NYU Stern’s Open House Event

I just wanted to write a short post (this ended up being longer than I thought), commenting on NYU Stern’s Full-time MBA Admissions Open House event. The event was held on a Saturday morning, and even though my R2 application to Stern isn’t guaranteed, what else would I be doing at 10AM on a Saturday? Sign me up.

In short, if you’re within the general vicinity of NYC or can somehow arrange to attend a future Open House event, I highly encourage it. Although the majority of the event was your standard run-of-the-mill information session complete with student speakers and PowerPoint presentation slides, the admissions committee capped the event with a very interesting, unique approach that I’ll touch on later.

The four student speakers NYU Stern elected to speak at the event were a diverse panel of speakers (a former Googler who spent his past summer at Sony working on strategy for a Harry Potter product, an investment banker, an intern at Bayer Consumer Care, etc.) I felt that Stern touched more upon the diversity and strength and influence of its faculty more than most other schools. (Obviously  being located in the heart of Manhattan has a lot to do with the strength of its professors.) Highlights they touched upon included the renowned Corporate Finance class taught by Professor Aswath Damodaran or the connections another professor has with the Cannes Film Festival which allows him to bring 25 students each year, often meeting with executives of various film companies or conglomerates.

There was no mention of the quality of facilities, classroom/study room space, or what it’s like living in New York City. There were a few comments on a “collaborative” environment and one of the student speakers charactized “Sternies” as “down to earth”, but that was pretty much it on team culture (a far contrast to say, Fuqua or Kellogg). The speakers emphasized Stern’s great accessibility to companies and how easy it would be to meet for an interview or appointment in the middle of the day and be able to reach class in the evening (a strong point).

Most memorably, however, was the case study that the admissions team used to cap the event. Rather than bore us with traditional vernacular on Do’s and Don’ts and outlining the GMAT scores and GPAs of the latest NYU Stern class, the assistant dean of admissions (Isser Gallogly) handed out a sheet of paper to every person in the large auditorium.

On it, was an extremely abbreviated application for a fictitious NYU Stern applicant. It contained a resume, GMAT score report, one essay on professional aspirations, and a recommendation from her manager. We were given a few minutes to read it over and then began an interactive exercise in which we all acted as members of the admissions committee. We were asked to vote if we would deny, waitlist, or invite the applicant for an interview. The attendees’ (I would guess roughly 150-200 people) votes were mostly in the invite to interview category (about 50%), several were in the waitlist category (about 30%), and a few were in the deny category (about 20%). Isser then went about the room, calling on volunteers to stand up and explain their choice, taking in different perspectives and takes on the applicant. He guided the discussions by pausing to pose questions to the audience, “Well what do we know about her personal characteristics?” or “Have we all noticed this pretty size-able gap in her employment history?” or “Is she under-selling her leadership and personal characteristics here?

Many of the volunteers had extremely insightful observations. One girl commented that her employment gap came off the heels of the Great Recession in which the economy made it very difficult for college graduates to find work. Another alluded to the fact that it was concerning her quant score was so low despite dealing primarily in financial appraisals and valuation models; this was compounded by the fact that her quant score didn’t noticeably improve on her second GMAT attempt. To counter this, one guy stated that her work experience and manager’s comments were enough to compensate for this and demonstrated her quantitative prowess.

It was a very resourceful and eye-opening experience – I was able to place myself in the shoes of what it would be like to look at my entire application profile holistically. It also made me pause to consider whether I had not sought enough feedback on my application essays and whether I had truly emphasized to my recommenders just how important this meant for me and for them to do their best in avoiding any generic or rushed responses. While this admissions exercise may not be of much benefit for me and my already submitted applications, it will certainly help me in my few remaining apps and, as I alluded to earlier, will be very helpful for any you future MBA applicants! So go forth and register! And props to NYU Stern Admissions for creatively applying this exercise to their admissions event!

3 Responses to NYU Stern’s Open House Event

  1. I remember doing this when I went to Discover Stern. I did it Kellogg and Wharton as well. It’s a very helpful exercise.

  2. Do my Essay says:

    I remember doing this when I went to Discover Stern. I did it Kellogg and Wharton as well. It’s a very helpful exercise

  3. It’s a very helpful exercise post! do my essay > is sustainable lifestyle brand.

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