Wendy Flynn is the associate director of the MBA program at Texas A&M University's Mays Business School (Ranked in the third tier of BusinessWeek's 2004 list of top MBA programs in College Station, where she has guided applicants through the MBA admissions process for seven years. An admissions veteran, Flynn worked at Baylor and West Virginia universities before arriving at Mays. Flynn holds a B.A. from Texas A&M and an M.A. from West Virginia.
She says she looks for students who fit into Texas A&M's "competitively collegial" environment through evidence of leadership and teamwork. Flynn recently talked with BusinessWeek Online reporter Jeffrey Gangemi. Here are edited excerpts of their conversation:
Q: Have MBA applications gone up or down in the past few years?
A: Applications for fall, 2004 were consistent with the year before. We have about 144 students now, but we would like to increase that to around 180 in the near future. By fall, 2005, I think we will reach our goal of 90 students in the incoming class. We have some aggressive recruiting measures in place, as well as some appealing scholarship opportunities. We have already admitted high-quality students.
Q: How do GMAT scores weigh into your decision?
A: Our average for fall 2004 was 637, and we'd like to maintain that or go slightly higher. It's only a predictor of first-year performance in an MBA program, but it is important because it is the only consistent judge of every candidate. The first nine months [of the 16-month program] are extremely challenging, so students need to be able to perform well quantitatively.
Q: How important is work experience?
A: The general rule of thumb for us is about two years of work experience. We are open to considering applicants with less than that if they have other experiences that serve as substitutes, like a solid internship during their undergraduate study or a strong student leadership role. You can come to us from just about any industry. We're looking to develop a participatory environment by assembling a group of people who will bring their unique perspectives into the classroom.
Q: What is a successful application essay to you?
A: It needs to be well written and carefully crafted to be compelling. We read a lot of essays every day, and we really appreciate those students who do the work to make their essay stand out from the crowd. To do that, applicants should write about a unique experience or attribute that demonstrates what they can bring to a work or intellectual environment. The committee prefers to see professional and personal accomplishments.
Another important thing that we want to see is that the applicant has thought through this decision, and can connect previous experiences with what they hope to get out of an MBA program. We also look closely at the GMAT essays, because they are written in a controlled environment, where an applicant can't do any proofreading.
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