Coyle also directed admissions for Cornell University's S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management. Her government experience ranges from having served as a presidential management intern at the U.S. Senate Budget Committee to working on budget issues in New York City for then-Mayor Ed Koch. Coyle holds a Masters of Public Administration from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and a B.A. in biological anthropology from Harvard College. She recently spoke with BusinessWeek Online reporter Jeffrey Gangemi. Here are edited excerpts of their conversation:
Q: What is your application schedule, and when is the best time to apply?
A: This year, our deadlines were at the end of October, the middle of January, and in the middle of March. If you can put together a good application for Round 1 or 2, then it's just a better bet. Applying in Round 3 is a little bit riskier. Our total number of applications is flat from last year at this time. The application numbers are down at most schools, so we consider ourselves lucky.
Q: How do you manage the waiting list?
A: This year our waiting list is pretty long, but we're not going to let huge numbers of people sit on it until August. When we're midway through our final round, we'll take a good hard look at the waiting list. By Apr. 29, the deadline for accepted applicants from Rounds 1 and 2 to commit their deposit, we'll have a good idea of how many spots are remaining in the class. At that point, we'll take some more people off the waiting list.
Q: How can a wait-listed applicant improve his or her chances of admission?
A: Taking classes or retaking the GMAT is a good idea. We're happy for our wait-listed applicants to contact us, and we give them feedback. If we tell you that we have concerns with your quantitative background, then just sending in a receipt that you have registered for the class is a step in the right direction. Our objective is to put together a good strong class of people who are ready to succeed and get the most out of [the program]. If we can help someone who is on the border, then it's good for everybody.
Q: What is your average GMAT score?
A: Our average is 700, but scores generally range between 650 and 750. The GMAT score, along with undergraduate GPA, is a pretty good predictor of academic success in the first year. But we want students to be successful in other areas as well, not just academics. We want students who will have time to assume leadership roles in clubs, for example. The last thing we want students to think is that if their scores fall in the 600s, then they shouldn't apply.
Q: What are some ways an applicant can stand out?
A: One thing we're looking at is if the person has a narrative that makes sense. Can they tell a compelling story about their life and career to date, where they plan to go, and why they want an MBA? It's also interesting to hear about people who are unusual. But they still need to be solid, stable, and compelling.
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