38 minutes | Oct 27th 2020

An Insider’s Look at MBA Admissions

How can MBA hopefuls- especially those who are members of special applicant groups- best position themselves for acceptance? [Show summary] A valued and recent addition to Accepted’s staff, Dr. Christie St-John reveals what her career as an admissions director taught her about applying to business school (particularly for veterans, international students, and those from underrepresented groups), plus what’s ahead for the future of MBA programs. MBA admissions advice from an admissions insider [Show notes] Previously, Dr. Christie St-John was a guest on our chats as Associate Director of Admissions for Tuck, and more recently on Admissions Straight Talk as director of Vanderbilt Owen’s MBA Recruiting and Admissions. Now, this MBA admissions veteran just joined Accepted as an MBA and Graduate Admissions Consultant. Today, I'm going to speak with her about MBA admissions and graduate admissions in general, as well as specific subgroups, including veterans, international students, and underrepresented groups. I'm also going to get her insight into the impact of COVID and business schools going test-optional. How did you get into Admissions? [2:10] It was one of those peculiar things about who you know and being at the right place at the right time. I was doing my PhD at Vanderbilt and a friend of mine in the Spanish department had been recruited to the business school to run their program that they were doing in Latin America. When she was promoted to do that, she called me and said, "They're looking for somebody to fill my former job with exchange programs, and they want somebody with international experience, and you'd be perfect." And I thought, the business school, really? I was on my way to becoming a university professor of languages. So I went over and talked with them. I convinced them that I knew the difference between Saks Fifth Avenue and Goldman Sachs. I had worked in the business world before I went back to school and in the U.S. and in Europe. It was not like business was a strange thing to me, but I'd never really known this kind of job was available. Had I known, I would've started it years ago because I had only been in the position at Vanderbilt about a week, and the Dean came down to me and said, "Okay, you're going to go to Miami with Lori on Friday, and then you're going to South America for a month." I said, "Okay, let me just dust off my passport and I'll be ready to go.” That was the start of it. It's been the most fun job I've ever had. It’s almost like not really working, although it is; it's tiring, going through all the time zones. There's a lot of work to do, but it's been great because I love getting to know all the students and seeing where they're from and being able to talk to them about, "Yes, I've been to Delhi." "Yes, I've been to Seoul" or wherever it might be. That helps, I think, create a rapport with them. You have a wealth of experience in MBA and grad admissions. How do you feel about moving to the other side of the admissions desk? [4:30] As you know, when I was at Tuck, I invited a lot of the MBA admissions counselors up to visit us, and I got a lot of flack from schools about that: "Oh, how can you invite those people? You can't do business with them." And I said, "You know what? They're providing a service. And if we want them to talk about our schools to people, they need to know about our schools. And that's why I invited them." And I think it was really good, not only for the consultants who came, but it was certainly good for me to understand more about what you were doing out there. It was all a bit vague. “Why do people need help getting their applications done? It's so simple.” But it really isn't.  It's a terribly competitive area, more so now than it used to be when I first was applying to graduate school. It is something I think that's necessary. People don't realize that you really have to stop and think about what you're doing and why you're...
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