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Admissions Director Q&A: Simon School of Business’ Rebekah Lewin

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Last week we got to know a little about the person heading admissions at the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business when our Real Humans of MBA Series spotlighted Rebekah Lewin. Today we’ll delve deeper into just how the admissions process unfolds at the school.

As we shared last week, if anyone knows the Simon admissions process inside and out, it’s Lewin. Not only has she worked at the school for almost 20 years, including in the lead role as assistant dean of admissions and financial aid for the past two, she also applied to and completed Simon’s part-time MBA program herself. So, to all you prospective Simon applicants out there, she’s been in your shoes, literally. Our thanks to Lewin for explaining the process in detail for our readers.

Admissions Director Q&A: Simon School of Business’ Rebekah Lewin

Clear Admit: What’s the single most exciting development, change, or event happening at Simon in the coming year?

Rebekah Lewin: There are several, but if I had to pick just one I’d say it’s the expansion of our experiential learning and international trek opportunities. Those are both things that our students have expressed a lot of interest in. We already have several experiential learning opportunities both in Rochester and internationally, but we have expanded those based on student feedback.

We also now offer several international treks for students during winter and spring break for both years. So if students have an interest in choosing one location in their first year and a different in their second, they have multiple options to choose from. We will be on at least four to five different continents—South America, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and we may be in Asia as well.

These are a terrific opportunity for any individual looking to have global exposure. Several of the international treks double as experiential learning, with a credit-bearing course attached to the trip. Some include corporate visits, site visits, and project work, which we are requiring of all our first-year MBA students. These provide great opportunities for them to round out their experience and will offer them great experience as they go into interviewing for internships and jobs.

CA: What is the one area of your program that you wish applicants knew more about?

RL: Let me preface by saying my answer is more based on my own experience going through the program myself. From my experience I think students come in with some understanding about the curriculum—and that it has more of an economics and analytics focus—but I don’t know that they have an appreciation for how that is important and how it will translate into helping them go into their career more prepared, both at the start and later in their career.

Personally, I had a superficial knowledge of that. I wanted to have a stronger tool kit in analytics, which is part of what attracted me to Simon’s program, but it wasn’t until I graduated that I fully appreciated how well that has prepared me in my career. Many schools will offer macroeconomics or microeconomics as individual courses, but our faculty is very focused on economics and its impact— on finance, on marketing, on operations, etc.

And the linkages of economics at Simon extend beyond Simon. In general, when Simon alumni are together, regardless of the industry or function they work in, they will have in common that they think about the world of business through an economic lens. They will consider the incremental costs of a business decision or set of decisions. It’s drilled into you to have a big picture perspective of what drives business opportunities. Will this unit be helpful and flexible regardless of changes in the economy? Simon provides a very flexible sort of tool kit that will really afford you an opportunity to add value to your company throughout the life of your career. I have found that to be the case for myself and als often hear it from alumni I speak to.

Having said that, all of Simon’s MBA courses are taught from a framework that does not require a student to have a background in economics or business. We do want to see common traits of math proficiency, leadership, effective communication, and a progressive work career in our applicants, but there are no prerequisites in terms of courses or even quant courses. We have seen success from students who have been humanities majors, economics majors, engineers, and everything in between. But we would like to see that students have done their due diligence and understand this focus on economics and believe that Simon is a good fit for them.

CA: Walk us through the life of an application in your office from an operational standpoint. What happens between the time an applicant clicks “submit” and the time the committee offers a final decision (e.g. how many “reads” does it get, how long is each “read,” who reads it, does the committee convene to discuss it as a group, etc.)

RL: The timing varies a little, of course, depending on when a student submits, but roughly speaking within a few days after the application is submitted, it is processed by our operations team. This means undergoing a cursory review to make sure that each required item has been submitted in its entirety, every single transcript, test scores, letter of recommendation, etc. At the conclusion of this review the applicant will receive a confirmation that his or her application is complete or, if it is incomplete, instructions on what is needed for it to be considered complete.