School Visit: Chicago GSB  

Posted by Dino Gane-Palmer né Ganesarajah in ,

The Winter Garden, that is the centre-piece of the Chicago GSB building (Charles M. Harper Center).

I attended the Chicago GSB Live event on the 11th April. It was a good event; it was similar to a visiting a school and attending all the different bits (tour, info session, class visit etc), except it was a specially prepared day with lots and lots of prospective students in attendance. I appreciated that I met so many prospective MBA students. Chicago GSB has always stood out in my mind as being innovative, from the requirement for a powerpoint in it's application to having an Exec MBA programme in London. The event was very much in line with that expectation. There must have been 60+ people there, including HappyBunny, who I met there.

Rose Martinelli Session
The event kicked off with a welcome by Rose Martinelli, Associate Dean of Student Recruitment and Admissions. She is actually on the Exec MBA programme at the school, giving her perhaps greater depth on the course than most admissions people! For me, the salient points of her talk were that:
  • The course emphasises the same things as all MBAs, i.e. statistics, economics, then marketing and finance.
  • The emphasis at Chicago is also on flexibility and developing different lenses to look at the world through, based on facts.
  • The Chicago course also emphasises (she used that word a lot) psychology and sociology, because the course is about people.
Eddie Pollard Session
Next was a talk by another member of the admissions team, Eddie Pollard. Eddie gave an amusing talk and seemed be one of the hands on people working with the applications. He told a story about Chicago getting lots and lots of applications from India and other parts of Asia. The essays from these applicants were amazing. They went out there to interview and found that these people could not speak English! Eddie gave some advice for when/if you are on the waitlist: send updated info often and get extra recommenders. He also gave an interesting insight into the trends of the different applications round.
  • In Round 1: these are the people who have been working on their application all summer long.
  • In Round 2: this is the biggest deadline for GSB, because most international students need to have applied by this point.
  • In Round 3: not a lot of applications come in.
Eddie talked covered the following points:
  • The importance of bringing out your passion in the essays.
  • Learn how to write a good essay; the admissions team know the tone of an essay when it is one that can go to any business school. 
  • Ask yourself if "is your essay tight"?
  • Don’t give the admissions team things they already know, e.g. Chicago has 6 Nobel laureates. Talk more about who you are and why you want an MBA.
  • Chicago GSB likes career changers. If you are one of these people, say why and show what steps you are already taking to make this career change.
  • Letters of recommendations.
    • Be careful who you choose.
    • What the admissions team want to see:
      • Management skills, communication skills (can you deliver a message that people understand?), leadership skills.
      • If there are people in your team that were promoted, mention it.
  •  Interviews: 30 mins. Will be student / staff / alumni.
  • Graduate Assistants (trained GSB 2nd years) will read the application first and rate from 1 to 6. Admissions team member will do the same. If both like you, you will get in.
  • Reapplicant files kept for two years to see if recommenders and other bits say the same thing. For reapplicants, everything should be different about your file, including what the reommender has said.
Student Panel Session
A panel with current students followed. All admissions staff made sure to step out of the room. I found there was not much revelation about what they said. A few highlights:
  • One of the girls talked about how the flexible curriculum had allowed her to 'front load' a number of finance courses into her first year. This meant that when she went for interview for her internship, they were impressed that she had such advance knowledge / understanding. She had done electives that at most schools could only be done in the second year.
  • One student emphasised that no one will hold you to what you say in your application, so just tell the story that you will be able to sell the best. Have a clear and crystal rationale for why you want to do an MBA. Say how GSB will help your weakness. Why now?
  • Residence: 1/3 of students live around campus; 1/3 around downtown; 1/3 all over Chicago. 
The sessions that followed were lunch with students, a class visit or two and an evening pub event. The class visit was Prof. Matthew S. Bothner,  Strategy and Structure: Markets and Organizations. It was a case based on Apple and why the company had risen to success in recent years. The Prof imparted this insight was from Warren Buffet, which I noted down:
  When a manager reputed for excellence meets an industry with a reputation for difficult economics, it is usually the industry that keeps its reputation intact. 


Overall Impressions

The Chicago GSB campus was fantastic. Because all the classes very pretty much optional, I did feel that the students were not as bonded as at other school. You could almost see why BusinessWeek ranks it so highly.

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6 comments

Maxwriter  

Nice coverage, dude! Interesting points.

10 September 2008 at 06:55
Maxwriter  

Nice coverage, dude! Interesting points.

10 September 2008 at 06:55

Great post and insights. Did they mention anything about the LEAD program?

10 September 2008 at 14:46

Great post and insights. Did they mention anything about the LEAD program?

10 September 2008 at 14:46

Hmmm. LEAD. It was so long ago that I was there, I have to scatch my head a bit. I just wrote up my notes from the day. I'm wondering if that is the thing that the Dean wrote to all the new incomong students and *told* them to take part in. Not sure. Sorry.

12 September 2008 at 00:25

Hmmm. LEAD. It was so long ago that I was there, I have to scatch my head a bit. I just wrote up my notes from the day. I'm wondering if that is the thing that the Dean wrote to all the new incomong students and *told* them to take part in. Not sure. Sorry.

12 September 2008 at 00:25

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