(Beth Flye's response to the 13th question has been changed to clarify that Kellogg does not have a special preference for applicants entering the consulting field.)
Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management (Kellogg Full-Time MBA Profile), which BusinessWeek ranked No.3 in its 2008 ranking of best business schools, remains popular with MBA applicants. In 2009, Kellogg admissions accepted 19% of the 5,268 applicants. Recently, Beth Flye (BethFlyeKellogg), assistant dean and director of admissions at Kellogg, and Carla Edelston (CarlaEdelston), senior associate director of the school's Career Management Center, fielded questions from prospective students and Bloomberg BusinessWeek reporter Francesca Di Meglio (FrancescaBW) during a live online chat. Here are edited excerpts of their conversation, which included everything from how to prepare for the admissions interview to career placement specialties.
Kapilm: Do you weight extracurricular activities?
BethFlyeKellogg: There is no assigned weight or value given to extracurricular activities, as that area is one of many criteria we take into account. However, we do review extracurricular activities as that area shows us more about the applicant—i.e., his/her passions, involvements—as well as [allowing us to] learn more about that person's leadership and team involvements beyond work.
Jarias84: How important are GMAT scores?
BethFlyeKellogg: A range of GMAT scores is represented in the pool of admitted applicants. The average score for the class that matriculated in 2009 was 707.
ktrbucks: I already have debt from my undergraduate program. Do you have any advice on how I can finance a graduate degree?
BethFlyeKellogg: We do have students at Kellogg with undergraduate debt, so know that it is definitely possible to finance your Kellogg MBA with those circumstances. Feel free to contact our Financial Aid Office at email@example.com so that you can discuss this further with one of our officers.
toamarnath: Where have you placed students with a background in computer consulting?
CarlaEdelston: Students who have a background in software consulting go in a number of different directions ranging from functional roles in tech companies to strategy consulting. We don't "place" students but we provide tools so that you can do an effective job search.
BrianM: Can you compare and contrast the number of applications you've received this year vs. last?
BethFlyeKellogg: Our applications are slightly up compared with this time last year. There are no dramatic differences between the rounds thus far and the quality continues to be strong.
MBADC: Carla, what kind of resources does Kellogg offer to alumni in terms of career services after they earn their MBA and how does this set Kellogg apart from other schools?
CarlaEdelston: Kellogg is one of the only schools that offers free, unlimited career counseling to alums. In addition to individual counseling, we offer virtual job clubs, webinars, and turbo job workshops.
cerro: What if your GMAT is less impressive than your undergrad GPA? Does that hurt your chances of getting in?
BethFlyeKellogg: Remember that we do not weight any area of criteria including the GMAT score. When assessing one's intellectual ability, we examine the GMAT and the person's undergraduate performance. As an example, if your quantitative score was not as competitive and if you had never had a quant class, I would encourage you to take a statistics course to be more competitive, and to further prepare yourself to be a student.
Justina: As there are three rounds of admissions, does applying by the first round give an applicant any advantage?
BethFlyeKellogg: My response to your question is as follows: 1) Apply when you are ready as that is what is most important. 2) We strongly encourage candidates to apply for one of the first two rounds.
Justina: From your perspective, what are the advantages/disadvantages of pursuing a full-time MBA vs. part time?
CarlaEdelston: In the part-time program you are able to apply what you are learning in real time, and you have the advantage of earning an income while you are studying. As for the two-year program, students have the opportunity to partake in a summer internship, which is helpful to career changers.
Psampat: What can one do to separate oneself from the rest of the application pool?
BethFlyeKellogg: The best way to differentiate yourself from other applicants is to be your authentic self. We want to hear and read "your voice" about who you are; be careful not to fall into the trap of trying to articulate who you think the admissions committee wants to see.
chunghwan: Could I update my TOEFL and/or GMAT scores after completing the application?
BethFlyeKellogg: Feel free to send us your most recent TOEFL/GMAT score after completion of your application. The sooner, the better.
Justina: The Web site offers various students' personal experiences and perspectives, but is it possible for prospective students to contact current students for additional questions?
BethFlyeKellogg: You can connect with current students who would be glad to correspond with you. To do so, go to the student clubs/organizations page on our Web site. Pick a club of your interest and you will see names and contact information for students.
mastermind: Does Kellogg give special preference to those going into consulting?
BethFlyeKellogg: We have an array of consulting experiences represented in the admit pool, but this is not a special preference. We want candidates with quality professional experience across a wide range of industries.
bsp2005: Do you expect much movement off of the Round One wait list before the Round Two notification deadline?
BethFlyeKellogg: We will be giving some final decisions to some wait-listed applicants, and we will extend offers as needed throughout the admissions cycle.
cerro: Carla, could you please comment on the job placement of Kellogg's international graduates (considering tight visa restrictions with even bulge-bracket firms)?
CarlaEdelston: For Kellogg, we have a network of more than 51,000 alums worldwide and have strong relationships with a diverse set of global firms. Many international students do both U.S. and home-region searches. The Career Management Center (CMC) provides students with the tools and resources for any kind of search.
gonzamarti: I have an MBA from an average university in South Florida (GPA 3.48). Would that help or hurt my application? I am currently out of work and using my free time to prepare and get my CFA certification. Will the CFA designation help show my commitment to intellectual advancement and dedication?
BethFlyeKellogg: Having an MBA already is not viewed as a disadvantage. However, I strongly encourage you to articulate why you are seeking a Kellogg MBA given that you already have a graduate degree in business. As for your CFA question, seeking the CFA certification would be viewed positively.
astonsanjur: Which scholarship opportunities are available on a merit basis at Kellogg?
BethFlyeKellogg: We have an array of merit-based scholarships at Kellogg ranging from $15,000 a year up to full tuition. No separate application is required as we screen each admitted applicant for scholarship consideration.
toamarnath: Can we do a part-time MBA with Kellogg?
CarlaEdelston: Yes, we have a part-time program, a two-year full-time program, and an executive MBA program. Feel free to visit our Web site for program descriptions.
JordanLombardi: Does the fact that Kellogg chooses to interview all applicants mean that the interview has a greater weight in the final decision than it does at other business schools?
BethFlyeKellogg: No areas of criteria, including the interview, are weighted. The value of the interview for us is that it is a great way to have and compare the "in person" perspective with the "paper" (application) perspective.
NickParsenuvia: I was wondering if visiting the school is taken into consideration in making admissions decisions.
BethFlyeKellogg: Candidates are welcome to visit Kellogg because we want each person to have his or her own personal perspective about the school. But a visit is not required as part of the application process.
Justina: How does Kellogg assist the first-year students in their search for summer internships?
CarlaEdelston: Our career workshop series for incoming students begins during their first week at Kellogg. The series continues weekly throughout the fall and is complemented by individual counseling appointments.
astonsanjur: Kellogg is known as a marketing/consulting powerhouse. Should students with a strong interest in investment banking and sales and trading have any hesitation about limiting their career prospects based upon any limited recruiting at Kellogg?
BethFlyeKellogg: People interested in investment banking and sales and trading should definitely add Kellogg to their consideration set. What is great about the Kellogg MBA is that the education gives you not only depth (for example, finance/banking/sales and trading expertise, etc.), but our students also gain the necessary breadth to become thought leaders in their respective fields.
CarlaEdelston: We pride ourselves on the diversity of industries with which we maintain active relationships. Many of our admissions materials, such as the Kellogg full-time viewbook, list major employers. Feel free to take a look to see the range of employers and types of companies that have hired our students.
psampat: What's considered a good "undergraduate performance"? I majored in bioengineering and had a 3.62 GPA. (I did mostly well in my engineering/math classes.) How does Kellogg assess what is considered to be good?
BethFlyeKellogg: We do not have a minimum GPA requirement for admission to Kellogg, but the very large majority of candidates that we admit have competitive grades. The average GPA for the class that entered Kellogg in 2009 was 3.53.
psampat: Is there an interview for Kellogg? If so, what's the best way to prepare for it?
BethFlyeKellogg: Kellogg applicants are required to request an interview, which can be conducted on campus or with an alumni interviewer in your local area. My advice on preparing for an interview is to use the same approach as if you were interviewing for a job: Know yourself and why you are pursuing business school, know the program, and make sure that the questions you have for the interviewer are thoughtful.
Justina: [When] are the application deadlines for 2010/2011 made available to the public?
BethFlyeKellogg: Justina, I estimate that the application deadlines for 2011 admission should be posted by early August 2010.
Ojmbagirl: I would like to know how long it usually takes after the interview to get the final admissions decision.
BethFlyeKellogg: The interview summary is submitted immediately following the interview, so that the application can be thoroughly reviewed.
crookedprocess: How competitive has the applicant pool been this year both in terms of quality and raw numbers?
BethFlyeKellogg: I am pleased to report that the quality of the applicant pool continues to be outstanding, and it is on par with the pools from recent years. As for the volume, we are slightly up compared with this time last year.
JordanLombardi: During this year's first round I heard that admitted candidates received the news two to three weeks before the final decision deadline. How do you plan to proceed with second-round applications? Will most of the decisions be communicated before the deadline or on the day of the deadline?
BethFlyeKellogg: Most of the decisions will be communicated before the deadline of Mar. 29.
mastermind: I have seen that some applicants' interviews are waived, and most of them were dinged in the end. Does that mean no interviews, then no tickets to get in?
BethFlyeKellogg: In areas where we have a greater demand for interviews compared with the number of alumni interviewers, some applicants will receive an interview waiver and this is not a disadvantage to the applicant.
Ghana: I had a GMAT score that is below the Kellogg average, but I have great undergrad performance. Is my chance of getting in still almost zero?
BethFlyeKellogg: Not necessarily. My advice is that if you are not satisfied with your GMAT score, retake it as we will focus on the highest score.