Natacha Keramidas is director of MBA admissions at the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona in Tucson (listed in BusinessWeek's 2002 rankings for third-tier, full-time MBA programs.) She joined Eller in April, 2003, but has admissions experience from previous work at Babson College and at the Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, which has ties to the Wharton School through a dual-degree program.
Keramidas recently shared some advice for Eller applicants with BusinessWeek Online reporter, Mica Schneider. Here are edited excerpts of the discussion:
Q: Arizona saw a 28% decrease in MBA applications this past admissions season. How competitive was the selection process?
A: We had to be strategic. We focussed on yield. We were able to enroll a larger class than last year of 70 students [without lowering admissions standards].
Q: When is the best time to apply?
A: Early, particularly if [applicants] want to be considered for a scholarship. We admit 75% of our class by the second deadline, Feb. 15.
Q: What sort of applicant is a good match for Eller?
A: Someone who wants to have an impact and make the most out of the experience.
Q: The experience?
A: For instance, at Eller there are opportunities for hands-on, experiential learning. MBAs are required to do a semester-long field project with companies. The MBAs work in teams as consultants on real projects. We also put a lot of emphasis on professional skills and communication in a mandatory course run by the business-communications department in the first year of the program.
Our students are very involved in the community, and we form a very close-knit community. If you're not interested in networking and developing close relationships with the faculty, your classmates, and members of the community, this wouldn't be a good program for you.
Q: The school just launched a new curriculum. What changed?
A: To give MBAs more time [for] extracurricular activities, we reduced their course load from 18 credits per semester to 15. Out of the 60 [total course] credits, MBAs can take two classes anywhere in the university, in any discipline. In addition, they can do up to six credits of independent study.
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