Learn about The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, and how it can help YOU gain acceptance at a top business school. [Show summary]
Danni Young, Director of Recruiting for the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, breaks down how the Consortium helps hundreds of students from target populations get accepted to top MBA programs each year.
Are you planning to apply to top MBA programs? Listen in to discover if applying through The Consortium is right for you. [Show notes]
Danni Young, Director of Recruiting for the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, earned her bachelor’s degree from Lincoln University in Missouri and her MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. Let’s hear from her how the Consortium can help you get your MBA.
Let’s start with the basics. What is the Consortium? [1:41]
The Consortium is a nonprofit organization that’s been around for over 50 years now. Our mission is to ultimately increase the representation of three target populations in our member schools, MBA programs, and in the ranks of management in corporate America. Our mission is focused on African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans. Our goal is to ultimately increase representation of those three target populations in our member schools. Over the last 54 years, we’ve offered $510,000,000 in fellowship support.
What are the benefits of membership? [2:35]
It starts with our common application process. If you’re thinking about pursuing your MBA at one of our 20 member schools, we definitely encourage you to use our common application. With that common application, a prospective MBA has the ability to apply to up to six of our member schools with one common application. Obviously, the benefit of that is that you’ll save time and money when you’re applying to business schools, but you’re also having an opportunity to apply for Consortium membership, which is very valuable in itself, and then also to be considered for the Consortium fellowship.
The application process is very streamlined. You don’t have to apply directly to our member schools. You can apply through us, and your common application will serve as your application to the business school. It will serve as your application for membership as well as your application for the fellowship consideration. It’s a one-stop shop.
Ultimately, the benefit of Consortium membership is that aside from the fellowship consideration, you’ll have an opportunity to be a part of our exclusive network. Our network consists of our 20 member schools, roughly 1000 students across our 20 schools currently. We have 10,000 alumni in the US and abroad, and we also have roughly 90 corporate partners that are part of the Consortium as well. That’s our network, and that’s what membership entails: being a part of that network. Membership also means that you have access to our online career center. It’s called CGSM Online, and it’s a platform only for Consortium members. It’s a great way to have connections with our corporate partners, upload your resume, look at a job, post job opportunities.
That membership means that every new Consortium member has a chance to attend our annual orientation program and career forum. We call it OP. That’s the highlight of the Consortium experience. It happens every year in early June. This past year, it was supposed to be in Seattle, Washington. With COVID, we had to transition the conference to virtual, but it worked out really well. But next year, our OP will be in New Orleans. Hopefully, we’ll be able to be onsite for that. That’s a four- to five-day conference in which new members have a chance to connect with other Consortium students across our schools. They have a chance to attend workshops and seminars on business-related topics. They get a chance to have direct access to our corporate partners and also attend our career forum. So even before they start their MBA program in the fall, they have an opportunity to land an internship and have job reviews before they start their MBA program.
You apply with a Consortium application to up to six business schools, correct? If you’re accepted to one of those business schools, are you automatically a member? [5:22]
Not at all. We’re looking for applicants who have the ability to get into one of the member schools, but who also have that passion and commitment to our mission. We’re looking for candidates who embody our mission. We want you to show us that you are committed to diversity and inclusion as it relates to our target populations. How have you positively impacted those organizations? We will ask applicants to write a membership essay in which they’ll need to articulate to us, in that essay, how they have championed diversity and inclusion, whether it’s in their community, their workplace, or at the undergraduate level. How have they impacted those target populations? We want them to provide examples of that.
Also, we want them to have a recommender that can attest to that as well. They need to provide a mission recommendation and choose someone that can say, “Hey, this person is passionate about diversity and inclusion. Let me tell you why.” That’s what we’re looking for, in addition to having the ability to gain admission into one of our member schools. They have to be passionate about our mission and be able to show an example or examples of that.
If somebody is passionate about the mission and, let’s say, is not accepted the first time they apply to business school, they can apply again through the Consortium, but they cannot yet be a Consortium member. Is that correct? [6:37]
There can be a scenario when someone applies through us and they gain admission into the school, but not membership to the Consortium. They can simply apply next year, but they would have to start all over with business school. They can’t just start their program and reapply for membership. They have to start the process over again and reapply the following year. That happens sometimes. Typically when that happens, that person just did not do a good enough job explaining in their membership essay how they’ve demonstrated commitment to our mission. So it does happen, but again, they can certainly reapply in the following year.
The Consortium only accepts applications from US permanent residents or citizens, is that correct? Which schools are member schools? [7:25]
Correct, and we have 20 member schools. The complete list can be found on our website at www.cgsm.org. We have 20 awesome member schools that are committed to diversity. Obviously, they’re looking to increase the diversity within our MBA programs. Just recently, in the last two years, Rice University has joined the Consortium. They’re located in Houston. Also University of Washington’s Foster Business School joined the Consortium. We’re very excited to have those two new schools onboard. We’re up to 20 now.
Is there a cost to joining the Consortium? [8:23]
There are no membership dues associated with Consortium membership. We just ask that you continue to be an advocate for the Consortium and also donate with your time. So many of our Consortium alumni and current students give back by attending some of our recruitment events, talking to prospective MBAs, and giving back with their time. They may ask their corporate partner to be a sponsor. And in some cases, they may give back and donate money as well. There are no membership dues associated with membership.
Can you review the core essays and the Consortium’s common app? [9:01]
The main core essay deals with short- and long-term goals, and that core essay will be seen by all the schools. If you choose to apply to six of our member schools, that general essay will be seen by those schools. Then there’s a membership essay. That membership essay is what will be seen by the Consortium, not the schools. That’s what our recruitment team will look at to assess if we want to extend your membership or not.
Will the school see the membership essay also? [9:34]
They will not see the membership essay. The schools do not have a part in membership, so they will not review your membership essay or your mission recommendation.
The schools definitely have supplemental essays. If you choose to apply to six schools, you will have the core part of the application to complete, but also you’ll have individual supplements for each school that you’re applying to. Those supplements, that’s what the schools have created, that series of questions and essays that they want to ask the applicants applying to the school.
Are there any other elements to the CGSM application, or is it just what the schools require? [10:10]
There are the transcripts and recommendations. The great thing about our application is it’s all streamlined. Rather than having to send your transcripts to the schools directly or send your test scores to the schools directly, you can have them funnel through the Consortium. For instance, for the recommendations, we have three total. We require two professional recommendations and one niche recommendation. The two professional recommendations are seen by the schools. We simply ask that you input the contact information of your recommenders in our application, and they will receive a link to fill out the recommendation form. You don’t actually have to ask them to write a letter of recommendation. They will fill out a form once you input their contact information. And with the GMAT score, you just request to have your official score report sent to the Consortium, and we will forward it to the schools on your behalf. It’s the same thing with the transcript.
Are any of the Consortium schools test-optional or experimenting with test waivers? [11:11]
Every school is doing something a little bit differently, but we know that there are some schools who give students the opportunity to apply for waivers. Some of them don’t have it automatically. You have to apply for a test waiver. If you meet the criteria, they may decide to waive it or not. We are noticing some schools are offering more flexible test score requirements, but again, every school is different.
What’s the difference between being a CGSM member and a CGSM fellow? [11:44]
There is no difference. You’re a Consortium member, regardless of if you received a fellowship or not. You have some Consortium members who were offered fellowships and you have some who weren’t.
How does CGSM help its members in terms of career placement? [12:11]
We don’t offer career placement, but again, we have that online career center called CGSM Online. That’s a portal that our corporate sponsors have access to. They’re always in there sourcing resumes and posting jobs and whatnot, and a big part of the preparation before OP is with the schools. The career offices at the schools will help the students prepare for OP, since they’re going to interview. We don’t do job placement, but we do have a portal that’s designed for Consortium members only. Our corporate sponsors have access to that, and they’re looking for candidates to fill positions, particularly internships.
How has CGSM changed or adjusted as a result of both the pandemic and the renewed focus on racism in the wake of George Floyd’s death? [13:11]
I’ll take a step back and start with the biggest change for us right now: We moved into a new application system. That is a huge thing for us, because our goal has always been to improve the application process for our candidates to make it as seamless as possible. We’ve integrated this new application system which makes it so much easier to navigate the application system. It’s easier to toggle through, and we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from it from our round one applicants. That’s really one of the biggest changes that we’ve had this year, moving into a new application system. That is huge in itself for us, and we’re still working through it. We’re proud to say that our round one application numbers are up right now. We have 265 right now compared to 232 at this time last year. We’re expecting probably the same trend for the round two applications that are coming up on January 5th.
Our CEO released a statement on what’s happening in today’s climate. It reinforces how important organizations like the Consortium are. Now more than ever. The reason why we exist. We definitely have released a statement to all of our constituents about that. It reinforces why we are here, the importance of us existing, trying to get more underrepresented populations in these top MBA programs, and in these companies as well, because there’s a lack of representation. We exist for a reason, and we’ve been here for 54 years, and we have to do something about it. Our organization is kind of leading the challenge and the change, so to speak.
What advice would you give to someone planning to apply via CGSM in this 2021 application cycle, by that January 5th deadline? [15:21]
I would say go for it. Historically, when the economy has been down, when the unemployment rate is very high, you see an influx of folks applying to business school with the hopes of, once they graduate two years from now, that the economy will be better and they will have a better chance of getting a job. So I would say, go for it. If you’ve been thinking about it for a while, go ahead and start working on the application.
This is the best time, especially since some schools are offering the opportunity to apply for waivers, and some schools are taking other tests aside from the GMAT. There is more flexibility, I would say, with some of the schools now more than ever. I would encourage someone to take advantage of that. Go forward, submit your application, and see what happens. Obviously, do your due diligence and research the schools, and make sure you submit a competitive application. But I would encourage someone to just go for it now, especially if you’ve been putting off for so long. Consider actually going for it right now.
And then, don’t wait till the last minute. Our deadline is January 5th. You don’t want to wait until January 4th to submit your application. You can actually start working on your application now. Give yourself time. It is a competitive process. There are a lot of moving parts to the application. You don’t want to rush the process by any means.
And if you feel like, for some reason, you can’t put together the best application at this time, then certainly wait. The goal is to submit the best application possible, because it is a competitive process. And in fact, we actually saw from our applicant pool last year, about 10% of our applicants are reapplicants. So if for some reason you don’t get admission to any of these top schools, don’t beat yourself up about it. You could definitely reapply next year.
You have an MBA. Are you glad you got your MBA? [18:07]
I received my MBA from Washington University in St. Louis about five years ago, but I actually went the part-time route. I didn’t do the full-time route. I actually was working at WashU at the time and had the opportunity to pursue my MBA on a part-time basis. I’m very fortunate to have had that experience. I met a lot of great people from all different backgrounds and ethnicities. I had a lot of great professors. I learned so much. I really learned how to think more analytically. That’s one of the biggest things I took from my MBA: just being able to problem-solve better and to think more analytically about different problems or how to solve things. It was really a great experience, and I actually learned how to be a better leader as well from it. I’m very glad that I made the decision just to go for it.
What do you see coming down the pike for CGSM? Do you see CGSM perhaps working with non-MBA management degrees, going into other areas? [19:12]
That’s to be determined. We have a new program that we just launched in the last couple of years called Competitive Advantage. That’s designed for undergraduate students, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. They have an opportunity to get a jumpstart on their career opportunities and be mentored. That program is probably the newest program in the Consortium. That is probably the biggest thing in our future.
Is there anything you would’ve liked me to ask you or anything you want to tell our listeners? [19:59]
Check out our new application system. If you, within our old application system, had any issues or it was just too much, I would definitely encourage you to consider jumping into our new system. It’s so much easier to navigate. It’s very sleek-looking, and it’s so much easier to toggle through. I’m really excited about it. I know our implementation team has spent a lot of time over the last six months working with the new system vendor. We’re really proud of this product. As I said before, we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback about it already, and we’re looking forward to round two and seeing the results from that as well.
We have some virtual recruitment events coming up, as well. We actually have an alumni panel tonight, so we’ll be featuring some alumni from our member schools. They’re going to talk about their experience with the Consortium. They’re going to give some great tips and advice on the application process. Then we also have our MAPS event, our MBA Application Preparation Seminar. Our fourth and final MAPS event will be November 17th. Those are recorded and they will be virtual this year, obviously. That MAPS event is a great opportunity to connect with our schools, hear from an admissions panel, and get insight from the school reps. Also, we’ll have school breakout sessions where you can talk to the schools directly and get your questions answered and learn more about their MBA programs from current students and alumni. We’re excited about that MAPS event coming up November 17th. If you’re a prospective student who needs some guidance or insight about how to submit the best application possible, that MAPS event will help answer some of your questions. [Note: You can check out the recordings of the MAPS events on the CGSM website.]
- The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management website
- The Consortium Application: Tips for Your CGSM Essays [2020 – 2021]
- Applying for Your MBA Through The Consortium: Best Deal in Town
- A Kenan-Flagler Student Discusses Industrial Engineering, Healthcare and Business, an interview with an MBA and Consortium fellow
- Life at Yale SOM, Google Internship & the Importance of Diversity, an interview with an MBA student and Consortium member
- A Day (and a Year) in the Life of a Ross MBA Student, an interview with an MBA student and Consortium member
- Accepted MBA Admissions Services
- MBA Life at UC Berkeley Haas, From Its New Executive Director of Admissions
- What MBA Students Can Expect at UCLA Anderson
- An Insider’s Look at MBA Admissions
- How to Address COVID-19 and the Events of 2020 in Your Application
- The Consortium Can Help You Get Your MBA