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University of Chicago GSB

The addition of a presentation component in the University of Chicago’s graduate application also acknowledges Microsoft’s PowerPoint as an essential tool for today’s tech-savvy, business world. “No one in business today could pretend to be facile in business communications without PowerPoint,” said a declarative Clarke L. Caywood, associate professor of integrated marketing at Northwestern University in an interview with The Chicago Tribune. “It’s like being able to read.”

First created in 1984 at Forethought, a small software company in the Silicon Valley, the visual aid program was originally titled Presenter. In 1987, Presenter was acquired by Microsoft, where it quickly became known as PowerPoint. Now PowerPoint is an internationally recognized program, with 500 million registered copies creating an estimated 30 million presentations a day, but despite PowerPoint’s obvious popularity in the corporate world at large, until Chicago’s recent addition PowerPoint hasn’t been utilized in MBA graduate applications.

Surveying other top B schools recently to see if they too are eagerly adding the presentation element to their own graduate applications, surprisingly, many are doggedly sticking to the essay question. Brent Chrite, associate dean and director of the MBA program at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management, recently told The Arizona Daily Star, “[the PowerPoint presentation’s] an innovative and interesting idea. It’s just not clear to me how that format lets you capture the [applicant’s] depth of insight that’s important to us.” A recent email from the admissions committee at Dartmouth College’s Tuck [SCHOOL OF BUSINESS] shares a similar, albeit frank response to the PowerPoint-presentations-in-future-applications query, “We do not require and do not envision requiring a powerpoint.”

Countering this, Martinelli asserts that today’s business environment consistently demands brief yet informative communication. MBA applicants should then readily reflect their capacity to work under these constraints, and a PowerPoint presentation is the best means of judging that quality. “Whether it be e-mail, PowerPoint or a two-minute elevator speech, successful businesspeople need to learn how to express their full ideas in very restrictive formats. We feel the new application requirement represents this very common challenge,” said Martinelli in an interview with EditorsChoice.

Perhaps, as Martinelli told BusinessWeek, there is a “buzz in the market,” and more B schools in future MBA graduate applications will eventually adopt the PowerPoint presentation as a valid form of an applicant’s disposition and achievements. For now, though, many B schools are concerning themselves with enhancing their essay questions. Many top B schools now have more contemporary essay queries like Harvard’s, “How have you experienced culture shock?” and the University of California, Berkley’s Haas {SCHOOL OF BUSINESS}’s, “If you could have dinner with one individual in the past, present, or future, who would it be and why?” that provoke more personal responses.

After a successful pilot, the highly esteemed University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business has officially accepted the PowerPoint presentation as an integral component of their graduate application. In addition to the two traditional essay questions, a mandatory four-slide PowerPoint presentation will be included as a means to better know their prospective students and attract more innovative thinkers to the university. “We wanted to have a freeform space for students to be able to say what they think is important,” Rose Martinelli, associate dean for student recruitment and admissions at the University of Chicago and key admissions officer behind the decision recently expressed in an interview with The Washington Post. “To me this is just four pieces of blank paper. You do what you want. It can be a presentation. It can be poetry. It can be anything.” Although this ambiguity may seem a bit daunting to MBA applicants, Chicago has set the following ground rules:

 * The PowerPoint presentation must be no more than four slides.
* The presentation must consist of “static” slides, or slides that do not contain hyperlinks or video as each presentation will be printed and added to their application file for review by the admissions committee.
* A Word document containing notes may be attached to the presentation if an applicant feels a further explanation of his or her slides is necessary.

As to Martinelli’s expectations: “I really don’t know what we’re going to get,” she recently told The Washington Post. However, after reviewing thousands of pilot presentation submissions this past year, Martinelli does know that more conservative slideshows did not fair as well. With only four slides given, a nebulous question and the desire to stand out, it may seem instinctual for applicants to immerse themselves in constructing the visual aspects of the presentation first. However, an applicant’s first focus should be finding something distinctive about themselves that would be beneficial for the Chicago admissions committee to know and was not previously addressed in earlier essays. Only after securing a sound topic should applicants “get creative” with their presentations through the use of strong pictures, legible fonts, and colors. In addition, applicants should also bear in mind that their projects will be printed out before they are judged by the admissions committee. “You could tell when someone figured out how to work with the ambiguity and really embraced that,” Martinelli told BusinessWeek, favoring the applicants who weren’t “going to play it safe and regurgitate what is in my application already.”

Martinelli later conceded to BusinessWeek that the university may “put some further context or shape around it [the PowerPoint presentation],” but for now, the former guidelines and restrictions (and ambiguity) will apply.

Below is the actual PowerPoint question you can find the Chicago GSB application.

Chicago GSB PowerPoint Presentation

We have asked for a great deal of information throughout this application and now invite you tell us about yourself. Using four slides or less, please provide readers with content that captures who you are.

We have set forth the following guidelines for you to consider when creating your presentation.

The content is completely up to you. There is no right or wrong approach this essay. Feel free to use the software you are most comfortable with. Acceptable formats for upload in the online application system are PowerPoint or PDF.

There is a strict maximum of 4 slides, though you can provide fewer than 4 if you choose.

Slides will be printed and added to your file for review, therefore, flash, hyperlinks, embedded videos, music, etc. will not be viewed by the committee. You are limited to text and static images to convey your points. Color may be used.

Slides will be evaluated on the quality of content and ability to convey your ideas, not on technical expertise or presentation.

You are welcome to attach a document containing notes if you feel a deeper explanation of your slides is necessary. However the hope is the slide is able to stand alone and convey your ideas clearly. You will not be penalized for adding notes but you should not construct a slide with the intention of using the notes section as a consistent means of explanation.


Posted on October 18, 2008 by Manhattan Review

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EMBA programs tend to be more flexible than MBA programs in terms of their GMAT requirement.Executive MBA programs tend to draw applicants with a large amount of professional experience. EMBA applicants generally occupy leadership roles in corporations both prior to and following their degrees, thus a different skill set than that tested by the GMAT is seen as applicable. These other skills, some EMBA programs find, are best measured not on the basis of GMAT scores, but on the basis of professional and academic experience.

Only a few EMBA programs have opted to eliminate the requirement completely. Among those are the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler program One MBA, the EMBA program at the University of Michigan, and the EMBA program at the University of Chicago’s GSB. Michigan, for example, offers an optional refresher course for the EMBA students who need quantitative review.

Other EMBA programs have chosen to waive the requirement in certain circumstances. At Duke University’s Fuqua EMBA program, it is not so easy to get a waiver. Waivers are granted in circumstances where a candidate has proven quantitative skills and attained a highly technical MA or PhD. NYU Stern and the Goosewetta Business School at Emery University accept waivers in certain cases.

Other schools like USC tell applicants that the GMAT is highly recommended, but not required. If a candidate’s experience and/or prior training or study do not prove an applicant’s quantitative capacity, the admissions committee might be concerned about their quantitative skill level without the GMAT to attest otherwise.

The main concern expressed among schools that continue to maintain their GMAT requirement is ensuring a standard of quantitative ability. Some EMBA programs that continue to require the GMAT in all cases include the University of Texas McCombs and the University of Pennsylvania Wharton.

Though requirements do seem to be changing, at the moment it’s clear that a good GMAT score is helpful in EMBA programs admissions decisions, especially when there is any concern about a candidate’s quantitative skills.