We posed questions to admissions officials at the Arizona State University W.P. Carey 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?
We encourage applicants to engage with our admissions and recruiting office early in the application cycle. We invite applicants to attend our recruiting events, network with our 63,000 alumni located worldwide, check out our Online Alumni Community, visit us on the road (schedule to be released in summer 2010), attend a recruiting reception, attend our Fall or Spring Preview Day, or visit our office for a one-on-one advising appointment.
To impress admissions staff, applicants should demonstrate they are knowledgeable about the unique features of the W. P. Carey M.B.A. program and articulate how those features align with their experience and future career goals. Perhaps most importantly, applicants should make an effort to demonstrate not only their technical capability but also their interest in leadership, since we are focused on building the skill sets of emerging global leaders. Our admissions and recruiting team is very approachable and wants to work with you to find the best program that will meet your academic and career goals.
2. What do you look for in the application essays? What do the essays tell you about a candidate?
Essays should be focused, organized, and well-written, allowing the reader to understand the applicant's background and interest in the W. P. Carey M.B.A. We are looking for insight into the applicant's professional experience, community involvement, and leadership responsibilities at work and in the community. We also center attention on an applicant's understanding about how prior work experience combines with the W. P. Carey M.B.A. curriculum, specialization choice, and internships to shape the applicant's future career path and potential.
Applicants should focus on the qualities and characteristics that separate them from their counterparts. How are you unique? Deal with weaknesses honestly. In terms of describing a weakness, an applicant should clearly identify the area of concern and describe how a potentially negative component of the application has been addressed and even resulted in a stronger overall profile. Finally, the essay also reflects written communication skills of the applicant. Since communication is essential to success in the classroom and in business, we look for a well-crafted, cleanly written essay. We appreciate the unique perspective students bring to the classroom. Articulate that perspective in your essays, if you can.
3. 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?
The GMAT is used to assess the potential to succeed in graduate business studies. The admissions committee reviews the verbal and quantitative portion of the exam, as well as the writing score. GPA is also important because past success in an undergraduate program will assure the committee the applicant has the potential to perform well in an academic setting and has an important drive to achieve. Applicants who were "less focused" in their undergraduate programs often offset a less competitive GPA with a strong GMAT score.
While both the GMAT and GPA are important components of an application, the admissions team at the W. P. Carey School of Business is looking for much more. To assess leadership potential and interest, the admissions committee considers all components of the application, including the essays and personal interview. For the W. P. Carey M.B.A. program, every candidate is interviewed on campus. The interview is a great opportunity to make a positive impression by demonstrating strong interpersonal and communication skills. We invest significant resources in the personal interview because it assists us with: (1) assessing the fit of each applicant to the W. P. Carey M.B.A. program culture, (2) identifying an applicant's motivation for pursuing an M.B.A. at the W. P. Carey School of Business, and (3) understanding leadership initiative and ability to work with others. Best words of advice: Be engaged, be prepared, and be yourself.