What Fisher Wants: "Be Yourself"

That's the word from Ohio State's B-school admissions head Michelle Jacobson, who's also looking for community-minded applicants

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Michelle Jacobson is the director of graduate programs at Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business. She oversees full-time and part-time MBA admissions, all of the business school's PhD programs, the master's in accounting program, and the master's in labor and human resources.

Previously, Jacobson was the interim director of the office and associate director of student services for the university. She received her master's degree in student personnel work and higher education in 1984 from Ohio State, and her bachelor's degree in elementary education in 1981 from the State University College at Buffalo, New York. Jacobson recently spoke with BusinessWeek Online reporter Mica Schneider by e-mail and phone. Here's an edited transcript of their discussion:

Q: Why do you think the number of applications you received in 2003 was lower than in the past? In 2003, the Fisher College received 708 applications to enroll a class of about 165.


As at many of our peers, full-time MBA applications are down. One of the main reasons is the current economic climate. Many people who might normally be full-time MBA candidates are worried more about lost salary and the challenges of reentering the workforce than about making an investment in their future.

Q: How many applicants do you expect to receive in this current admissions cycle?


About 1,000.

Q: Taking into account what you see after your first couple of admissions deadlines, are your applicants as strong as in the past?


Our applicant pool is actually stronger. Applicants have more diverse work experience, compelling personal essays, and strong GMAT scores. In addition, the students who are choosing to enter a full-time MBA program know exactly why they want an MBA and are taking the application process very seriously.

Q: Your office gave the nod to 43% of its applicants in 2003. How many will you accept in 2004?


The percentage of students we'll admit should be around 40%. But I won't know for certain until the end of the final deadline, Apr. 30.

Q: When's the best time to apply to Fisher's MBA program?


Early. International applicants interested in merit-based scholarships should have applied by November 28, 2003, to allow processing time for visas. Domestic applicants interested in merit-based scholarships should have applied by December 30, 2003.

The last official application deadline is April 30, 2004, when we expect to have more than 70% of our class filled. Applications received after that date will be reviewed as we have space available. However, we'll never fill our class just to reach certain numbers. We're committed to maintaining the high caliber of our class profile.

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