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Admissions Director Q&A: Beth Flye of the Kellogg School of Management

Beth Flye, assistant dean and director of admissions for the full-time MBA program at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, is the latest contributor to our ongoing Admissions Director Q&A. We caught up with her last week just before she set off for Latin America to meet with prospective applicants there.

Flye has 20 years of experience in higher education and has served as admissions director at Kellogg since January 2003. She is well known in the admissions circle for encouraging applicants to know themselves and be themselves when applying to Kellogg.

Read on to learn more about Kellogg’s new dean, the school’s distinctive joint degree programs and how to make your application essays stand out to the admissions committee.

Clear Admit: What’s the single most exciting development, change or event happening at Kellogg this year? 

Beth Flye: This is a very easy question to answer and one that I answer enthusiastically. What is new at Kellogg is that we have a new dean. Dean Sally Blount, who is also a Kellogg grad. She has hit the ground running and has spent a lot of time meeting key stakeholders. We know she will have a strong accent in focusing on the student experience.

She has been busy meeting with a lot of people – alumni, faculty, those of us on the staff side. She is also already on the road doing fundraising. Her calendar is very busy and I haven’t spent very much time with her personally yet, but I can tell you she is very much on the move.

I do anticipate that there will be some changes as she settles into the role. One of the things that I think she will be focusing on will be global initiatives, though exactly what that will entail I am not entirely sure. She wants to continue to grow the Kellogg brand – making sure that our alumni network is well connected around the globe and that we are attracting the very best talent.

CA: What is the one area of your program that you wish applicants knew more about?

Beth Flye: I would definitely like to highlight the two joint degree programs we have. We have our “triple M” program, the MMM, which is the Kellogg MBA plus the MEM (masters of engineering management) from Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering. This program integrates management, operations and design from concept to execution, helping students learn a systems approach to managing a company.

We also have the JD/MBA program in partnership with tNorthwestern’s School of Law. Our combined JD/MBA is a little bit over three years, so it is more of an accelerated program compared with some other JD/MBA programs. What is great about the JD/MBA program is that it is a wonderful platform for someone who wants to get both an MBA and a background in legal and regulatory training.

Something that sets our JD/MBA program apart is that on average we see 25 to 30 students a year. This means that they have a real network among themselves in addition to networks at each the business and law schools.

I’d also like to continue to draw attention to the Kellogg School’s One-Year (1Y) Program, which is designed for a person with consistent and specific career goals who wants to gain more business education and return to the workforce quickly. For this type of candidate – a person seeking career enhancement who meets certain prerequisites – the One-Year Program is an excellent educational opportunity and return on investment.

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 (e.g. how many “reads” does it get, how long is each “read,” who reads it, does the committee convene to discuss it as a group, etc.). 

BF: After an applicant submits the application, our processing team downloads that information and collects all of the other necessary information to make the file “complete.” After that, the application file goes into the evaluation pool.

For a portion of the applications, the first review will be conducted by a member of our student Admissions Committee. Following that evaluation, one of the admissions officers will review the file, and then the application will come to me for a final review.

For some cases, the file will be read by a fourth reader to help the admissions office reach the most informed decision. As you can surmise, we have a very thorough review process, given that a significant amount of attention is given to each application.

CA: How does your team approach the essay portion of the application specifically? What are you looking for as you read the essays? Are there common mistakes that applicants should try to avoid? One key thing they should keep in mind as they sit down to write them?

BF: Essays serve as another means for an applicant to tell us more about him/herself. We are looking for clarity from our applicants on not only what they have been doing but why various elements of their professional and personal experiences are significant.

Regarding potential mistakes, I always advise applicants not to fall into the trap of writing what they think the Kellogg School’s admissions team wants to read; what we are looking for is their authentic/genuine thoughts.

CA: What are you seeing this year in terms of overall admissions volume?

BF: This past year we had a small increase in applications overall versus the prior year. We were up about 2 percent. The mystery becomes what are we anticipating for the coming year. I think we will have another healthy year. But regardless of volume, what we look at is the quality. That is what drives our process. And that quality has been there. I am very optimistic about what we will see this year.

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Posted in: Admissions Director Q&A

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