Assistant Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid
What is the one area of your program that you wish applicants knew more about?
Our experiential learning opportunities are exciting to our students, and also seem very important to prospective students as well. We offer a variety of options that span both curricular and co-curricular offerings, including:
- A required first-year team project (a core MBA course).
- International immersions, which combine a course in Rochester with global travel to an on-site destination for learning and networking. Opportunities to visit Israel, Switzerland, South Africa and South America will be available this year.
- Simon Vision Consulting, which provides pro-bono consulting to start-ups and non-profits.
- Simon Venture Capital Fund, which is a student run VC fund with over $1.8M.
- The Meliora Fund, which allows students to manage a portion of the University of Rochester’s endowment.
- An elective MBA project-based courses in a variety of areas including Brand Management, Consulting, Urban Entrepreneurship, and more.
What’s the single most exciting development, change, or event happening at your MBA program this coming year?
Our faculty is in the midst of a curriculum review and from that, we are expecting some exciting changes as we align core and elective classes with our co-curricular offerings to best prepare our students for internships and full-time employment post-graduation. Also, on a more personal basis, renovations are currently underway for the Admissions Office to move into a newly renovated space on the main level of Gleason Hall in late September. We will be better equipped to greet and host our growing number of campus visitors in our newly expanded space.
Walk us through the life of an application in your office from an operational standpoint. What happens between the time an applicant clicks “submit” and the time the committee offers a final decision (e.g. how many “reads” does it get, how long is each “read,” who reads it, does the committee convene to discuss it as a group, etc.)
As soon as an application is submitted online it is processed to make sure that it includes all of the required components. Then there are two concurrent reviews: a quick review for interview consideration and a thorough review of the application. Many candidates are sent to be interviewed while their application is being read by a member of the Admissions Committee. Even if a candidate is not immediately sent for an interview, they can still be invited after the application is read by the Admissions Committee. After the interview and application review is complete, we meet as a group and review each candidate and issue a decision on admission. While this is a rolling process, most decisions are issued around our notification timelines which are linked to the application round when a candidate has applied.
How does your team approach the essay portion of the application specifically? What are you looking for as you read the essays? Are there common mistakes that applicants should try to avoid? One key thing they should keep in mind as they sit down to write them?
We are really excited to review the essays, as it is a great way to really get to know a candidate’s potential fit for the MBA program. We are assessing career goals, prior work experience (depth), and expected contributions during the MBA program through leadership, teamwork and community/co-curricular involvement.
I would encourage a candidate to “be yourself” when you are writing the essays. There is really not a “right” answer so don’t over-think the essays or write what you think the Admissions committee is looking for in a response. Ultimately, the essays, resume, recommendations, and interview are all used together to help us learn about the candidate’s potential for the MBA.
Do you have any application tips (for essays & recommendations) for MBA applicants?
For recommendations, I always suggest that candidates approach the process thoughtfully. Schedule a lunch or coffee meeting with each person who you hope will write a recommendation letter for you. During this conversation, share background information on why you are pursuing your MBA, your career aspirations, and why you have chosen to apply to specific schools. Be sure to confirm that they have the time available to meet the deadlines for your MBA recommendations and that they are committed to providing a positive recommendation for you.
For the essays, have someone who knows you well read your essays once you have written them and have them give you feedback on content. Have you answered the question(s) asked? Does it sound like you? You may not be able to do this for every essay you write, but the initial feedback could be helpful to make sure that you are finding the right things to highlight about your candidacy while also staying within the word limits that most schools have for their essays.
What are the most important aspects of the MBA application process besides GMAT score, prior GPA, and current job position?
It’s a holistic review, so no one area of the application is most/least important. It is all considered together – overall career path to date, written and oral communication skills, leadership, teamwork, recommendations, co-curriculars, and unique qualities will all be considered when we are assessing admission.
How can a candidate overcome a lower GMAT score?
There are a few things to consider when assessing GMAT – is the score low on a relative basis but still within the range of admission for the program? If yes, then having a solid undergraduate record and/or recent non-degree coursework in business or math can help offset a lower GMAT or GRE score.
However, if the score is low on an absolute basis (i.e. outside the middle 80% range) then you may want to consider re-taking the GMAT to improve your score. The GMAT is one of the aspects of your candidacy that you can impact with some level of effort, so giving enough lead time in your preparation for this part of the application process is important.
What resources are available at your MBA program to assist with internship and full-time job opportunities?
Our incoming students are heavily focused on their future employment opportunities and as such, the Simon Career Management Center works with enrolling students even prior to orientation to help jump-start the internship and job search process. Available resources include:
- Full-time career consultants who are focused in helping students based upon function/industry interests;
- Corporate development staff who focus on maintaining company relationships, looking for new opportunities with companies who would like to hire Simon students, and coordinating job listings, company presentations, and interview schedules;
- Workshops and seminars that provide training on the basics, such as Job Search Essentials;
- Industry-based workshops that provide technical training and focus in fields such as Investment Banking and Financial Services, Brand Management, and Consulting; and
- Coordination with industry-based student clubs to coordinate corporate treks, conferences, and on-campus speakers.
Our internship and full-time employment rates are around 95% each year, so students find success taking advantage of these offerings.
Share any additional information that you think is important in the evaluation of your application
I request the admissions committee to consider the following factors while considering the gap between Secondary Schooling and the undergraduate degree (B.B.A):
Immediately after completing my Secondary Schooling, I had enrolled for an undergraduate degree in Electronics Engineering with the University of Mumbai in August 1996. Within the first four semesters, I realized that while being an engineer is a prestigious career path – my passion definitely lay elsewhere. At the age of 18, the choice was primarily influenced by peer pressure. Halfway through the course, I dropped out of the program in October 1998. Such a move is highly unconventional in India and resulted in significant disapproval from all fronts.
The early week of December 1998 was a fissure in my career that had so far been a smooth ride. The fact that I had dropped out halfway through engineering represented an entire two years of “downtime”. It took me an entire month to come out of the situation and gather courage: If I was not the best at engineering, I had to be best at something – and I just had to find it. The problem had opened this door of opportunity.
By January 1999, I was running a small-scale transport business with seven “auto-rickshaws”. Each day in the business taught me powerful lessons in business and man management. After 18 profitable months, I sold all seven rickshaws in 2000 and made a career decision to join the ABC Inc. . I wanted to experience working in established companies and learning about big-business.
In India, it’s extremely difficult to get a job without a bachelor’s degree. This really hit home on two occasions – in 2000 while looking for my first job and in 2002 after ABC Inc. , my then employer, closed down and I was jobless in a city that I was not too familiar with. After losing multiple opportunities that I was clearly suitable for, I decided to enroll in a distance learning BBA program in July 2002 while continuing to look for work. I achieved a breakthrough when I was hired at ABC and I have regularly crossed growth benchmarks ever since.
In retrospect, I realize that my interruption in education could have been averted by a more rational approach. I also realize the importance of quality higher education – the potential reflected so far in my career graph can only be fully realized with a thorough grounding in the principles of management. However, the consequences of my choices did teach me extremely valuable life-lessons of handling adversity, having faith in my abilities and judgment and being resilient.