A Talk with UMich's Admissions Director

Kris Nebel on how applications are evaluated, the do's and don'ts of essays, and the Supreme Court's decision on admissions policies

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Recruiters have long been enchanted with graduates of the University of Michigan Business School. Praise from Corporate America for everything from the financial acumen to the technological skill of Michigan MBAs helped land the school at No. 8 in BusinessWeek's latest B-school rankings. Kris Nebel, director of admissions at MBS since 1999, spoke recently with BusinessWeek Online reporter Brian Hindo about application trends, new essay questions, and the Supreme Court's decision on Michigan's undergraduate and law-school admissions policies. Here are edited excerpts of their conversation:

Q: What are the defining characteristics of a Michigan student? Some schools have a reputation for being teamwork-oriented, while others draw more competitive, individualistic students. Where does Michigan fall on that spectrum?


More on the side of team interaction. You aren't going to do well in this program if you prefer to run through it on your own. It's a competitive program, but students aren't going to succeed at the sacrifice of others in their class.

What we're looking for -- I think the difference that you see in our program -- are students who want to take knowledge and theory and put it into action while they're in the program.

It's that action-based learning component of our program that's the signature piece of Michigan. You need to be interested in getting into it while you're here -- jumping in with two feet. Our dean will say, "This isn't a puppet show." We're not looking for folks who are just going to sit back and have the faculty profess their knowledge. It's a partnership -- one in which students are engaged, whether it's in or outside the classroom.

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