This post was written by Christie St-John, Director of Admissions for the MBA program.
Have you ever wondered what happens to your application when you hit the “submit” button? Sometimes it can feel like you’ve sent your materials off into the black box of cyberspace, and you have no idea what will happen to them next. Since our round 1 deadline just passed on October 19, I wanted to dispel the confusion that surrounds the admissions committee decision process. Here’s what happens to your MBA application after you submit it:
Evaluating the Application
If nothing is missing from your application, the members of the admissions committee — and only those people — will review your documents. Two people look over the main elements, such as transcripts, test scores, work history, and recommendation letters. If your application is competitive, you may be contacted to schedule an interview, if you have not already done an on-campus interview. The interviewer will be someone on the admissions recruiting team. At Vanderbilt Business, we don’t use students or alumni for interviewing, though some other business schools do. The interviewer will only see your résumé because we do not want to be biased either for or against someone by seeing their grades, test scores, or recommendation letters.
Once you receive a message to schedule your interview, it is up to you to do that within the time limits set for the particular round, as stated in the invitation. If we don’t hear from you, we will follow up with you once to confirm that you did receive the interview notice or to see if you are still interested in interviewing with us. If you have been accepted to another program or have changed your mind about starting your MBA, let us know at this point so we can take you out of the communication flow.
Once the interview is done and we have received all supporting documents (including the official test scores), your admissions officer will review the documents, make lots of notes, and then recommend admit, deny, or discuss to the committee. As Director of Admissions for the MBA program, I then review all the application evaluations so I have a good idea of the applicant pool. Finally, your application is scheduled for presentation to the entire Admissions Committee. The members of the committee are the six admissions officers plus one or two staff members from the Career Management Center.
Every candidate’s application is given a thorough review by the committee, and we discuss each person’s various strengths and weaknesses as a group. Our primary concerns are: (1) that our program can help you achieve your goals; (2) that you will be successful in completing the rigorous curriculum; (3) that your career goals are feasible; and (4) that you are a good fit for our culture. If we have any doubts about quantitative ability, we may require you to complete our online math or statistics class before giving a clear admit. If there are questions about your career goals, someone from the Career Management Center will reach out to you to be sure you have a good understanding of what is required for successfully transitioning to a new function or industry.
The Decision: Admit, Wait List or Deny
If you are admitted, we then scrutinize your academic and career profile to determine whether you qualify for a scholarship award. As a private university, our scholarships are funded through endowments and donations set up by our alumni and certain corporate donors. These donors often specify what qualifications are required, normally academic merit, so your grades and test scores enter into the equation once again. If you qualify for a scholarship, we will notify you of the award.
We realize you are probably deciding between several schools, so we encourage you to visit campus for a Preview Day or Welcome Weekend, or even an independent visit if those dates don’t work for you. We are selective about who joins our community, and fit isn’t something that can be ascertained only by numbers. We urge you to see what our community offers and to meet the students and professors, and then decide whether this is the place for you or not.
If you are placed on the wait list, don’t be discouraged: We will offer suggestions on how to improve your application to become a more competitive candidate, and will work with you on ways to do that. The majority of candidates on our wait list are eventually offered admission if they follow our advice.
If you are denied admission, there are very solid reasons for that. We are happy to give you feedback on what was lacking in your application. However, we can only do that in May, after we have concluded the entire admissions cycle, so that we can give you our full attention. We will encourage candidates to reapply if we feel they are a good fit and will succeed in the program if they make some improvements to their application.
In short, we are looking for reasons to admit you. Your admission is not based solely on numbers, although, yes, your grades and test scores are taken into consideration. But so are interpersonal skills, work experience, and even community service and extracurricular activities. We have a very tight-knit and collaborative community and everyone here is chosen because we feel they will achieve their goals and add value to our Owen family.
Best of luck, and we look forward to reading your application!