The "cool" factor in letters from public figures wears off quickly because these are usually form letters with names replaced, written by staffers. What's most impressive isn't the name, it's the quality of the relationship. Choose recommenders who know you and can speak clearly to your strengths and your development areas. Go for relationship, not title. Here's a tip:make sure you choose someone busy enough to be a high performer but not so busy that they give you one-line answers with typos. Make sure you choose people who will appropriately represent the image you want to display.
7. Can you give a brief description of the life cycle of an application? What's the timeline applicants should expect?
The life cycle is often dependent on the candidate's timeliness. Ideally, on the day you submit your application, you are a few days ahead of the deadline, which makes you look organized, proactive, and timely. You've notified your recommenders and they also submit by the deadline—again, you are timely and responsible. Your transcripts have already arrived and you have taken (and perhaps retaken) your GMAT, so we have your scores. Since everything is in and you look like a great candidate, it will take us only a few days to decide to send you an interview invitation. You'll sign up for a live, webcam, or telephone interview. After your interview, you will likely receive your admissions decision within two weeks. From submission to decision, the shortest time is two weeks; the longest is two months.
8. Which firms recruit heavily from your school? Which firms hire the highest percentage of your graduates?
We're often asked whether our location or size constrains us to mid-Atlantic employers. As our employers show, we are central to everywhere. And our employer list is as varied as our students' goals. Last year's top recruiting firms were Dell, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Sears Holdings, Hewlett-Packard, Johnson & Johnson, Mars Snackfood, Novartis, and Apple. Additionally, we have longstanding relationships with companies such as Air Products & Chemicals, Black & Decker, DuPont, ExxonMobil, IBM, JPMorgan Chase, Liberty Mutual, M&T Bank, Pfizer Inc., PNC, and PPG Industries, Inc.
9. What are some of the most common mistakes that applicants make that hurt their chances of being accepted?
My favorite webcast is "Avoiding Typical Admissions Mistakes" on iTunes University, which describes seven easily avoidable mistakes. The root causes for all mistakes is two-fold: 1) failing to consider yourself in the full M.B.A. candidate context, and 2) failing to recognize that every interaction is an opportunity to shine.
10. Can you describe the archetypal student for your school?
As a Smeal M.B.A., you rise above the crowd for your drive, integrity, and collaboration. You are first to volunteer for the tough job. You are last out of the office. You give credit to your team before yourself. You maintain the highest of standards in ethics and professionalism. People who work for you don't leave, they're promoted. And so are you.