's the typical or expected amount of work experience from an applicant?

Relevant work/internship experience certainly strengthens an application. We generally look for students who have at least two to three years work experience. In those instances when applicants have less experience, their strong academic performance and full engagement enables them to bring other very positive attributes to the classes.

5. What sets you apart from other schools? What can students gain from your school that they might not be able to find anywhere else?

Loyola's GSB develops responsible leaders in programs of study that combines theory with practice in a framework that supports our mission of "preparing people to lead extraordinary lives." Graduates of our program excel as managers and leaders in the global, interdisciplinary environment of modern business, consistent with our Jesuit tradition. We offer a transformative education experience centered on the core principles of: faith, justice, moral and social responsibility, and understanding one's gifts and how to best use them to transform the world.

6. What do you look for in recommendation letters? How important is it that the letter's writer has worked regularly with the candidate in an office or school setting?

Recommendation letters should reflect the views of those who know the student well and who can comment on the student's past accomplishments and abilities, as well as the student's ability to succeed in a rigorous graduate business program. We encourage students to select these references from an academic or work-based setting (such as former or current professors and employers). Academic references best articulate the candidate's ability to do graduate-level work and to succeed in graduate school. Additionally, employer references best articulate the candidate's work ethic, business knowledge, ambitions, accomplishments, and how the graduate degree might benefit the candidate in his/her career.

7. Can you give a brief description of the life cycle of an application? What's the timeline applicants should expect?

Loyola University Chicago admits applicants on a "rolling" basis and is based on the academic quarter system. Once the application is complete, the admissions committee strives to have a decision made within 10 to 15 business days. A recruitment advisor is available to answer applicants' questions and guide them through the application process.

8. Which firms recruit heavily from your school? Which ones hire the highest percentage of your graduates?

Some firms that recruit heavily at Loyola:

Bosch, Allstate, GE, KPMG, AT&T, Abbott Labs, BCBS, Discover Financial Services, PricewaterhouseCoopers, True Partners Consulting, Veoila Transportation, and California Franchise Tax.

Firms that hire the greatest percentage: Bosch, Allstate, KPMG, and Discover Financial.

9. What are some of the most common mistakes that applicants make that hurt their chances of being accepted?

-- Some applicants do not do enough research on the admission standards of the schools to which they are applying.

-- Some applicants downplay the importance of the GMAT exam and do not study before taking it, which has resulted in scores that negatively impact the student's admission chances.

-- Statements of purpose are sometimes not written in a logical, concise manner. Spelling and grammatical errors may also not be corrected. Both errors in judgment compromise applicants' admission chances.

10. Can you describe the archetypal student for your school?

The archetypal Loyola student could perhaps be described as "multifaceted." We look for students who are strong academically, who are serious about scholarship and high achievement, and add a dimension of diversity to our student body . We look for students who can appreciate the value and benefits of a Jesuit education, which strives to offer a transformative educational experience to each student.

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