Ohio State: MBA Admissions Tips

Fisher College of Business admissions chief Alison Merzel talks about the school and explains what it takes to get in

Alison Merzel is admissions director of the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University. She joined the admissions team after completing her Master of Labor & Human Resources at Fisher. Prior to that she worked in advertising and media planning. Merzel recently shared some advice for Fisher applicants with BusinessWeek.com reporter Alina Dizik. Here are edited excerpts of the discussion:

Are you seeing more applications now than in the recent past?

We've definitely seen an increase. Last time I checked there was about a 40% increase. At this point it's more international applicants than domestic.

What's the most unusual or difficult essay question on your application?

One of the essays is an opportunity for the applicant to choose two different personal traits that we have identified as being characteristic of a leader, and we ask them to give us some sort of example. They then have the opportunity to write two small essays, or send in two objects and write a brief description of the objects.

What's your advice to students on how to answer it?

Applicants should be themselves and recognize that we are reading a lot of essays. So it helps (if they have a chance) to be creative and send in a photo or some sort of object or anything that helps bring light to why they are a passionate person.

What do students tell you is the hardest part of the admissions process at Ohio State?

I think for a lot of students it's an opportunity for self-reflection. They have to evaluate: Why am I doing this, what are my goals, why did I decide to make this choice. We get so much different feedback about our application process that it's hard to give just one example.

Do students apply in rounds? Are there any benefits to being in an earlier round?

We have university-wide fellowship competition on Nov. 15 for international students who wish to be considered for fellowships. So certainly if our international students are focused on merit-based funding we encourage them to apply early. After that it's rolling admissions with recommended application deadlines of Dec. 31, Mar. 15, and May 30, but we encourage students to apply early.

What do you look for in applicants' essays?

We're looking to see if students can communicate effectively, especially international students. We also want to gather insight on...

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