by Kim Clark

We posed questions to admissions officials at the University of Hawaii Shidler College 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?

To set themselves apart, applicants can engage with us early and throughout the admissions process and show a demonstrated, genuine interest in our school. This includes attending our recruiting events, in-house information sessions, communication with our admissions office, participation in classes, and engagement with multiple members of our community including students and alumni.

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

Aside from an interview, essays are the most meaningful method for us to evaluate applicants. Successful essays demonstrate a clear understanding of our program and show a good fit between our offerings and the candidate's goals. They also enable us to determine an applicant's self awareness, maturity, and overall character. Because essays provide us with a glimpse into your personality, tell us your story and don't be afraid of creativity.

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?

We evaluate applicants holistically and therefore give equal weight to the GMAT, undergraduate GPA, and work experience. In evaluating an applicant's GPA, we consider the awarding institution, major, and rigor of coursework.

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?

At Shidler, we seek candidates who have at least two years of full-time professional experience. On average, our students have five years of experience although the range has been anywhere from two to more than 20 years. We encourage students to learn from each other and believe that full-time work experience allows students to provide more in-depth analysis to classroom discussions, thereby enriching the learning environment.

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?

Situated between the East and the West, Shidler is a leader in the Asia-Pacific region. Our proximity to Asia allows students to study regional business practices and to understand the nuances of doing business in the Pacific. This is particularly helpful for students that plan to work in Asia or with American companies with close ties to the region.

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?

Letters of recommendation can come from academic or professional sources or a mix of the two. Foremost, letters should be written by someone who knows the applicant well and can speak in detail about individual competencies. Strong letters of recommendation use specific examples to support assertions and are highly personalized.

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

We have four deadlines: November 15, January 15, March 1 (the last day for international applicants and priority consideration), and May 1. Once our admissions office has received an application and all supporting materials, candidates can expect to hear from us within one month. If applicants are invited for an interview at this point, a decision will normally be made within two weeks.

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

Applicants who do not have well-put together or generic applications hurt their chances of being accepted. In the essay portion, this includes grammatical and spelling mistakes, mentioning another school's name, and boilerplate statements that demonstrate either a lack of knowledge or inadequate preparation time. Students who do not prepare for the interview as they would for a job interview also hurt their chances of success.

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

Shidler College students come from a variety of educational and professional backgrounds, and pursue varied career goals. Students have demonstrated above average academic abilities, have clearly defined professional goals, are entrepreneurial, and share an appreciation for diversity of culture and ethnic background with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region.

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