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Today’s guest is Melissa Rapp, Director of Admissions – Full Time MBA & MSMS Programs at the Kellogg School of Management. Melissa has an extensive background in communications and admissions. She joined Kellogg in 2012 as Assistant Director of PT MBA admissions. She became the Director of Admissions for the PT MBA in 2015 and in January 2016 became the Director of Admissions for the FT MBA AND MSMS programs. Welcome!
Kellogg has two required essays, an optional information section, and now also requires a video. What do you learn from the video that you don’t learn from the written essays? [2:12]
We introduced the video about three years ago for a couple of reasons. The first was to introduce the adcom to all of our applicants from all over the world – it provides the opportunity for facetime, and is more unfiltered. We also wanted to expose our future students to new technologies. We’ve heard from our career management team that more companies are using videos in their recruitment process (Goldman Sachs is an example), so we wanted to expose our future students to the technology they can expect in that screening/interview process.
Increasingly, we’re also seeing videos used as a screening and application tool a lot in the tech industry – for example, LinkedIn, Amazon, Apple.
Do you have advice for applicants sitting down to work on their Kellogg applications? [3:55]
The most important thing is for students to be reflective about why they want an MBA, why it’s important for their career. Be genuine.
The first essay asks why they want an MBA, why now, and why Kellogg. The second surrounds leadership and teamwork – are they a good fit for the team-based environment at Kellogg? Think carefully about experiences that demonstrate those qualities.
Given that focus on post-MBA goals, is employ-ability part of the admissions assessment? [5:13]
It’s important that students can handle the rigor of Kellogg and are a fit for the culture here. Those things ladder up to people who have great outcomes when they leave.
Kellogg accepts roughly one out of five applicants. How do you winnow it down? [6:10]
We strive to interview all our applicants – we’re committed to a holistic review. We want to come out with a diverse class: gender, ethnicity, industry, function. We’re looking for high achieving, high impact, low ego leaders who are eager to be a part of our student driven culture.
What does “student driven” mean at Kellogg? [7:25]
There isn’t much that happens here that students aren’t involved in. One example is Day at Kellogg, a program for admitted students that provides an opportunity for our students to help impact the admissions process.
Students also bring speakers to campus, organize events, etc.
What is your advice for applicants planning ahead to apply next fall? [8:30]
I can’t speak to whether our essay questions will remain the same. But in general, it’s important to do research on schools and find the right fit – you’ll be most successful in the place you can thrive. Go to information sessions, talk to students and alumni. Think about why you need an MBA and what your goals are.
Can you give an overview of Kellogg’s degree offerings? [10:10]
Our portfolio is a reflection of our commitment to diversity. Our FT MBA is a traditional two-year program – immersive, flexible, broad-based. Students do a summer internship and have extensive opportunities for experiential learning. We also offer a one-year program, which gives students who already have prior knowledge the chance to go straight into the upper level and finish in one year. Our joint degree programs include: a three-year JD/MBA, and a MMM degree (joint program with the school of engineering). And we also offer part time and executive tracks.
Are you starting to see Masters in Management grads applying to the one-year MBA? [12:30]
Those programs do provide the base of business knowledge we’re looking for going into the program.
What are Kellogg’s Pathways? [13:20]
Pathways are a way to organize academic offerings in a way that’s not an academic department. So if you’re interested in entrepreneurship or data analytics, you can take courses across departments related to that pathway.
There’s no application to be on the pathway, and you can take as many (or as few) courses as you’re interested in. That flexibility is something we’re proud of.
Can you provide some examples of experiential learning at Kellogg? [15:30]
Experiential learning gives students the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in a real world environment, but with less risk.
One example is NUvention, where our students work with other grad students from across Northwestern (law, medical school, engineering), on an entrepreneurial business concept. This leads to exciting things in social impact and medical innovation.
We also have a variety of lab courses. Sponsors include the Chicago Bears, United Airlines, and other major companies. In all, we have 1000 different experiential learning opportunities.
Kellogg is of course famous for its prowess in marketing and strategy. However, your recently released employment report shows that tech is increasingly popular, with 22% of recent grads going into tech careers. What opportunities at Kellogg prepare students for management and entrepreneurial careers in the technology industry? [17:30]
We’re always innovating our curriculum and providing cutting edge content to prepare them. One example is our Digital Marketing & Commerce class, which provides the opportunity for students to work directly with industry experts (including from places like Google) and real online customers.
What’s next at Kellogg? [18:41]
It’s an exciting time. We’re continuing to develop strong class profiles – over 40% women in the last two years, and 26% US minority diversity representation. I’m excited to think about these strong classes in our new Global Hub, which is a reflection of the values of Kellogg – a reflection of our collaborative, student-driven culture.
We’ll have our first classes in the new Global Hub building this spring, and the class entering next fall will have their full MBA experience there. So the new building is the most exciting thing.
What makes the new Global Hub special? [20:25]
It’s over 400,000 square feet of space, designed to encourage collaboration. There are varying room sizes, to encourage meetings and interaction. And there are some tech-free meeting zones, too.
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