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?
Fisher is distinctive in that we have a relatively small M.B.A. program with an intimate culture, yet our program is housed within one of the world's largest and most well-known research universities. This enables us to offer a highly personalized, collaborative, student-driven experience that leverages the educational resources of the entire university. In fact, students can study almost anything to augment their study of business management. Our M.B.A. students have studied subjects as diverse as agriculture, sports management, foreign language, and actuarial science to help them reach their career goals. Because we're small, we can work to customize every student's education through enrollment in classes from any discipline—not just business. Our curriculum has a strong emphasis on leadership and professional development, as we want to ensure that our students are adequately prepared to succeed in their management roles as they progress through their careers. Workshops, events, and speaker series are designed to help students hone their leadership skills and expand their professional networks. Since our school is located in the midst of a vibrant business community (Columbus is the 16th largest city in the U.S. and home to companies like Nationwide, Victoria's Secret, Wendy's and many others), our students can take advantage of a plethora of experiential learning opportunities by working on high level consulting projects with local firms.
People may be surprised to learn about the extent of international opportunities offered by Fisher. Recently, for example, students returned from spring break in Ethiopia, where they worked on a project involving the export of coffee, and Peru, where students participated in an ongoing microfinance project to help alleviate poverty in a rural South American community. Another group of students went to Brazil to work on sustainable business development projects in anticipation of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Several Fisher students choose to study in exchange programs with more than 30 educational partners located worldwide, making Fisher's international experiences equal, if not superior, to those available in any other program. But perhaps what most sets us apart is Fisher's long record of excellence in student placement. Even in today's challenging economy, more than 90 percent of our 2009 graduates successfully found employment, exceeding the averages of other leading M.B.A. programs.
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?
Recommendation letters should provide insight into the candidate's academic and professional accomplishments, his/her personal character, and potential for success as a student in the M.B.A. program and in his/her future career as a leader in an organization. We are looking for demonstrated evidence of personal attributes that are reflective of the candidate's potential to succeed in a leadership capacity. These include communication skills, interpersonal skills, integrity, motivation, passion, empathy, vision, and global awareness, among others. Candidates should select references carefully and ensure that they are asking individuals who know them well to write letters on their behalf. Professional recommendation letters are preferred, although academic recommendations are acceptable, particularly if the candidate is applying to the program with less post-baccalaureate work experience. We are looking for references who can give specific examples about the candidate's potential for success in our M.B.A. program based upon personal interactions with that individual in an academic or professional setting. A letter from the applicant's direct supervisor providing lengthy qualitative feedback is much more useful in the application review process than a short letter from the CEO or another prominent individual in the company that provides little information more than simply verifying that the applicant is employed there.