As the director of admissions and member of the Admissions Committee, I am often asked about the most important feature of an application. Is it the GMAT? GPA? Essays? The Admissions Committee for the Texas MBA program looks at the entire application holistically to determine overall best fit with the program. In other words, each piece is equally important, but for different reasons. Below, I discuss the various components of the application and why each is important. My goal is to help you construct the most competitive application possible. We typically receive most of our applications in the May/June timeframe, so there is still plenty of time to build a competitive application for Fall 2008.
Resume – Your resume is one of the first pieces we review, and is your chance to make a good first impression! Employment history is carefully evaluated for responsibilities, assignments, project and personnel management, special talents and skills, and promotions or increased levels of responsibility. In short, the resume should provide the committee with a basic snapshot of who you are and what you do. We prefer resumes to be no longer than two pages.
Essays – The essay portion of the application is where you can tell “your story” and expand on information from your resume. It is a great chance for you to set yourself apart from other applicants. Instead of simply rehashing work experience listed on your resume, I recommend highlighting those strengths, characteristics, skills and accomplishments that demonstrate what you would contribute to the class. Additionally, the committee looks to the essays to determine if we can help you reach your goals. The key here is to thoroughly research the program’s strengths, culture and curriculum and ensure that it matches your career goals and what you hope to get out of an MBA program. Be sure to clearly list both your short and long-term career goals in the second essay! Show us that you know who you are and where you are going.
Recommendation Letters – We require two professional letters of recommendation from associates who are closely familiar with your work. The committee likes to see letters that include specific examples of how you have displayed leadership, worked in a team and shown initiative. Remember, the committee is going to be much more impressed with a letter from your immediate manager that illustrates specific examples of your work rather than a letter from your company’s CEO that basically repeats information from your resume. Some of the best letters come from direct supervisors, clients, colleagues or employees.
Education- The Admissions Committee looks for strong academic achievement, evidenced by your college transcripts. Your Graduate Admissions GPA at The University of Texas at Austin is calculated by averaging your upper division (junior and senior year coursework) and any graduate-level work you may have completed. The quality of your undergraduate institution, as well as the rigor or difficulty of the particular degree, is always taken into consideration.
GMAT- The GMAT is required of all applicants, regardless of past educational or professional experience. The GMAT has historically been a very reliable indicator of how applicants will perform in the classroom, so your score helps us determine if you will succeed in our program, which is heavily quantitative in nature. Please keep in mind that this piece of your application is one of the only things you can go back and change. In other words, if you are not satisfied with your first score, you can take it again (as many times as you want, in fact) and we only use your highest score. I recommend a solid month or two of studying about 20 hours per week to prepare. Carving out time to study will also help you prepare for life as a working professional MBA student.
Interview- Every student admitted into the program will be interviewed, but not every applicant is invited in for an interview. The interview will take place with one member of the admissions committee and is behavioral in nature. Among other factors, the interview helps us determine what sort of team member and leader you will be. Collaboration is an exceptionally important part of our program and demonstrating that you are a good team player willing to carry your weight is a very important factor in completing the program successfully. Treat the interview just as you would a job interview. Research the program, prepare questions and dress professionally