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Admissions Director Q&A: Rebekah Lewin of the University of Rochester Simon Business School

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In this Admissions Director Q&A, we get an update on MBA admissions at the University of Rochester Simon Business School with Senior Assistant Dean of Admissions and Programs Rebekah Lewin.

Rebekah has over 25 years of undergraduate and graduate admissions and program management experience. In her current role, she oversees strategy related to recruitment, admissions, financial aid, career management, student experience, EDI, and corporate engagement for full-time, part-time, and online MBA and MS programs. Rebekah is involved in board and advisory roles, including as a Board Trustee for the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management and Consortium OP Planning Committee Chair, as well as the Forté School Advisory Council. 

Keep reading for her insights into what to expect in the MBA admissions process this year.

Rebekah Lewin, Senior Assistant Dean of Admissions and Programs, Rochester Simon

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

Rebekah Lewin: Simon has a relatively new AI in Business initiative that launched about a year ago. This includes degree programs, courses, workshops, and advanced certificates that provide training in generative AI. We have designed new courses and degree programs that allow a deep study in generative AI. As we adapt some of our existing classes, there are some new options to apply generative AI tools and concepts into the business discipline that they are studying (marketing, finance, or even communications).   

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?

RL: An application is processed as soon as it is submitted to confirm that all materials have been received. From there, MBA applications are sent to the Admissions Committee, which reviews the application for an interview invitation (on campus or via Zoom, depending on location). Our MS applicants are given the opportunity to submit a video essay in lieu of an interview. After the application is read, the candidate is sent to the Admissions Committee for a final review and decision. The timing for the entire process is based on when a candidate applies and the guaranteed notification deadlines that we set for when decisions are released.

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?

RL: The essays are one of my favorite parts of the application, as it allows the candidate to tell their story. Applicants should carefully read the questions and make sure they are answering them fully within the allotted amount of space. Avoid repurposing another school’s essays even if the questions seem similar—each year we read essays where a candidate tells us how excited they are to apply to another B-school because they did not carefully review or edit their essays. Also, don’t write what you think we want to hear—just be yourself when you answer the questions. We really want to hear about your background, motivation to pursue B-school, career interests, and more!

CA: Could you tell us about the Rochester Simon admissions 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 2024-2025 admissions season?

RL: I expect that the 2024-25 interview policy will be very similar to this past year. Interviews are primarily conducted by staff members and occasionally by trained alumni interviewers, and we interview a fairly high percent of our applicant pool. Our policy is that interviews are offered by invitation and typically after a candidate has applied for admission. Interviewers conduct a résumé-based interview that typically includes some behavioral questions as well as an opportunity for the candidate to ask us a few questions at the conclusion of the interview. US-based candidates typically complete in-person interviews (primarily on campus). For applicants who are not based in the US, we offer Zoom interviews.

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

RL: We are test optional. We encourage people to submit a test if it helps their profile, but we also give people other ways to show their academic readiness—including their undergraduate GPA, graduate GPA, non-degree coursework grades, and professional certifications. Students should use this approach to highlight how they have demonstrated their capabilities for success in our program.

CA: In the application data form, many schools ask for information about work experience, activities, hobbies, and much more. What advice would you give to applicants as they approach this component of the application process? 

RL: The application process helps us to get to know candidates on a more personal level.   Providing this information brings your application to life and shares your passions and interests. This helps us to have a sense of where and how you might get involved as a student if admitted to our program.

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

RL: AI In Business – This course introduces AI models and teaches how recent advances in AI can spur financial innovation for startups and corporations. It covers the evolution of deep learning models in the last decade, discusses the cutting-edge AI applications, and helps students identify new opportunities for value creation.

Intro to Pricing – This course helps future managers make good decisions by preparing them to analyze the environment in which their firm operates and to arrive at an appropriate pricing for their product or service. More specifically, it helps them understand the relationship between a firm’s environment (e.g., cost, demand, competition, and legal aspects) and its optimal pricing strategy, and to develop skills in applying this understanding.

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

RL: We encourage candidates to reach out to the Admissions office with questions or to engage with us in one of our off-campus, on-campus, or virtual events.  For more information, visit our website:

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.