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Admissions Director Q&A: Rebecca Mallen-Churchill of ASU Carey

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Let’s dig into Admissions Director Q&A ASU Carey with Rebecca Mallen-Churchill, Director of Graduate Student Recruitment, in our latest Admissions Director Q&A.

Mallen-Churchill graduated from ASU in 2005; while earning her degree in theatre and Italian, she also discovered her love for higher education while working for the Graduate Admissions office. After gaining work experience in the hospitality industry and traveling the world, Rebecca returned to Arizona and joined W. P. Carey in 2013. In her time working with the graduate program’s office, Rebecca has recruited students from every corner of the globe. She has led the team at W. P. Carey since 2019. 

Admissions Director Q&A ASU Carey: Rebecca Mallen-Churchill shares what you need to know about getting into the W. P. Carey MBA program and more below.

Rebecca Mallen-Churchill, Director of Graduate Student Recruitment, ASU W.P. Carey

Clear Admit: What is the one aspect of your program that you wish applicants knew more about?

Rebecca Mallen-Churchill: Our interdisciplinary curriculum. It is increasingly standard for b-schools to tout this style of curriculum, but most often what they mean is that their business departments work alongside or with each other – finance collaborates with marketing; consulting works on projects with data analytics. When we say this, we really capitalize on our home here at the #1 most innovative university in the country. Our interdisciplinary learning labs pair our Full-time MBA students with graduate students across ASU. They work on projects with students in Engineering, Education, BioDesign, Public Programs – the possibilities truly are endless. This more accurately reflects many of the roles our students will be joining post-MBA; not everyone will work exclusively with other MBAs so our curriculum prepares our students for the real world.

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?

RMC: When we say business is personal, we mean it. Every person’s application is read by no less than 8 members of our admission operations team and the admission committee. Once your application is complete, our team first reviews for interview consideration. Not everyone will be invited to interview, but if you are – you have made it through the first round!  Our recruitment team is available to provide you guidance on what to expect in the interview and even provide coaching – we want you to be successful! After your interview, you may have to wait a few days to a few weeks depending on the round in which you applied. At the end of the round, the admission committee (which is comprised of recruitment and admission staff, deans, faculty and members of our career management team) meet to discuss each candidate. Then final decisions are made and, if you are in, the first step is a congratulatory call from your recruiter!

CA: How does your team approach the essay portion of the application specifically? What are you looking for as you read an essay? Are there common mistakes that applicants should try to avoid? What is one key thing they should keep in mind as they sit down to write?

RMC: What a great question!  You’ll notice quickly that we do not ask for a personal statement. We have crafted questions that not only will tell us more about what you hope to accomplish by pursuing your MBA, but how you will contribute to the W. P. Carey community. The biggest piece of advice I can give here….be yourself!  Speak from the heart, don’t feel compelled to use “business” jargon if it’s not part of your normal speech. By no means put anything in your essays simply because you think it is something the committee wants to hear. I promise – we’ll know it’s not genuine. Proofread your essay. Did you reference the right school?  Are there spelling errors?  Did you answer the question?  A good rule of thumb is to have someone else read your essay, cover up the prompt and have them guess it – if they can’t, try again. Keep in mind while you’re writing this is oftentimes your first impression to the committee – we would much rather understand what is motivating you and what your passions are than read something that isn’t really you, but you thought would be impressive.

CA: Could you tell us about your interview process? Approximately how many applicants do you interview? Who conducts the interview (students, admissions officers, alumni) and what is the nature of the interview (resume-based, application-based, behavioral)? Will your admissions interviews be in-person or virtual for the 2023-2024 admissions season?

RMC: We think of the interview just as much as an opportunity for you the applicant to get to know us as it is for us to get to know you. We approach the interview conversationally and try to set you at ease at the start. While we give advice to prepare for the interview as you would a job interview, we are not attempting to intimidate you or act as “gatekeepers.”  We are there to help answer your questions and get to know you!  Our interviews are invitation only and each year, roughly half of our applicants are invited to interview. The interview is comprised of one member of the admission and recruitment team and one from our career center. They typically last about 45 minutes with plenty of time for questions. In addition to the formal interview, we also have many different ways for candidates to get a “sneak peek” into the W. P. Carey community. This includes 1:1 connections with our deans as well as round tables with current students. We are currently offering interviews both in person and virtually.

CA: What is your testing policy? Do you offer exam waivers? Why or why not?

RMC: The GMAT or GRE remains a critical part of the application for students who want to put forth the most competitive application they can. We do however understand the many limitations students have in the world now so we do offer the ability to request a waiver of the exam. Waivers are typically approved for candidates who have a strong representation of quantitative skills either in their professional background or in their academics. While the discussion as to whether or not a standardized exam is a true indicator of success remains, we find that the process of preparing for the exam is a great preparation tool to be successful in a rigorous program like the MBA.

CA: Could you tell us about the waitlist? What can waitlisted applicants do to maximize their chances of being accepted to your program? Does your office allow for waitlisted applicants to submit additional materials (e.g. letters of support, job updates, new test scores, etc)?

RMC: Because our program is intentionally small, we typically have to run a waitlist which we recognize can be a heart-wrenching time for a candidate. If you find you have been placed on the waitlist, you are more than welcome to submit additional materials or letters of interest. If any additional information is needed from you, your recruiter will absolutely let you know so most often it is simply a case of capacity.

CA: Tell us briefly about two popular courses at your institution.

RMC: Two standouts would be The Future World of Work and Mastering the Art of Negotiations and Influencing. The first is part of our unique Executive Connections program that pairs each of our students with a seasoned executive who volunteers their time to mentor students in the MBA program. Together you work through peer coaching, feedback and reflection to dive deep into topics in leadership and leading in this vastly changing landscape.

The second is a course in the consulting concentration- students who have taken Negotiations say the course has prepared them for real-life interactions and negotiations they have encountered in their summer internship and full-time job opportunities. They also say it is fun- faculty often make learning like a game while applying lessons that have a lasting impact on our students.

CA: And the last question in Admissions Director Q&A ASU Carey. Is there anything else you’d like to highlight about your MBA program or admissions process?

RMC: All of us here at W. P. Carey, from the recruitment team to our incredible faculty, are here to help you. There is no question too big or too small. We want to get to know you and help you determine if W. P. Carey is the right fit (plus who can argue with the weather in Arizona)!

Thank you, Rebecca Mallen-Churchill, for the insights in this Admissions Director Q&A ASU Carey. For prospective students, this information is invaluable in understanding the admissions process at W. P. Carey School of Business.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.