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Applicants are in for a few new twists with today’s unveiling of the NYU Stern 2017-2018 MBA application. Some of the changes were spurred by the school’s announcement last month that it will now offer two new one-year MBA programs, focused on fashion & luxury and technology respectively. Others are designed to keep pace with changing communication styles influenced by the widespread use of social media while continuing Stern’s ongoing effort to carefully assess candidates’ fit with its culture. Taken together, they make for an interesting application season at the New York City school.
For starters, applicants can now opt to be considered for multiple Stern programs—the full-time, part-time, or new specialized one-year MBA programs—simultaneously using a single application. The school has also bid adieu to its long-standing “creative” essay—which gave applicants near total free reign to submit whatever they felt best communicated who they are as a person. Something called “Pick Six” has been introduced in its place—an Instagram-esque opportunity for applicants to use images and captions to tell their stories. Finally, reflecting the importance Stern places not only on candidates’ IQ but also their EQ—or emotional quotient—the transformed application now solicits an “EQ Endorsement” in additional to more traditional letters of recommendations.
Many MBA Programs: One Unified Application
“When we launched the new programs, we asked ourselves a fundamental question: ‘Should we have separate applications or is this an opportunity to do something different?’” says Associate Dean of MBA Admissions Isser Gallogly. The decision—to allow MBA applicants to be considered for more than one of the school’s MBA programs simultaneously by using a single application—is expected to benefit applicants while also streamlining the overall Stern admissions process and helping the school maintain or even improve its response time to applicants, he says.
Candidates who do opt to apply to more than one program will be required to select a primary program—full-time MBA, part-time MBA, tech MBA, or fashion & luxury MBA—and then provide an additional essay explaining their program preferences—i.e. why their first choice program is their first choice but how more than one option could ultimately align with their career goals. Applicants should submit their applications by the deadline for the primary program they are targeting, and there will be no additional fee for applying to more than one program.
“We recognize that with some of the programs, there could naturally be overlapping interest,” Gallogly says. “A candidate interested in a career in technology could get there through either the one-year or two-year program, for example—so rather than force them to choose one, we decided to give them the ability to indicate their interest in both.”
It’s a benefit to applicants in that it increases their opportunities for acceptance, Gallogly points out. “If an applicant is open to more than one program and one program fills up, they still have a second opportunity to come to Stern.” At least to start, the new one-year programs in tech and fashion & luxury will feature smaller classes of roughly 30 to 40 students and are likely to run out of space quickly.
“It’s never going to be about pushing someone into a program they don’t want, though,” assures Gallogly. “They can express everything that is of interest of them and tell us why. At the end of the day, whenever you can be considered for more than one program it represents more opportunities to come to Stern.”
Giving candidates the ability to apply simultaneously to multiple programs did require significant work on the back end—including creating a single, unified application comprised of identical components and governed by a single set of instructions. But the end result is better for the applicant and the admissions committee, says Gallogly. “It eliminates any confusion for the applicant—and everything will be presented to the committee in a similar format,” he explains. “We will still have to look at each person against their primary program and what else they are considering applying to, but ultimately the standardization across programs is beneficial to the committee, and that should improve or maintain our response time as well.”
Goodbye Creative Essay, Hello “Pick Six”
Stern’s famous “creative” essay has been a hallmark of the school for more than 15 years, inviting applicants to use just about any means they could think of to express who they are as a person to the admissions committee. Over the years, submissions have included traditional written essays as well as videos, collages, recipe books, board games or cereal boxes that applicants have personalized, buildings, sculptures…the list goes on. Stern stuck with the prompt for so many years because of the valuable insight it gave the admissions committee into candidates’ emotional quotient (EQ).
“We have had our creative or personal expression for ages, and it has been great—we have received such a wide range of materials,” says Gallogly. But some applicants could be thrown by the absence of clearer direction—and the widely varied responses were sometimes hard for the admissions committee to evaluate effectively against one another. Other applicants would get too caught up in production—pouring hours into creating a video, say—occasionally at the expense of the content itself.
This year, with the debut of Pick Six, Stern hopes to provide a little more guidance to applicants and create more consistency in the evaluation process while still offering plenty of freedom of expression. Through Pick Six, candidates get to submit six images—whether pictures, charts, infographics, or artwork—accompanied by six short captions.
If it sounds a little like Instagram or Facebook, that’s no accident. “I think it will feel extremely familiar to the applicants, and they will enjoy it,” Gallogly says. “So much of communication these days is visual as well as verbal.” But submissions are by no means restricted to photographs, he stresses. “It can be six words in a box, word clouds, emojis, pictures of a painting—there are so many options. The visuals should carry the lion’s share of communicating, with short captions that help support it.”
“Pick Six is our way of making our longstanding and very popular creative essay more contemporary and more in line with the ‘social media’ style of communication of today’s applicant.”
What’s an EQ Endorsement?
The third big change to NYU Stern’s application this year is the introduction of what it’s calling an “EQ Endorsement.” The school has long placed a premium on candidates who possess both intellectual and emotional intelligence—what it terms “IQ + EQ.” The new Pick Six feature, like the creative essay before it, is part of the school’s attempt to assess this hard-to-quantify criterion. In an effort to hone in even further on EQ, applicants will now be required to provide a testimonial illustrating a specific example of demonstrated EQ from someone who knows them well.
While traditional professional recommendations still will be required, the EQ endorsement won’t be restricted to supervisors, as traditionally is the case with letters of recommendation. Instead, they can come from a team member, colleague, or peer—whomever can best attest to the candidate’s emotional intelligence.
“Basically, you can go out to anyone other than an immediate family member who knows you well and can provide a story that exhibits your emotional intelligence,” explains Gallogly. EQ endorsers with receive a definition of what IQ + EQ means at Stern and be asked to provide one specific compelling example that demonstrates the candidate’s EQ. Unlike professional recommendations, which can sometimes be difficult to get, Gallogly expects it to be easy for candidates to find EQ endorsers. “It lets then bring an advocate for them into the process—not restricted to the professional realm at all,” he says. “Our hope through the EQ Endorsements is to get a lot more insight as to who candidates really are. We feel like this could provide a nice new dimension on an applicant that you usually can’t get until you interview them—something deeper and richer.”
Like Pick Six, the new EQ Endorsement is also designed to be in sync with how things are happening in the world of social media. “In some ways, it’s similar to a skills endorsement on LinkedIn,” says Gallogly. “We are looking here for people who know you well and can vouch for you in a compelling way.”
Some Things Change, Some Things Stay the Same
Amid all these innovations to its application this year, NYU Stern has kept many elements identical to prior years. As before, all applicants will be required to submit a data form, resume/CV, work history form, two professional recommendations, academic transcript, standardized test scores, and essays on each career goals and program fit. (For Gallogly’s advice on how best to approach these essays, don’t miss this post from the Clear Admit archives.)
In one other change, the November deadline for the full-time MBA program has been eliminated, leaving only three deadlines: October 15th, January 15th, and March 15th. The other programs—fashion & luxury MBA, tech MBA, and part-time MBA (for spring term)—will each feature two deadlines, September 15th and November 15th.
“November was never the biggest in terms of volume for the full-time program, so we eliminated it,” says Gallogy, adding that doing so was also part of an overall effort to better stagger the deadlines for the various programs. “We wanted to spread out the applicant pool across the cycle so we can get back to people quickly.” Again, those opting to apply to multiple programs should apply by the deadline set for their first-choice program.
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