The Smith School experienced a record-setting increase of 30 percent in applications to its full time MBA program during the 2013-2014 recruiting cycle. Despite the fact that the number of GMAT test-takers has declined, indicating that interest in the MBA degree is falling somewhat nationwide, Smith remains attractive to top MBA candidates. Smith received 817 applications for 100 slots in the full-time MBA program in 2014. The school offered admission to 28 percent of applicants, a significant improvement in selectivity from 36 percent in 2013.
Ken White, associate dean of MBA and MS programs, attributes the rise both to the MBA program’s excellent ranking (No. 24 in Bloomberg Businessweek) and an emphasis on personal, face-to-face interactions with prospective students.
The change in recruiting strategy is the result of an initiative set in place two years ago to create a “high touch,” highly individualized admissions process.
“We have a very closely-knit, high touch community in the Smith School’s full time MBA program,” says White. “We approach admissions in a similar way in that we focus on the individual. Our numerous activities and events for prospective students and their guests also give applicants the opportunity to network with current students, faculty, alumni and staff so they experience the Smith School Family.”
Members of Smith’s admissions team spend time with prospects getting to know them and their goals. Professional staff from the school’s Office of Career Services attend admitted student events to meet prospects and learn about their post-MBA career aspirations. Top administrators from the school, including Dean Alex Triantis, Vice Dean Joyce Russell and White, communicate regularly with admitted students. “The leadership team is very close with our students. That relationship begins during the admissions process,” says White.
This is all part of the school’s strategy to create the kind of supportive MBA community that contributes to success in Smith’s extremely collaborative, hands-on curriculum.
“It’s making people feel comfortable and supported. The MBA journey at a top tier program like ours is a challenging journey. Having support as a student makes the experience very positive. “