How to Get In: The University of Iowa Henry B. Tippie School of Management

What can you do to set yourself apart in your application? Admissions officials have the answers.

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6. 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?

It is very important that the recommender knows the applicant from working closely with them in a professional environment (most commonly, recommendations come from a candidate's supervisor). We want to understand the candidate's strengths and weaknesses, and if the recommender hasn't worked with the candidate it would be impossible for them to speak to these things. A letter from the CEO or a political figure carries little weight without a close working relationship to accompany it.

7. Can you give a brief description of the life cycle of an application? What's the timeline applicants should expect?

The application and transcripts are sent to the university Office of Admissions for verification. At the same time, the applicant sends supporting materials to the M.B.A. office. The Office of Admissions typically takes about a week to verify the transcripts and application, as long as there aren't any problems with the documents. Admissions then passes the application to the M.B.A. office. If the M.B.A. office has all of the supporting application materials, a preliminary review of the application is done, and the interview is scheduled for candidates who pass the review. This process takes approximately two weeks with a total timeline of approximately three weeks.

8. Which firms recruit heavily from your school? Which firms hire the highest percentage of your graduates?

Because our program is one of the smaller M.B.A. programs at 65 to 70 students per year, we take an individualized approach to placement. First, we get to know the student's background, skills, and aspirations very well. We use this information to partner them with the companies and positions that are a perfect fit for their professional goals and reach out to these companies with high-quality referrals. This "quality over quantity" approach lends itself to a long list of hiring companies each year. There are many firms that we've worked with year after year, and they've hired many Tippie M.B.A.'s historically, including Eaton Corp. and AEGON USA. And as testament to the wide variety of companies we partner with, Tippie M.B.A.'s have accepted positions or internships with companies including Amazon.com, Goldman Sachs, Gavilon (ConAgra), American Greetings, Lands' End, Johnson & Johnson, and Kraft—all within the past year.

9. What are some of the most common mistakes that applicants make that hurt their chances of being accepted?

It is fairly apparent when applicants do not take the time necessary to put forth a strong application. It is important that applicants set aside time to study for the GMAT, select recommenders who can speak to the quality of their work, and create essays that answer the questions presented in a concise manner. Trying to hide any weaknesses in your application is not recommended. Candidates need to be upfront and address a work gap (in a cover letter or additional essay) rather than trying to hide it with creative résumé-writing. Sometimes applicants leave important details out of their application. As mentioned earlier, it is not in the applicants best interest to leave the committee guessing. For international applicants, a common mistake is utilizing a nontraditional résumé format. We recommend all candidates create a résumé that can be easily understood by the admissions committee.

10. Can you describe the archetypal student for your school?

There's not necessarily an archetype student in our program. We look for professional, cultural, and social diversity when recruiting students to our program, so unique differences in the student body is really what makes the program special and encourages alternative ways of thinking. We do, however, characterize our students as hard-working, intelligent individuals with high standards of ethical behavior and a strong work ethic.