Peek behind the curtain: A real look at MBA admissions

MBA admissions is an interesting business. We are tasked with creating classes every year that become a part of our school’s community and representatives of our school to the world for the rest of their lives. We endorse incoming students and hope they live up to their essays and letters of recommendation. Based on mostly self-reported information, test scores, transcripts, and an interview, we make life-altering decisions. We hold the bar; we are the gatekeepers, and if we get it wrong, it will come back around to us.

I, personally, believe I have admitted people who will change the world in large and small ways. As the Associate Dean for MBA Admissions at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, I know I will do it again and again because I believe there is no better preparation to be an organizational leader than an MBA.

Before a new MBA student has a chance to pick up a branded fleece at the bookstore, our team is out on the road answering the same questions again and sharing this year’s course de jour with a new group of smiling, pre-applicants who are looking to make a good impression and who’s fate is to yet to be determined. Year in and year out the cycle runs its course.

Success is sweet but fleeting.

And we love it.

We love it because we believe in the power of an MBA as a transformative experience. We believe in the values of our institutions and have seen the power of our networks. That power is not just fueled by common academic study but by the shared values taught, experienced, and ingrained throughout the program and beyond.

We know each incoming class becomes a part of something bigger than themselves. In our fast-paced, digital world where an occasional “like” and a happy birthday posted on a “wall” passes for a relationship, belonging to a real—and lasting—community is important. It provides our students and alumni something they can count on for the rest of their lives.

Now more than ever, that matters.

We love it because we have seen the success stories. And for me, success can’t be measured by rankings or even by career outcomes (love you, Career Management Center)! Success is hearing someone talk about the first time they were invited to a meeting with senior leadership and could not only follow the conversation but contribute to it.

Success is our alumni leading teams and coaching their direct reports to promotion.

Success is hearing, time and time again, about how a member of the Goizueta community came to a professional crossroads and turned to their Goizueta network for insights to optimize their path forward.

Success is seeing Goizueta at all levels of an organization from the C-suite to the intern program.

Success is witnessing our alumni change the world by leveraging the power of business to create social change.

So tell me your story. Share with me your vision. And just maybe, you will be the next changemaker I have the privilege of admitting into the Goizueta MBA program.

Melissa Rapp

Melissa Rapp

Melissa Rapp is the Associate Dean of MBA Admissions at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. In this role, she leads the team responsible for the recruitment, evaluation, and matriculation of students across Goizueta’s portfolio of MBA programs. Melissa has worked at both small and large institutions helping to form and implement admissions strategies. Most recently, she was Director of Admissions for Full-Time MBA and MSMS programs at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Kansas and a masters from Baker University.