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留学参考:Admissions Directors Weigh in on Data Forms  

2017-05-15 01:24:52|  分类: DIY留学综合信息 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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留学参考:Admissions Directors Weigh in on Data Forms

 

By CA 

 

In recent weeks we’ve featured a couple of admissions tips focused on the evolving nature of data forms as part of the MBA admissions process. Specifically, we’ve noticed that data forms at many schools have grown more extensive in recent years, in some cases in tandem with a move away from requiring candidates to write as many essays. To get a better understanding of this shift—and how candidates can best approach the data forms—we turned to admissions directors at several business schools to get their input.

Sara Neher, assistant dean for MBA admissions at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, acknowledged that Darden’s data form has probably grown more comprehensive in recent years as the school has required candidates to answer fewer long-form essay questions. “We definitely made a conscious choice to drop the second essay about four years ago,” Neher says, adding that the impetus was in part because she and her team didn’t like both questions being asked and in part because they weren’t getting the responses they wanted. “In the past, applicants would frequently take one essay seriously but then copy and paste the second essay from one they did for another school,” she says. Now, having moved to a single, targeted question, her team finds that applicants are much better about providing more focused, Darden-specific responses.

As a result of reducing the number of essays, Neher and her team are now trying to capture more information about candidates in the data forms. “We’re looking to understand what kind of people they are and what they are interested in—but I don’t actually need 500 words about all of those things,” she says. Instead, applicants to Darden can reveal parts of themselves in short responses to questions like “Tell us what you would want your learning team to know about you—personal, professional or both” and “If you could go anywhere in the world with Darden, where would you go and why?”

The question about where you might like to go with Darden is, in part, market research, Neher says. Darden’s Center for Global Initiatives is actually looking to add more trips, so if a critical mass of admitted applicants indicates an interest in a specific location that Darden doesn’t currently travel to, it could result in an added trip. But her team is also just curious to learn what’s top of mind for individual applicants. “When you first read it, what did you think of? That should be your answer,” she says. Whether you respond the Galapagos Islands or Greece or Ghana doesn’t matter—there are no right or wrong answers. “We are more interested in where people want to go and what kind of curiosity they have about that than what they’ve done in the past,” she adds, noting that the intention of the question is absolutely not to make people who have not had the option to travel internationally think that they should have. “Cost can be a factor there, and we definitely understand that.”

The question about learning teams also serves dual purposes, Neher says. “Part of the intention behind that question is to force the applicant to do some research about Darden so they know what a learning team is,” she says. But another part is really to find out what they would want a team to know about them. Answers to this question run the gamut, she adds, and here again, there is really no right or wrong way to respond.

Darden also poses another unique question on its data form: “Charlottesville has a renowned film festival, book festival and vibrant music scene. What is your favorite film, book or song?” This replaces a question in last year’s application about candidates’ favorite foods. “In both cases, it’s a good way to get to know something about the applicant—and also to make reading the applications more enjoyable,” Neher says. This year, while discussing applicants in committee they would often play the favorite song they mentioned, for example. Last year, to welcome incoming students, the admissions team produced a big word cloud with all the different foods applicants indicated so they could see where they fit in. (Pizza was by far the most predominant answer, Neher shares.) She could imagine playing favorite songs as new students from the Class of 2019 file into the auditorium later this summer. “It ends up being a fun way to help them get to know each other,” she notes. Here again, Neher urges applicants not to overthink it too much and just share what comes to their minds first.  

Data Forms at LBS, Haas “Are Not More or Less Important Than Other Sections”
At London Business School (LBS), meanwhile, any changes to data form questions are just part of regular year-to-year revisions, according to Admissions Director David Simpson. “This is not done to counteract the reducing number of essays we ask for—we are not replacing essays with application questions!” he says. The data form questions are quite different from the essays and usually tell his team something very specific about the applicant, he adds. “The entire set of questions helps us to build up a full profile of you, your experiences and your aspirations,” he says.

LBS’s use of data forms hasn’t changed significantly over the years, other than asking a few different questions by adding or dropping one or two each year, Simpson says. “They are not more or less important than other sections—but they can be quite revealing!” he notes. “Together with essays, transcripts, references, test scores, video interview and—most importantly—alumni interview feedback, they provide a holistic view of applicants.”

Because LBS features a specific question about prior international experiences, we asked Simpson about the decision to include it, how responses are evaluated as part of the admissions process and what happens in the event that an applicant doesn’t have prior international experience. “London Business School is a global institution,” he responds. “Everything about us is global, so we really care about your international exposure and experiences.” That said, not everyone has gained international professional experience and many students have only lived and worked in a single country, which is fine. “We wouldn’t want EVERYONE to be a ‘global citizen’ or the experience of working with others from different cultures would be diluted,” Simpson points out, adding that each class at LBS has a healthy mix of students with and without international experience. “At the very least we want to see a strong interest in expanding your global horizons. Asking this question allows us to learn a little about where you’ve been and why it was important to you.”

At UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, Executive Director of Full-Time MBA Admissions Morgan Bernstein echoes Simpson, saying that the data form section is no more or less important than other parts of the application. “This section helps to lay the foundation about the applicant, primarily sharing factual information that is not up for creative interpretation,” she says. The data form has changed very little over the past several years even as Haas has trimmed the number of essays it requires its candidates to answer down to three, she adds.

Like LBS, Haas also includes a question about international experience. “The question specifically asks candidates if they have ever worked, lived or studied abroad,” Bernstein says. “Responses to this question give context to a candidate’s global perspective. That said, we fully understand and appreciate that not all candidates have equal opportunity to international exposure and so we will evaluate a candidate relative to the opportunities that she had available to her.”

Where Else Are You Applying?
LBS and Haas are also among the schools that ask candidates where else they have applied or plan to apply. According to Simpson, his team wants to see where else a candidate is applying but doesn’t use the information to help make an admissions decision. “Candidates should answer this question honestly, there is no ulterior motive, we are just interested,” he says. “We may ask you at interview about your selection of schools—there is no wrong answer to that question as they are your choices.”

Haas’s Bernstein says much the same. “This information is primarily used for internal reporting purposes, such as helping us to better understand our program peer set from the applicant’s perspective, so there is no right or wrong answer,” she says. “I would encourage candidates to be transparent in their responses and reassure them that the Admissions Committee does not make admission decisions based on the likelihood of an admit accepting our offer,” she adds.

Do You Have Family Members Who Attended X School?
Darden is one of a handful of schools that asks candidates if they have any family members who attended Darden or the University of Virginia. “Some of it is just curiosity,” says Neher, adding that in some cases she’ll actually know the family member. But it also helps put a candidate’s knowledge of Darden into context, she adds. For example, if an interviewer says that a candidate didn’t seem to know as much about Darden as she might have hoped, Neher and her team can look at the application and see that they have no family with any connection to the school, which means unfamiliarity would make sense. In contrast, if a candidate didn’t know much about the school and yet had family members who attended, it sends a signal that perhaps they didn’t put much effort into getting to know Darden and maybe aren’t as interested in attending.

At the same time, Neher does like to have people with a connection to Darden in every incoming class. “Students are only here for two years, so having someone with some familiarity with UVA, Darden and/or Charlottesville really helps,” she says.

On Including Questions about Gender, Sexual Orientation
Increasingly, business schools are providing opportunities for applicants to indicate gender identity and sexual orientation as part of their data forms. For example, Haas includes the question “Do you identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Queer?” as part of its personal data section. “Responses to this question are in no way used to inform a decision about an applicant’s candidacy,” stresses Bernstein. “This information is primarily used for internal reporting purposes and/or to communicate relevant information to prospective students—such as messages from Q@Haas, our student organization supporting the LGBTQ community,” she says.

Darden also includes a question about sexual orientation, responses to which can help qualify candidates for specific fellowships Darden offers for LGBTQ students, Neher says. The Darden data form also includes an open-ended question on gender identity, a change from last year’s form. “Some schools list options for people, but I just think it’s more fluid than that these days,” she says as explanation of the shift.

Many people opt not to fill out these portions of the data form, which is fine, Neher says. But in some cases, it can be particularly beneficial for applicants to use the data forms as a place to share information they might not be comfortable discussing in an interview. “I encourage applicants to fill out those questions in the data form because then, if they don’t feel comfortable talking about them in the interview, I know there is more to that person,” she says.

“I will tell you that students who keep personal things private as a part of the business school interview process feel to us like they are hiding something,” she says. “When I see a note from an interviewer that says, ‘I feel like this person wasn’t telling me everything about themselves,’ I will look at the application and see that they selected one of those boxes, and think, ‘Oh, that’s probably what it was.’”

LBS does not collect information on sexual orientation, according to Simpson. “I think this is where U.S. and U.K./European schools differ,” he says. “We do, however, ask students to indicate if they would like to find out more and be contacted by various student clubs, including our powerful and growing Out In Business Club.” While the offer to get connected with students from the club is entirely optional, he hopes that students with an interest will indicate it because doing so allows the school to show what an important part of its community the club and its members are.

Don’t Leave Them to the Last Minute, Answer the Questions, Don’t Overthink Things
“I think sometimes people do leave the data forms to the last minute,” Neher says. “I would say to applicants, ‘Please read the data form all the way back from beginning to end, because that’s how I’m going to read it.’” Doing so will help catch things that don’t make sense or aren’t consistent with the overall story your application tells.

“My other advice is to answer the questions,” Neher continues. “Not everyone does and then we go, “Why didn’t they answer this question?’” But beyond that, she urges applicants not to spend too much time on the forms or rewrite them 20 times. “It’s really primarily about finding out what you are interested in,” she says.

Haas’s Bernstein concurs. “Don’t overthink it!” she stresses. “This section is important, for sure, but the questions are fairly straightforward and your responses should be too. Relatively speaking, you are better off allocating your creative energy to other sections of the application, such as the essays and the resume.”

Adhering to the theme, Simpson at LBS offers these parting words of advice: “Keep the information concise, honest and think about what would be useful for us to read. If we ask you a question, we want to see the answer, so do not miss any out!”

In case you missed our earlier posts on data forms, check out this one on commonly asked data form questions and this one on unique questions asked by individual schools. Best of luck completing your data forms!

 

 

以上内容摘自:

https://www.clearadmit.com/2016/12/admissions-directors-weigh-data-forms/ 

 

 

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