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Admissions Director Q&A: Judi Byers of Cornell University’s S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management

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CA: Would you talk to us about the application from an operational standpoint. We would love to know what happens after they click submit. How many reads does the application go through? How long is each read? Who is doing the reading? Is there a committee that convenes to discuss candidates’ files as a group, and if so under what circumstances? And where does the interview fit in?

JB: Let me start off by explaining who is on the team. And then I can delve more deeply into the process. We are a 16 person admissions operation with responsibilities for the two-year and one-year MBA programs based here in Ithaca, New York. We also work very collaboratively with the admissions team at the Cornell Tech campus and the group that oversees admissions to the Johnson Cornell Tech MBA.

Judi Byers, Johnson executive director of admissions and financial aid

Our team is 16 professional staff, seven of which are members of the admissions committee. So this is the portion of the team in particular that has responsibilities for recruitment, candidate evaluation, and yield management for the two MBA programs that we work with. There’s also a six member operation team that serves as the backbone for the day-to-day operations of the office. A couple of roles that I think are worth candidates getting to know in particular, two members work in application coordination, which means they liaise directly with candidates as they are applying for admission, submitting materials, making certain that the files are put together for members of the evaluation team to review in greater detail. We also have a member of the team who works in operations and has a focus specifically on systems management, making certain that all of the systems that we use to manage the process are working as they should and helping to support the process.

We also have two admissions officers who are members of the operations team, who also evaluate and interview candidates for admission. Beyond these responsibilities they will also manage processes connected to the website, as well as the interview scheduling system.

The final role on the operations team is an events coordinator who has responsibilities for helping to manage our campus events, offerings, as well as the many recruitment activities that we host throughout the globe on an annual basis. So those are the two core groups within the admissions team.

We also have two members that work specifically within financial aid. Then for those who are hoping to pin me down for a conversation or a meeting, I have a phenomenal executive assistant that makes certain that I get to all of my meetings and appointments on time.

Switching over to the process, it has been exciting to see some of the activity surrounding the application itself. By the time that a candidate is ready to submit, I am really hoping that they have had a chance to connect with us either at an event off campus, perhaps here in Ithaca or even through some of the virtual activities that we offer throughout the season.

Once the submissions is made, the file will actually go on to a member of the admissions committee, for what we call a preliminary review. Here we are really looking at an assessment of a candidate’s academic background, their professional experience and strengths, as well as their fit and interests and alignments with the MBA program here at Johnson.

From this review, a few different decisions can happen. The candidate may be advanced forward for an admissions interview. For those who, following the preliminary review, are not at a point where we want to advance them to interview, they are either offered an invitation to join our waitlist or they are provided notice that they will not be continuing on in the admissions process. On our admissions website we have a page that outlines important dates connected to this process.

Within every round of admission, we have an initial notification deadline whereby we let candidates know that they are to be receiving one of these three initial notifications. For those who are advancing on to the interview, that is the next step in the admissions process.

What about the interview?  Find out on the next page.

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.