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Admissions Director Q&A: Justin Aier of Boston College’s Carroll School of Management

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In this Admissions Director Q&A, we welcome back Justin Aier, Assistant Dean of Graduate Recruitment & Enrollment at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management.

Justin has been a part of the Carroll School Graduate Admissions team for over five years, and has taken on roles from marketing and communications to recruitment and enrollment management. His favorite part of the admissions process is personally working with applicants to determine how the BC MBA can help them achieve their academic and professional goals.

Read on for his insights into their admissions process, interview, essays, and the dynamic MBA program at BC Carroll. 

Justin Aier, Assistant Dean of Graduate Recruitment & Enrollment at BC Carroll

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

Justin Aier: Our world-renowned faculty! Many of the faculty at the Carroll School of Management come from the business world and bring their experience, perspectives, and networks to the classroom. They’re key drivers of the BC MBA’s dynamic, market-driven curriculum. 

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?

JA: An application goes through several review rounds by readers and admissions staff before culminating in a committee review. Applicants can find out when they are guaranteed to receive decisions by looking up notification dates on our website

We review applications and provide decisions on a rolling basis, so it’s not uncommon for applicants to receive decisions before posted notification deadlines. We always encourage applicants to be in touch with us if they have questions about when to expect their decisions.

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?

JA: Essays are an important part of our review process as they provide us with a candidate’s reasons for wanting to pursue an MBA while also giving us a sense of how much research they’ve done about our programs. 

We’re looking for three main things in the essay: a candidate’s short-term goals, long-term goals, and why they’ve chosen to apply to Boston College. These are simple questions, but they’re really an opportunity for applicants to take the time and reflect on how they can realistically achieve their professional goals by pursuing an MBA at BC. 

Accordingly, we always ask applicants to be authentic in their responses: don’t write to impress the committee; rather, tell us about your goals based on your prior personal and professional experiences, as well as your future potential.

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?

JA: A select number of applicants are invited to interview, either in person or through Zoom, with the admissions committee. Interviewers on the admissions committee include second-year MBA students hired and trained to be part of the admissions team, as well as admissions directors. Interviews will include both resume-based and behavioral questions. Essentially, we’re looking to determine fit in the program with these interviews—that is, we ask whether or not we can picture you at BC.

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

JA: MBA applicants applying for Fall 2024 can request consideration for GMAT/GRE waivers. Regardless, applicants should know that the admissions committee will continue to view GMAT/GRE scores as an additional metric that could help add value to candidates’ backgrounds and experiences, as well as indicate their readiness for the MBA program.

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)?

JA: After receiving a waitlisted decision, the first thing a candidate can do is to opt into our waitlist. Next, waitlisted candidates must submit a letter of continued interest noting a few key points on why they are interested in BC. When relevant, candidates can definitely submit professional updates and new test scores. Lastly, I would encourage waitlisted candidates to be in touch with the admissions committee every few weeks to reiterate their interest in our program. This ensures that we know candidates are still engaged. 

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

JA: Data Visualization is a popular MBA elective that teaches students how to effectively analyze data and present insights in a way that engagingly incorporates analytics and storytelling.

Another popular course is the Professor Pilar Opazo’s core MBA class, Managing People and Organizations. The course introduces concepts about complex individual, group, and system-wide behavior in organizations, and teaches students to apply this knowledge in the real world

CA: Is there anything else you’d like to highlight about your MBA program or admissions process?

JA: At BC, we value our collaborative community and industry-focused curriculum. By design, our class sizes are small in order to allow our students to foster relationships and connections, which eventually translate into a close-knit and accessible alumni network. The MBA core curriculum includes a series of courses on data analytics to prepare students for careers across all industries and job functions. Overall, across all stages of the application process, we’re people-centered and genuinely want our applicants and students to succeed.

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.