What can you do to set yourself apart in your application? Admissions officials have the answers
We posed questions to admissions officials at the Wake Forest University 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 do you look for in the application essays? What do the essays tell you about a candidate?
It sounds easy enough, but please answer the question and get or spell the name of the school right! Make sure that the message you deliver in your essays is consistent with the one you tell in the interview.
2. How important is the applicant's GMAT score? How do you weigh it against undergraduate GPA and work experience? Which of these carry the most weight? The least?
We have found a correlation between [lower] GMAT scores and performance in our first-year M.B.A. classes, so the GMAT is an important part of the application process. There's a little more flexibility with GPA; our Admissions Committee understands that competitive nature of different majors and universities and certainly takes that into consideration when making decisions.
3. 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?
4. What sets you apart from other schools? What can students gain from your school that they might not be able to find anywhere else?
In the past 10 years at
5. 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? Do you put much weight on letters from prominent public figures who may not know the applicant well?
If your only interaction with a C-level person at your company was when they held the elevator door for you, a good recommender he/she does not make. Without question, ask someone who knows you and knows you well--someone who can tell us what makes you great, as well as what opportunities you have to be even better, and who has worked with you through both professional successes and failures. We all have improvement for growth, so when we read that a recommender "hasn't observed any weaknesses" in an applicant, we wonder if they really know them at all. We have found that academic recommendations tend to be more generic, unless they worked directly with a student over his/her college career and have kept in touch with the candidate since graduation. Considering that we require a minimum of two years post-graduate work experience, we are more interested in professional recommendations.
6. Can you give a brief description of the life cycle of an application? What's the timeline applicants should expect?
7. What are some of the most common mistakes that applicants make that hurt their chances of being accepted?
Applicants aren't always cognizant that the evaluation continues after the interview is over. If they make derogatory, inappropriate, or unprofessional comments to another student during their campus visit, the admissions office will hear about it. While it has only happened a few times over the last 10 years, it still horrifies us. There's no room for those candidates at
8. Can you describe the archetypal student for your school?
Who doesn't want students who are smart, good communicators, possess strong team work skills and are willing to work--and work hard? But at
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