Chicago's PowerPoint experiment

Posted by: Alison Damast on May 19, 2008

There are a handful of admissions officers in the MBA world who are looking to shake up the business school application process. Rosemaria Martinelli, associate dean for student recruitment at The University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business, is one of them. She was behind the school’s decision last year to require applicants to submit up to four PowerPoint slides with pictures, graphics, or text, along with the two standard essay questions. I spoke with her today to learn how the PowerPoint experiment panned out and about her plans for the upcoming application cycle.

Martinelli reviewed thousands of PowerPoint submissions this year and said the decision to add the slides had "incredibly exceeded our expectations." Students used the slides to submit poetry, photos and write stories about themselves. Others used embedded images, while many stuck to the traditional white screen and bullet point format. The ones that stood out were from the students who showed a side of themselves that wasn't in the rest of their application, Martinelli said. "You could tell when someone figured out how to work with the ambiguity and really embraced that, rather than saying, 'I'm going to play it safe and regurgitate what is in my application already.'"

For now, it looks like the PowerPoint slide requirement is here to stay. Martinelli said the school plans to include the requirement in the next application -- which comes out in late June or early July -- though the school may "put some further context or shape around it." She expects other schools may soon follow suit with other creative application questions. "I've heard a buzz in the market, but we won't know until people announce officially what they're planning to do,” she said.

Reader Comments

June 11, 2009 10:18 AM

Good thing you aren't fishing for another masters at GSB

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