Doing the Math on Emory Admissions
Julie Barefoot is the director of MBA admissions at Emory University's Goizueta Business School. She began working there in 1988 and has held both admissions and student-services positions at the university. Previously, Barefoot worked as a commercial loan officer. She recently spoke with BusinessWeek.com reporter Alina Dizik. Here are edited excerpts of their conversation:
Are you seeing more applications now than in the recent past?
We're up both in one-year and two-year programs. I suspect it will be a pretty consistent trend. It's easily up about 25% right now. What we're particularly excited about is the applicant pool. What we're trying to do is shift our international recruiting travel schedule to try to interview a larger percentage of our candidates in person.
What's the most unusual or difficult essay question on your application and what's your advice to students on how to answer it?
The question has to do with the most significant accomplishment. I don't know that it's a difficult question but people sometimes don't answer it as thoroughly as I would expect. People need to take it as an opportunity to effectively sell themselves.
What do students tell you is the hardest part of the admissions process?
I think a lot of the time candidates don't realize how time-consuming getting the recommenders to complete recommendations really is. They think if they send it to someone a person will turn it around in a week or two. But these are typically busy people and need an adequate amount of planning to write a thoughtful response—they are not going to dash something off if they really like the candidate.
Do students apply in rounds? Are there any benefits to being in an earlier round?
We are a little different from a lot of our competition; I tell candidates that they should apply when their application is ready. Submitting an application at the first round isn't necessarily the best option, but I don't believe they should wait until the very last round. We do have rolling admissions, so those are kind of guidelines to give people benchmarks.
What do you look for in applicants' essays?
First and foremost is their ability to communicate effectively in the English language for both domestic and international candidates. Also that it's organized and answers the question, while providing insight into the candidate's experience. We can learn quite a bit through reading the essay. And in an ideal world it needs to be interesting to read.
What are some common mistakes and how do you suggest students prevent them?
Spell-check. I am still amazed at essays that have misspelled words on them. There's no excuse for typos in an essay. I understand that they can misspell Goizueta, but you ought to figure out how to spell the name; it needs to be correct in the essay. There are other times when I read an essay and the person has a good job and a good salary and they don't choose to...