Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Joining the "Booth Nation"

An interesting piece on how admissions works for the MBA program at the Booth School at U of Chicago.

I like the bit about having the applicants come up with a four page powerpoint presentation with no guidance. Here is what the article has to say:
It was Ahlm who had the idea for this portion of the application. He jokingly says it came to him when he hit his head on the bathroom sink in his home. “This is an exercise that very much captures the essence of what Booth is about,” he says. “Having an ambiguous problem with many moving parts and being able to come up with a strong compelling solution. It was designed to allow someone to bring an application to life. The Powerpoint adds a lot of color, texture and depth to the application.

It also apparently turns some applicants off. “It leads some people to not hit send, which is a perfect outcome,” believes Kole. “Because if they are frustrated and feel they don’t know what to do with those four sheets of paper, they are not going to do well here. If that’s too much ambiguity for them, it’s good that they find that out before they apply. A lot of admits say they fell in love with the place through that process.”

I do wonder, as always, about whether all this effort would pass a cost-benefit test relative to a much less intensive, and extensive process, that used a few simple rules to mechanically rule most applicants in or out, and then had some human intervention only for marginal cases. I have never seen any evidence one way or the other, and I expect that the admissions experts, like most experts, think that they add more to the process than they do.

Oh, and associate dean Stacey Kole overlapped with me in the economics doctoral program at Chicago. I wondered where she ended up - not too far away it seems.

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