Interview with an Assistant Dean of Admissions
Insider insights to applying for admission to an MBA or M.Ed program
Published January 30, 2012
Thank you to Dean Charles Tate, Assistant Dean of Admission for the MBA and M.Ed programs at University of Mary Washington, for participating in our Admissions Spotlight Series.
As the Assistant Dean of Admissions to the Graduate Programs for the College of Business and the College of Education, what are your day-to-day responsibilities?
Counseling potential students, reviewing files for admission, and recruitment of potential students take up most of my day, but as a member of the UMW community, I am involved in a great deal of committee work to help ensure our processes are efficient and student-friendly.
What do you consider the most significant parts of an application, the parts which applicants should prepare the most carefully?
The essays required for the Master of Education program are valued by the faculty members making admissions decisions. We counsel students to take time with the essays to demonstrate the ability to write in correct English prose. For our M.Ed. program we advise that the essays should be about 2-3 pages double-spaced and well-supported.
Is there anything you frequently see on an application that you hope to never see again?
We like to see applicants who are seriously interested in teaching. We counsel students that going into teaching is a serious commitment—applicants should consider the responsibilities of becoming a teacher before beginning a program like ours. An essay that conveys an interest in teaching so you can have summers off is something I hope to never see again.
What common pitfalls should applicants be careful to avoid?
Students should take time with their application, especially the essays, and apply early enough so that their transcripts can arrive before the filing date. In order to license a teacher in most subjects, the Commonwealth of Virginia, for example, requires a student to complete a specific group of subject area courses. If a potential student is unsure of whether he or she has completed those courses as an undergraduate they should contact our office and we will review the transcripts.
Are there any myths about the application process which you would like to dispel?
The admissions process and the faculty review are set up to admit students, not turn students away. Frequently, the Office of Admissions and the faculty members who review applications end up being student advocates and making the case for the student to be admitted.
What advice would you give to an applicant with below-average test scores but significant extra-curricular or work experience?
The faculty is certainly looking for well-rounded students and while things like GPA and test scores are very important they are not the only factors considered. Schedule a pre-admission advising appointment and let us walk you through the process and options. Often there are things a potential student can do that will strengthen an application: getting the application in on- time, proof-reading essays, and scoring well on standardized tests to name a few.
Do you frequently have to turn away applicants whom you wish you could admit? If so, what could those applicants do to be admitted?
Through the pre-admission advising process, we help applicants who are inadmissible now, understand ways to find success later—revising essays, strengthen a low GPA through additional coursework or retaking standardized tests help to strengthen an application.
How much faith do you have in the ability of the GMAT or GRE to predict success at your MBA and M.ED programs?
For the MBA program the GMAT or GRE in combination with grades are good predictors of academic success. Standardized tests help to level the playing field for students from different universities. The MEd is a little different since Virginia requires Praxis tests for admission into our program.
What do you look for in a recommendation letter?
While every institution is different, UMW uses a recommendation form to evaluate a student’s potential for success in the program. Integrity, communication skills and motivation are some of the factors considered on the recommendation form.
Suppose an applicant has little or no experience relevant to your program, but has significant experience in other fields. What can that applicant do to distinguish himself or herself in your eyes as a good candidate for your program?
It is highly recommended that graduate business students have work experience. Education students must demonstrate an understanding what it is like to deal with young people. Those experiences are invaluable.
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