The month was June, but the company was august when admissions personnel from eight of the country’s leading business schools and the Alvah H. Chapman Graduate School of Business spoke to sixty students from Florida International University about the value of the MBA degree. The road show, an activity of the Ten School Diversity Alliance (TSDA), included:
- comments from alumni of TSDA schools who work in the Miami area about what future MBA students can expect from the graduate experience,
- a panel during which speakers explained what undergraduates need to know about preparing to apply to MBA programs, and
- an MBA fair at which the schools gave out marketing materials and answered questions about their offerings.
“Hearing the comments from the panelists was very helpful because we learned what the top schools are looking for and realized that we’re looking for the same things: commitment, quality, experience, and energy,” said Paola Moreno, associate director, International Graduate Programs, who helped organize the Alvah H. Chapman Graduate School of Business’s participation. “We also realized that the quality of our programs is putting us in a position to attract the same students as these schools.”
“We are number eighteen in International MBAs; number four for one-year programs, according to U.S. News & World Report; and we also are consistently in the top twenty-five MBAs for Hispanics according to Hispanic Trends—rankings that put us in the prestigious company of TSDA member schools,” said Luis Casas, the College of Business Administration’s director of marketing and recruiting.
Panel provides concrete suggestions for prospective MBA candidates.
Sarah Perez, director of the Executive MBA and Professional MBA in the Chapman School, joined the itinerant panelists, explaining to the attendees the importance of work experience and what schools will be looking at in terms of that experience when they evaluate applicants.
“Since most programs require fulltime work experience averaging three to five years, this is an important topic,” said Erika Y. Gravett, associate director of admissions for the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, who moderated the panel. “We all expect students to bring work experience into the classroom, so post-college work is crucial.”
Panelists from the business schools at Chicago, Columbia, Darden, Kellogg, Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton joined Perez and Gravett and spoke about the undergraduate GPA, the GMAT and when to take it, extra-curricular activities (including community service), essays, interviews, letters of recommendation, relationships with mentors, and many other practical topics. MIT and UCLA were the only TSDA members not present.
“Not only did we learn a lot about what other schools are seeking, but also, being part of the discussion was great exposure for us,” Moreno said. “Our undergraduate students could see how well we measure up against the other universities.”
According to Tiffany Showell, co-founder of TSDA and diversity manager at Genentech in South San Francisco, the university is in the top tier of schools TDSA wants to alert to the value of the MBA.
“Howard University, Morehouse College, Spellman College, and the University of Texas at Austin also have the kind of student population we are trying to reach,” she said.