Insider Intel for Chicago Booth Applicants

by Stacy Blackman Consulting, Jun 11, 2020

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Starting an MBA in this economic, political, and social climate shows a real strength of character. These students have stepped forward to become change-makers, showing faith in the programs they’ve chosen. But more importantly, they have confidence in their ability to adapt to whatever the COVID-19 pandemic does to their learning environment and recruiting landscape.

We’re betting that the class of 2022 is going to share similarities with those who graduated in 2010 and 2011, following the global financial crisis. That is to say, innovative, adaptable, and hard-hustling. What happens in the fall is anyone’s guess. Yet the demand for an MBA from a high-profile school has never been greater.

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Today we’re welcoming Meg, who has been with the SBC consulting team since 2017, with a Q&A specifically for Chicago Booth applicants. Meg served as a Senior Associate Director of Admissions at Chicago Booth School of Business in their full-time MBA program for over two years.

In addition to her role as an AdCom, Meg oversaw the planning and execution of Booth’s First Day. This event welcomed hundreds of admitted students and their significant others twice annually. The Campus Visit Program, which brought hundreds of students to campus throughout the year, also fell under her purview.

These on-campus events allowed her to observe an abundance of prospective students. More importantly, she saw what it took for Chicago Booth applicants to get admitted into this prestigious full-time MBA program.

Q: What were the biggest mistakes applicants made when applying to Booth?

A: The first mistake that comes to mind is when an applicant doesn’t directly answer the essay questions. The creative process is different for everyone. But you must take the time to respond thoughtfully to the question asked. Second, referencing another business school anywhere in your application always results in a ding against you.

Q: You oversaw the campus visit program at Booth. Do you think making the trip is worth it for a prospective Chicago Booth applicant?

A: ABSOLUTELY. Think about visiting campus as a critical part of your application checklist. The COVID-19 pandemic has made in-person visits off the table for now. Regardless, it’s essential to show up in whatever way you can to learn more about the program, the institution, and the community.

The idea behind engaging (whether in-person or digitally) is that you develop a deep understanding of fit. It doesn’t matter how majestic the campus or how highly-ranked the program. If you don’t feel the connection and fit with the community, keep looking. You want to walk away from these visits and discussions feeling like you’ve found "your people."

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Q: When an applicant asks you, “What are my chances of getting into Booth?”, what is your response?

A: The truth is that no one in the world, except for the Deans of Admissions at these institutions, knows your odds. Although it’s tempting to try to figure it out, it’s exponentially more productive to direct that energy toward your essays, engaging with the community, or your application.

Q: Do you think there is an area Chicago Booth applicants tend to underrate or overrate the importance of?

A: Booth has a special community, and the same can be said for a lot of business schools. Applicants underrate the importance of knowing why that particular school is a fit for them. They have to go beyond the highlights they can read about online.

Be sure to have a deep appreciation for the unique qualities of whatever school you have targeted. Then, make sure to speak to those specific components in your application. This includes your essays, your interview, as well as in discussions you have with anyone connected to the school.

Q: If you had to pick one thing, what did you love about working in Booth’s full-time MBA program?

A: There’s certainly a LOT to appreciate about a Chicago Booth MBA. Applicants will likely hear about Booth’s pay-it-forward mentality, their discipline-based approach to learning, or the fact that they happen to have Nobel-prize winners teaching there.

For me, I loved the fact that the students were encouraged, even expected, to be involved in the growth of the institution. Booth is a place that values tension in the classroom. Every year, Donna Swinford (Associate Dean of Recruitment and Admissions) and her team put together classes of students who don’t think alike.

There are countless examples of diverse student groups uniting to lead initiatives that have ultimately made Booth a better place. The point is to have a diversity of thought. Booth students embrace the opportunity to learn and grow from each other’s unique perspectives. In doing so, they become better versions of themselves.

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Stacy Blackman Consulting is the only MBA admissions firm with a complete panel of former Admissions Officers from every M7 program and the elite European MBA programs. If you are looking for guidance on your MBA application, we can help with hourly and comprehensive consulting services. Contact us to learn more.