PrepAdviser had the opportunity to meet Rachel Waites, Director of Recruitment and Admissions, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, London campus. Our conversation with her reveals what it takes to gain admission to the Chicago Booth EMBA.
[0:38] Q: How can applicants best demonstrate their suitability for the Chicago Booth EMBA?
[0:45] A: There isn’t really such a thing as a typical candidate on our EMBA programme. There are a few average statistics I can tell you. Our students are, on average, 37-38 years old, with 12 years’ experience. So we are not really looking for people from a specific industry or specific background. I think when it comes to conveying suitability, it’s about demonstrating what you can contribute to the programme. Through the essays, through the application, through the interview, you will help us understand where you want to go and how we can help you get there. We want to understand what you want to do in the future.
[1:41] Q: What are some common mistakes that applicants can easily avoid during the application process?
[1:47] A: Instead of being yourself and writing in your own style, pretending to be someone that you are not. It’s better just to be honest. As I’ve just mentioned, we are not looking for a specific candidate, so we would rather know more about you and your goals. And the second mistake is really obvious: just make sure you write your own application. There’s often a big disconnect when you see a perfectly written essay and then you meet the person face-to-face and it becomes clear that they haven’t written their own essay. By all means have somebody check your work, have a friend spellcheck your essay and check it for grammar, but you should definitely write your own essay.
[2:53] Q: And when it comes to the interview, what are some good questions that applicants can ask?
[3:00] A: Asking any questions is always good. I hate it when I’m sitting in an interview and I get to the end and I say ‘have you got any questions for me’? And there’s just a blank face. Having a couple of questions prepared is always good. I have worked for Chicago Booth since 2008, nearly 10 years now. My favourite question is when people ask me what I like about working here. It gives me the chance to talk about what I think is important about the school and everyone likes talking about themselves a little bit. If you do have any specific question about the application process or the programme, feel free to ask. There’s no shame in admitting that you want more information about something.
[4:03] Q: Some EMBA programmes also require employer endorsement. Can you talk about Chicago Booth’s policy on that?
[4:12] A: If we admit you to the programme, we will need a letter from your boss acknowledging that you are doing the programme and agreeing to give you the time off. But we only need that at the end of the process. You don’t have to worry about providing us with that letter upfront. However, we will need contact details of two people who can provide a recommendation for you, and we would like one of those to be from your supervisor. But I think it’s a personal decision about whether you want us to discuss your application with your boss upfront before you have an offer or wait until afterwards. So that’s something you can speak to us about during the application process.
[5:01] Q: What are the admissions tests required for admission?
[5:08] A: We require only one test – the Executive Assessment or the GMAT. My recommendation would be to take the Executive Assessment just because it’s shorter and requires less preparation than the GMAT. The programme has been designed for people from all sorts of different backgrounds. The Executive Assessment means everyone starts on a level playing field. But people definitely need some time preparing for the executive assessment, and we can give personal feedback on the scores we are looking for.
[5:51] Q: And when it comes to the GMAT, are there particular sections of the test that you prefer or look at more closely?
[6:00] A: Good question. The quantitative section is the most important for us. So with the Executive Assessment we are really looking to make sure that people can cope with the quantitative element of this programme.
[6:19] Q: Can you say how a test score affects the possibility for a scholarship?
[6:29] A: For us, the score is just one piece of the whole application. If you have a good test score, then I think that is a good indication of your academic ability and it will certainly help you apply for a scholarship. The scholarship committee looks for academic excellence in addition to other things, so yes, it would definitely help.