We posed questions to admissions officials at the North Carolina State University Jenkins Graduate School of Management 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?
Applicants should focus on showcasing their skills and accomplishments with an updated résumé and in the extracurricular activities section of the application. Community involvement and volunteer work can strengthen an applicant's file. The Committee recommends taking advantage of the optional essay to highlight strengths or to explain areas that might be perceived as flaws.
2. What do you look for in the application essays? What do the essays tell you about a candidate?
The Committee looks for essays that have depth and honesty and demonstrate a clear focus and goal orientation. The essays help the Committee determine appropriate fit in the program and can also reveal interpersonal dynamics, ethical outlook, and maturity. Like in the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), the essays are used as writing samples, so we look at content, grammar, and structure since writing is a critical skill for success in the program.
3. How important is the applicant's GMAT score? How do you weight it against undergraduate GPA and work experience? Which of these carry the most weight? The least?
The Admissions Committee considers three primary quantitative factors: GMAT, GPA, and work experience. If one of those three areas is below our average, the applicant should perform higher than average in the other two areas. Although the GMAT is important because it is a proven indicator of academic performance, it is one of several factors that are considered.
4. How much does prior work/internship experience weigh into your decision making? What's the typical or expected amount of work experience from an applicant?
The average full-time M.B.A. students at Jenkins has three to four years of work experience and we recommend a minimum of two years full-time post-baccalaureate work experience. Work experience is one of the three quantitative factors the Committee considers. Like the GMAT, if work experience is below the average, the GPA and GMAT should be above average.
5. What sets you apart from other schools? What can students gain from your school that they might not be able to find anywhere else?
The NC State Jenkins M.B.A. has a strong focus on technology. This is woven throughout the curriculum and is truly showcased in some of our unique concentrations, such as BioSciences Management, Innovation Management, and Services Management. In addition, our Supply Chain Management concentration is ranked as one of the top supply chain programs in the U.S. Our program focuses on real projects for real companies, so students have the opportunity to put their knowledge into practice before even leaving the classroom.
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?
We look for three letters of recommendation and ask that they come from professional or academic sources (no friends or family members). We prefer to receive one letter from a current supervisor, when possible. The best recommendation letters come from individuals who have worked with the candidate in the professional or academic setting and can speak to the applicant's skills by giving specific examples and highlighting key personal attributes that give the candidate strength.
7. Can you give a brief description of the life cycle of an application? What's the timeline applicants should expect?
Typically, once an application is complete, including all supplemental documents, an applicant will receive a decision in approximately six weeks. Interviews are required and are done on an invitation-only basis. The interview is typically conducted within four weeks of application submission.
8. Which firms recruit heavily from your school? Which firms hire the highest percentage of your graduates?
Firms that have recruited heavily most recently have included Deloitte, Bank of America, Carquest, Chevron, Biogen, and Small Business Technology Development Center (SBTDC).
9. What are some of the most common mistakes that applicants make that hurt their chances of being accepted?
Assuming a student may be admissible based on academic potential, the most common mistake is not putting enough effort into the application or not demonstrating focus. Applicants are afforded chances to showcase their skills and accomplishments through their résumé and essays. There is an optional essay that applicants can use to highlight accomplishments or explain areas of the application that may not be as strong as expected. Applicants should not let these opportunities go to waste. The admissions interview is also important because interpersonal and professional skills are gauged here.
10. Can you describe the archetypal student for your school?
Our full-time program is a diverse body of students, comprising 30 percent to 40 percent international students. Although engineering and business tend to be our largest feeder programs, our students also come from backgrounds in math and science, social sciences, and humanities. Some of the common denominators are an interest in technology and its impact on business, a commitment to collaboration and real projects, and an interest in social and environmental responsibility.