Chat with MBA Admissions — May 20, 2011
Thanks for joining us to talk about the Rady School and our MBA program. We look forward to your questions.
I have enrolled in a GMAT test prep course since it's been a while that I was in school. What is the last possible date that you'll accept an application for this coming fall? When would you absolutely need my GMAT scores?
We always have late applicants to the FlexMBA, and we've generally been very able to work individually with motivated applicants. What we'd suggest is that you work on your application and submit it as soon as you feel it represents you well. You'll see there's a place on the application to let us know when you've scheduled the GMAT. This allows our admissions team to pull together your application file, do a preliminary review, and be ready to move immediately with a full review when we have your scores. We will need/want to have students confirmed in their enrollment by early August (at the very latest). Before that we need to have your application, review it and interview you, have admissions committee make a decision, etc. I'd suggest you make an appointment to talk directly to one of our admissions team so we can help lay out process and timing for you.
What kind of networking opportunities do you offer to flex students?
We've carefully worked to ensure that Flex students have good opportunities. Beyond the study teams in your own class cohort and the opportunity to take electives and project courses with students from other cohorts, we have things like an Executive Mentor program that is available to our flex students. This is a group of industry advisors who provide guidance and feedback on your capstone project sequence, Lab to Market, and make up the Professional Seminar series, which brings senior leaders and business experts to campus to speak. Our career center also has a group of advisors that form the business community.
When will you be able to let students know if they are admitted?
We are typically able to provide a decision in 3-4 weeks from having a completed application. In part, the timeline is determined by how quickly we're able to schedule an admissions interview with you. We interview everyone we're interested in - so everyone who is in the class has had an interview.
What is the average GMAT score for the FlexMBA Evening program?
For the FlexEvening program, the average has typically been around 620. For our Flex program, where students are generally more experienced than our FT program, we do pay more attention to your professional background and accomplishments, as these are important in putting together a class where everyone will contribute to the group's learning.
Can you also talk more about what is involved in the Lab to Market?
Lab to Market (L2M) is a 3-course sequence that focuses on innovation and how innovation reaches the marketplace. Think of it as "idea to marketplace" and as a kind of "lab" experience for you as a student. The first part looks at how all the core business disciplines you've learned apply to making good business decisions about innovation. Then you move into a major project that is team-based and focuses on identifying a specific innovation and playing it through to a business plan and presentation. What's different from other MBA capstone projects is that students pick the innovations to focus on. Rady provides lots of resources for finding these, but an important part of your learning in the sequence is about the actual decision-making regarding what project is worth doing. Writing a business plan for a good idea is not that hard: determining what idea, on what business model, is worth bothering with, is far more complex. This is critical for established companies as well as entrepreneurs.
A bit more on L2M: Flex students sometimes find really interesting projects inside their existing companies, and doing such a project can change the way your organization perceives you and your capabilities. We have an alum at Qualcomm who is running a several million dollar business that grew from his L2M project.
I was looking at your class list. What are some of the most successful projects you've seen come out of lab to market?
Do remember it's not an incubator: if we wanted to run an incubator, we'd vet opportunities, select good ideas, and then have students work on them. What we're interested in is developing entrepreneurially minded managers and leaders—so it's less about the specific idea now and more about your impact over your career in moving innovation forward. There certainly are some things that come out of L2M that make it to reality: internal projects at companies are often on this list, and we've had HP, Qualcomm, Amylin, NASSCO, Roche projects. We've also seen a few company launches that have continued: a few that come to mind are in the stem cell space; the application of technology (RFID tagging), the action sports space, and e-commerce, among other things.
Can you tell us of any common mistakes to avoid in the application process?
A couple of things come to mind. (1) Recommendations: title/stature doesn't matter nearly as much as whether your recommender knows you well and is interested enough to spend time really answering the questions we ask. Someone who has an example and will tell us about it gives us lots more information that someone who writes a couple sentences. (2) Essays: we don't have a specific answer we're looking for on that "what did you learn/what are your goals question. It's really about how you've been able to reflect on and evaluate yourself and your hopes and goals. There isn't a "right" answer.
What are the outside-of-the class resources available to students? I would like to know that I am able to obtain assistance if needed.
Academic and career advising is available—and easily available on your class schedule. Teaching assistants and review sessions are part of core classes - and again available on your schedule. Review sessions can be videotaped so you have access if you're not able to come to them. For our Flex program, we will videotape a class session if you're going to be absent for work reasons and you let us know: we want you to be able to catch up and gain the learning. Our IT help desk is open when you're on campus. There's more: overall, we want to be sure you have the support that will enable you to make the most of the educational opportunity.
Do you ever allow Flex students to take off the summer, or do they have to continue going to school year round?
The program is scheduled out to include summers. There is certainly flexibility once you've completed the core to accelerate or decelerate your program if work or personal circumstances necessitate this. In addition, if something major occurs—you’re deployed, a major family emergency, you get a new job (maybe even outside SD)—we always want to work with you individually to make sure you have an academic plan that will enable you to complete the program.
Are all classes taken on Tuesday/Thursdays including electives?
T/TH is when core courses are schedule. Once we move into electives, there will always be some on those evenings, but we also make use of other evenings to maximize your choices.
Wells Fargo seems like a major contributor to Rady. Are there any plans to incorporate a more banking/investment focus into the program later on?
We have a great finance faculty. I'd encourage you to take a look at their bios and their areas of interest, if you haven't already done so. We are adding two new finance faculty for this coming year. So, our range of finance electives will continue to grow. We do have a fair number of students interested in financial services, although a lot of that interest reflects the SD finance community - we have more students interested in private equity, venture capital, hedge funds and investment management, than in traditional investment banking. The coursework provides a great foundation for a finance career. The Rady Venture Fund and the VC Management course that goes along with it is a great opportunity for interested students.
We do hope you'll come and visit a class, as well as meet current students. The learning environment and the engagement of students is a really important part of what you want to assess as you consider schools: where will you be able to learn and develop, be supported and be challenged in ways that will really propel you forward. MBA Admissions is happy to work with you to find a time to come to our campus for a visit.