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Should Career Services Staff Weigh in on MBA Admissions Decisions? Wall Street Journal Consults Clear Admit for Insight

The Wall Street Journal recently turned to Clear Admit co-founder Graham Richmond to get his take on a trend taking hold in MBA admissions, namely, bringing in career services staff to evaluate candidates as part of the admissions process.

A WSJ article published today reports that admissions staff at several top MBA programs, including UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, have begun to ask career services staff to sit in on committee meetings to help assess how realistic candidates’ stated career goals are or otherwise inform the admissions process. Schools are increasingly employing this more integrated approach in an effort to help admissions officers better understand which candidates will be more employable come graduation and ultimately boost schools’ placement statistics.

For example, at the University of Rochester’s Simon Graduate School of Business, the director of career services has for the past year and a half been meeting every couple of weeks with the admissions team, sharing information on which firms and industries are recruiting at the school and which types of students have fared best post-graduation. At Kenan-Flagler, meanwhile, career services staff now routinely train admissions staff to look for the same traits in prospective applicants that a hiring manager will look for in current students.

Clear Admit’s Richmond pointed out as part of the WSJ article that involving career services staff in this way in the admissions process can benefit applicants, providing a key reality check for them early in the game. But he cautioned that looking too closely at employability and stated goals – that is, looking to only admit candidates who seem to be “sure things” for post-MBA employment – could lead to a very plain class and/or cause applicants to keep riskier post-MBA plans to themselves.

Balance is key when it comes to involving career services staff in the admissions process, Richmond advises. “Having well defined – and feasible – career goals is important in terms of ensuring success in b-school and beyond, but I also think that having a diverse class that heads off into dozens of industries and positions is pretty important, too,” he says. Career services offices can share with admissions that they are good at placing students in certain industries, so that the admissions team looks for applicants whose stated goals include those industries. But admissions officers should also push career services staff to open new doors with recruiters if they notice growing interest in the applicant pool in a new area, Richmond offers.

Read the full WSJ article, “MBA Pop Quiz: Are Your Employable?” And don’t miss Clear Admit’s Q&A Series with Career Services Directors at top MBA programs. We also feature a line of Clear Admit School Selection Guides, which are specifically designed to help applicants understand career-specific offerings at the leading MBA programs and identify the schools that will best support their career goals.

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Posted in: MBA News, Strategy Guides

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