What about visiting the business school’s campus? Do you have any special instructions or advice for those who want to visit?
Yes, definitely. I think it is probably one of the most critical aspects of the application process. Most applicants say it was crucial in helping them make the decision to attend our program. We have multiple visit opportunities here on campus. Applicants can have lunch with students, tour the campus, and sit in on a class. We try to be accommodating in that sense. We also have a huge student group called the McCombs Admission Committee (MAC). This is a student group of about 80 to 90 students who volunteer to assist us in the admission process. Every year we have to turn away people who want to be on this committee. Their enthusiasm really shows through and when an applicant comes on campus, many times they will talk about how someone from the “MAC” helped them understand a little bit more about McCombs that they didn’t know before or helped them personalize the decision-making process. So as a result, we realize how important it is for applicants to visit us.
What about financial aid? Are there scholarships or assistantships available at McCombs?
We have a variety of scholarships and fellowships that are available. When we review your application for admission, we will also review you for any scholarship opportunities available. They range in value. As a state school we have the opportunity to grant as part of our fellowships and scholarships, in-state tuition to some of our out-of-state students. There are other scholarships that are dedicated to students interested in pursuing marketing careers, and finance, to name a few.
What Career Services are provided at McCombs?
We have integrated our career services office into the MBA program more fully than it has been in the past, which was a direct response to everything from alumni to current student feedback about a need for tighter integration. As a result, we are able to serve students from cradle to grave, so to speak. We have been able to offer services such as interviewing workshops, case workshops, seminars on particular industries and we have alumni who will come in to talk about their particular experiences.
Isn’t it true that McCombs is recognized for leading students who have entrepreneurial aspirations in a favorable direction?
Traditionally we have had a very strong entrepreneurial program. It’s really a result of many factors, everything from very strong and popular faculty inside the program to resources outside the business school at the university in other departments. One of the nice aspects about being part of a large state institution is the access to many things that are going on here. Many of our MBA students work with students from other departments and institutes on campus from an entrepreneurial standpoint. Also, many students have found the city of Austin to very much have an entrepreneurial flavor to it because it is a relatively younger city and has a lot of high-tech start-ups and things of that nature.
Is there any way entrepreneurial applicants can differentiate themselves on their applications?
When we review an application from someone who has those professional aspirations, we try to understand what, historically, they have done to demonstrate their experience or their abilities in that area. It doesn’t necessarily mean starting a business before they came to business school. There is a certain personality and professional profile to the entrepreneur and we try to get an understanding of what their creativity is and their innovation and their sense of ambition and their ability to work through obstacles and challenges so we can foster those skill as a successful entrepreneur.
What about the housing situation for MBA students. Where do McCombs MBA students typically live?
Well, as a large school, there are many housing options. Most of the MBA students live off campus and live in probably 2 or 3 different areas around the city of Austin. Fortunately, the university has a really good bus system so it is easy to live in these different areas and get to and from campus.
What would you say distinguishes the McCombs School of Business and its students from other programs?
I have found that collectively, the students are really passionate individuals who will step up and initiate programs and new ideas and really follow through with them. So not only are they great idea builders or idea generators, but they are also fantastic executors and really take the ball and run with it. I never have a problem with trying to find students to help out with things that are going on inside a program and there is never a lack of ideas on how we can make the program stronger and how they can help. So I think this definitely sets them apart as having the components to make them very strong leaders.
Let’s talk about the application pool this past year because it’s true that most business schools are saying that they saw a significant drop in application activity. Do you want to talk about how the pool for this incoming class is different than previous years?
The pool overall was down and certainly reflected the national trend in business school applications. I think fortunately in talking to some of our peer schools, we weren’t down as much. Our preliminary numbers indicate we were down 19% to 20%, so we feel pretty fortunate about that aspect. That, coupled with the fact that we went to a reduced class size, somewhat offset the other which resulted in no net decline in the quality of applications or admitted students. We have been fortunate in that we are still able to draw from a really talented pool of applicants and bring in an even stronger set of admitted students.