Chat Transcript: Kellogg Admissions

If you're among the many people planning to wait out the economic crisis at business school, then you might be considering Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. Kellogg reports that it accepted 19% of the 5,051 applicants it had for the Class of 2010.

Applications are up slightly in 2009, says Beth Flye (BethFlyeKellogg), assistant dean and director of admissions at Kellogg, who recently answered questions from the audience and BusinessWeek reporter Francesca Di Meglio (FrancescaBW) during a live chat event. Flye talked about everything from getting off the waiting list to post-graduation job prospects. Here are edited excerpts of the chat:

ToddLA: I've heard that Kellogg is known for its focus on marketing. Does it lean toward [applicants] with marketing backgrounds in a person's career experience?

BethFlyeKellogg: From an admissions standpoint, we are not necessarily giving an edge to any candidate with marketing experience who wants to pursue marketing post-MBA. Our approach is that we are looking at candidates with a very holistic lens including diversity of professional experiences.

emanon: What are application numbers like compared with [2008]?

BethFlyeKellogg: Applications are up slightly this year, and the pool continues to be exceptional.

ADMBA09: As a wait-listed applicant, what can one do to show continued interest with Kellogg aside from letters of update? Also, does Kellogg offer feedback on individual applications for applicants placed on the wait list?

BethFlyeKellogg: Continued interest from a wait-listed applicant is noted. Beyond expressing continued interest, please let us know if there is any pertinent additional information that would be helpful to us in making a final decision. Examples of such information would include a promotion, a new GMAT score, a grade from a course, etc. As for giving feedback to wait-listed applicants, we share information as we think is appropriate.

ToddLA: What distinguishes Kellogg from other top-tier MBA schools in the country? [Think of this question as] an elevator pitch for the school, if you will.

BethFlyeKellogg: There are many elements that make Kellogg unique. I would highlight that teamwork and collaboration are core to who we are as a school. Second, we have a holistic approach to management education. We combine rigor with relevance, and we have an emphasis on developing global leaders who make contributions of lasting significance.

ahembeea: Have some of those on the Round 1 wait list already begun to receive their decisions?

BethFlyeKellogg: Yes, some wait-listed applicants from the first round have received admission.

ToddLA: What sector feeds most into Kellogg, and where do graduates go after graduation?

BethFlyeKellogg: We have students who represent a broad range of interests, with the three most represented sectors being finance, consulting, and marketing. One of our biggest strengths is the diversity of recruiters. As a matter of fact, over 260 recruiters hired the Class of 2008.

Tifoso: How is the Round 2 pool currently looking in terms of capacity, with only two weeks left to go until the decision deadline? Is it fair to say that over 50% of the typical Round 2 pool has already been selected or admitted?

BethFlyeKellogg: We have evaluated most of the Round 2 pool, and we will continue to admit candidates all the way up to the Mar. 30 deadline.

Atsushi: Could you speak briefly about any curriculum or other changes at Kellogg that are in response to the current economic situation?

BethFlyeKellogg: Issues raised by the economic crisis have been integrated quickly and organically into the Kellogg curriculum. We also encourage an open forum and ongoing discussion on current news and developments by way of distinguished lecture series, faculty finance blogs, and finance-oriented experiential learning classes.

KidA: Can you tell us a bit about what you look for in an MMM applicant vs. an MBA applicant? [The MMM Program is a dual-degree program that integrates management, operations, and design, from concept to execution.] There was a small flurry of acceptances last week, and the remaining MMM applicants are beginning to worry.

BethFlyeKellogg: The evaluative lens is similar when reviewing an MMM applicant vs. an applicant for the MBA program. We want to see evidence of strong quantitative ability in an MMM application, and we are looking for clarity about why a person is seeking the MMM program.

hope962: I was wondering what value is placed on extracurricular activities compared with other admissions criteria?

BethFlyeKellogg: Extracurricular activities are one of many areas of criteria that we take into account. Extracurricular involvements help us to understand more about your interests beyond work and the classroom.

vigrub: Are JD-MBA decisions released on a rolling basis like MBA-only decision, or are they released separately?

BethFlyeKellogg: JD-MBA decisions are released on a rolling basis as well.

natasha19: Do you have any preliminary numbers on how the class of 2009 did securing jobs and how the class of 2010 is doing with internships?

BethFlyeKellogg: Formal and informal indicators tell us that full-time job placement for our second-year students is on a par with where it has been at this point during the past few years. We don't have formal numbers on those who have received internships at this point. Historically speaking, half our students generally secure internships after spring break.

dxie: I want to ask about Round 3, which is the last round. I know it's going to be more competitive than the first two rounds. Could you please tell me at this point how many spots are available for the last round?

BethFlyeKellogg: We do not have a set number of slots for Round 3. We admit most of the class during the first two rounds, but we will extend some offers to candidates in the third round.

natasha19: Are potential students able to visit campus during the summer and speak with MBA students?

BethFlyeKellogg: Yes, prospective candidates can visit Kellogg during the summer and have the opportunity to talk with some of our one-year-program students who begin the program in late June.

MBAPros: Could you speak about the cohort structure at Kellogg and the how study groups/learning teams are formed?

BethFlyeKellogg: Students begin their Kellogg experience by being in a particular section. They take their core strategy class with their section. After that, students are free to choose their own classes and group mates. This approach gives students maximum exposure to different working styles and group dynamics.

natasha19: Do you feel nine months is enough time for re-applicants to strengthen their applications or are you looking for them to take a couple of years before reapplying?

BethFlyeKellogg: Each re-applicant case is unique. For example, one person may need to work for one to two additional years. Other people may need to be clearer about their career goals and reasons for the MBA, which could take less time than that. Again, each case is different.

ahembeea: When will most of the Round 1 wait-listed applicants receive a decision? Would it extend to Round 3 or should most of the Round 1 wait-listed applicants expect to hear by April?

BethFlyeKellogg: We do not have a firm deadline for when all Round 1 wait-listed applicants will have a final decision. The wait list is reviewed periodically, and we admit as we need to do so throughout the cycle.

Wael: Can the quality of a recommendation letter keep me out of Kellogg? The culture in Europe (France) is not the same as in the U.S. People can't say that you are great even if they think so.

BethFlyeKellogg: About 34% of our student population is international, so we are familiar with the variances in tone/content of recommendation letters. Remember that this is one of several criteria that we review when evaluating an application.

ahembeea: Like most other top schools, even Kellogg experienced a rise in Round 1 applications. Has the trend continued in Round 2 and now Round 3, or has it been different?

BethFlyeKellogg: Similar to last year, we had a more pronounced increase during the first round compared with the second.

billscafan: Can you address what Kellogg looks for specifically in an applicant's work experience?

BethFlyeKellogg: We are most interested in the quality of a person's experience. By quality, I mean we are looking for things such as leadership, scope of responsibility, progression, initiative, impact on the organization, etc.

ToddLA: Did anything surprise you when you started in admissions? Was there a relevant piece of the puzzle that prospective applicants might overlook?

BethFlyeKellogg: Interesting question! I was amazed, and continue to be, by the exceptional quality of the Kellogg applicants. One simple but very important thing that candidates sometimes overlook is being themselves. All applicants are unique, and what we want to see is their story told in a very authentic way.

Tifoso: Is Kellogg a re-applicant-friendly school? What percentage of your admitted students in a given year would you roughly say are re-applicants?

BethFlyeKellogg: This figure varies greatly from year to year.

billscafan: Are essay questions for next year's application going to stay relatively the same as this year? Or do you foresee a vast change considering the nature of the economy and the applicant pool in the next year?

BethFlyeKellogg: We will be reviewing the essays shortly after the season, and the questions should be posted by mid-July.

Wael: What is the impact of the TOEFL? Is there any minimum requirement?

BethFlyeKellogg: The TOEFL is one element that we examine when assessing an applicant's English language communication skills. There is no minimum requirement, and we also take into account the interview and essays when evaluating this area.

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