applying to grad school

The College Scoops Podcast

Episode 102: What Do Schools Look For When Applying To Grad School

December 14, 2021

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For those who want to attend business or grad school, whether you are newly graduated from college or you have several years of  work experience, applicants have to put their best foot forward in their application. Applying to college and applying to graduate or business school are two different games, but Alison Merzel, a former admissions counselor and founder of AHM Advising, provides advice to help applicants throughout the process. Alison also touches on how demonstrated interest factors into the application and the importance of connecting with your admission counselors to give you the edge in your application.

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Key Takeaways:

  • Take the GRE when you are in college. It makes your life much easier 
  • What do you want out of a business school experience?
  • When applying, work experience is important! But it ultimately depends on the school that you are applying. Make sure you know the expectations, ask the school!
  •   If you are interested in the school, make sure that they knew it! Keep up the interaction with the school prior to your application. Engage with the school. They will know when you do! 
  • Just because you are getting emails doesn’t mean you are showing demonstrated interest!  Make sure you move down the funnel. You can still do this after you submit your application.
  • Use social media accounts to see what is going on campus! 
  • Admission counselors want to advocate for you! 
  • If you get to interview- bring questions. Not basic ones but thoughtful ones.
  • Connect with your interviewer, find common ground. They are people too! It doesn’t always have to be serious. Share something about yourself. Not just your grades or extracurricular- about you as a person! 
  • Schools do factor in the demonstrated interest in their admissions process. Check out the school’s common data set, which students can find by googling the university or college name and “common data set” – it is usually housed in the institutional research section of the website. Section C has First-Time First-Year Admissions Data and C7 has a chart that shows the factors used in the admissions process, including whether Level of Applicant’s Interest is Very Important, Important, Considered or Not Considered!

Important Resources and Links

AHM Advising

Meet Alison Merzel

Alison Merzel is an Independent Educational Consultant (IEC) with extensive knowledge and experience in higher education and a passion for helping people maximize their potential. She is the owner of AHM Advising LLC, where she works with students and families as they prepare for post-secondary educational opportunities. She launched AHM Advising after 15 years at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, where she worked as Senior Director of Recruiting, Admissions and Financial Aid for the Full-Time and Working Professional MBA programs.

Alison has been affiliated with numerous professional organizations, having consulted with the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) and served on the advisory board of Liaison International’s BusinessCAS, a centralized application service for business schools. She is currently on the Member Advisory Board for College Planner Pro, the leading college planning software for IECs.

Alison holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Northwestern University, a Master’s in Human Resources from The Ohio State University, and a certificate in Independent Educational Consulting certification through UC Irvine Division of Continuing Education. She is a member of Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), the Ohio Association of Financial Aid Administrators (OASFAA), National Association of College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) and the Ohio Association for College Admissions Counseling (OACAC).

Thank you Alison for joining us today. As a former admissions representative you share many helpful tips for students or graduates applying to business school. Take your GRE/GMAT’s as an undergraduate. The scores are good for 5 years and it is far easier when you are already in the testing mode. While conducting research for business or graduate programs, look at their requirement for professional experience. Demonstrated interest is valued in graduate applications as much as undergraduate. Don’t be a stealth applicant! There are many ways to show your interest in an institution so take advantage of this opportunity and it is also a great way for you to vet out the institution and student community to see if it is a good fit for you. 

Episode 102 Full Transcript

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College Scoops has a team of college interns who share their insights and expertise with our community. Our team consists of editors, writers, videographers, social media experts, and storytellers who work hard to produce relevant and interesting content for students (and parents) whether they are applying to, attending or graduating from college.

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