Since Paul Almeida took over as dean of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business last year, innovation has been on everyone’s lips. It’s a change that’s seeping into every corner of the MBA, including admissions.
The revamped MBA application process, as associate dean, MBA admissions and director of marketing, Shelly Heinrich puts it, is a drive to boost the diversity of future cohorts and allow students’ personal brand to shine through more. The major change, she explains, is a move away from a singular essay to three options, each covering a different theme.
Shelly says that, in the past, the singular essay was bringing in answers that were too similar—to admit a cohort spanning the spectrum of educational background, ethnicity, life, and professional experience, something had to change.
“We asked ourselves, ‘are we allowing students the ability to pick their value proposition and truly highlight it?’” she says. “Depending on what that is they may or may not be able to spin it into one essay prompt.”
The incoming class of 2019—whose first-round application deadline was October 9th—will be the first cohort to test-drive the new admissions process, with three distinctly-themed essays to choose from.
Georgetown's three MBA essay themes:
1. Leadership; examples of being pushed out of your comfort zone.
2. Self-awareness; overcoming challenges and how to use the MBA to fill your skills gap.
3. Values & Beliefs; promoting your personal brand.
“First think about your competitive advantage; what makes you different to every other MBA candidate. Once that’s determined then go into the essay and pick one which allows you to best highlight your value proposition.”
For the change to the MBA admissions process at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business to succeed in driving a more diverse cohort, Shelly and her team will also have to overcome what she says is currently one of the biggest challenges to MBA admissions teams in the US: dropping application numbers from international talent.
Shelly explains that it’s the job of MBA admissions teams to educate them that what was the same two years ago, is still the same in terms of the MBA offering, easing their concerns.
“There’s a lot of misinformation out there in the media, a frenzy happening, and sometimes international students don’t have access to the most accurate information,” she asserts.
One way of doing that, she adds, is by highlighting the experiences of international students who are currently at Georgetown McDonough, alongside alumni who have found success in the US after graduating.
Homero Soto is one such example. Homero hails from Mexico and is a member of Georgetown McDonough’s MBA class of 2020.
He brings with him a wealth of experience, having worked in financial services, wealth management, and for the Mexican Government’s Ministry of Finance—where he liaised with organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank—before the MBA.
Homero says that while he applied to various other MBA schools, and indeed had three offers on the table, none could compete with the exposure to a global setting and the brand that Georgetown McDonough could offer. He adds that he turned down a 50% scholarship offer from another school to pursue his MBA in Washington, DC.
Homero’s advice to prospective applicants to Georgetown McDonough’s MBA is to attend the Welcome Weekend—it was the people he met there, he says, that convinced him he was taking the right path.
“I spoke to the current first-year students and I can remember one conversation that tipped the balance towards Georgetown,” he recalls.
Homero spoke to a woman who explained she was in a very similar situation to him. She had a full scholarship offer from another school but still picked Georgetown McDonough. “At the end of the day,” Homero says, “I realized that Georgetown had something else, and for me that was the tipping point.”
Before the interview process, Homero says MBA applicants to Georgetown McDonough's School of Business should know what they want from the program. Homing in on your personal brand is equally important.
“Make a list of all of your strong points that you can sell in the application, because you have to come across as a well-rounded person,” he explains, “not only academically, and with job experience, but also extra-curricular activities are well depicted in your profile.”
Gather together your most meaningful stories, he advises, and have them organized down to a tee. Stories that communicate leadership, problem solving, communication. But don’t sacrifice personality.
“In the end, when interviewing with the admissions officer, I think the most important thing was not only to convey my ideas but to have a meaningful touch point,” Homero says.
“It was not only about selling myself, but getting to know the admissions officer, because when you focus more on the person it becomes more meaningful.”