MBA Myth-Busting at Chicago Booth

It seems some myths never die, particularly where MBA admissions are concerned. With that in mind, we bring you a new myth-busting post featuring Joanne Legler, associate director of admissions at the Chicago Booth School of Business, who frequently encounters misconceptions among prospective applicants while on the road. Here, Legler sets the record straight on everything from interviews, minimum test scores, letters of recommendation, and your chances in Round 3.

Applicants believe they must have five years of work experience and a minimum GPA and GMAT/GRE score to be considered for admission, but Legler says that’s simply not true. Like most schools, Chicago Booth takes a holistic approach to the evaluation process and has no minimum requirement for work experience. Chicago Booth urges applicants to apply when they feel ready, which might be after just a few years in the work force, or much later in their careers.

When it comes to the interview, MBA candidates think an interview with a staff member is different than one with a second-year student or alum. It’s true that no two interview experiences will be alike. However, Legler points out that anyone who interviews Booth applicants has been carefully trained, and every interview is blind, meaning your interviewer won’t have seen your application beforehand. The feedback, says Legler, is used equally in each and every case, regardless of who your interviewer may be.

Due to Chicago Booth’s reputation as a powerhouse in the fields of finance and consulting, some applicants fear they are at a disadvantage if they weren’t a business major or have work experience in other industries. “It’s not what you do that matters – it’s how you do it and the experience you’ll bring to the classroom and study groups,” Legler says, pointing out that 46 percent of students have a liberal arts or science background.

Another notion that’s really hard for applicants to shake is the urge to seek out “prestige recommenders”. In reality, it’s almost always a bad idea to seek out a recommendation from someone with an impressive title but little insight to offer regarding your individual merits as a candidate. Instead, look to a current or former supervisor, or a colleague, who can truly speak to your accomplishments and talent. In other words, choose your recommenders carefully, Legler cautions.

Lastly, the associate admissions director addresses the myth of whether being accepted in Round 3 is impossible. Obviously, the schools do accept candidates in the final round or there wouldn’t be one. But your competition is fierce as spaces are awarded in the class as the rounds progress. The best advice, says Legler, is to apply when you can turn in your absolutely strongest application. Even if that means waiting until the final round.


The round 2 deadline at Chicago Booth is coming up on Tuesday January 8th, so if you need last-minute application tips and information, read our section devoted to Chicago Booth advice.

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