Harvard | Mr. Political Consultant
GRE 337, GPA 3.85
Stanford GSB | Mr. Singing Banking Lawyer
GMAT 720, GPA 110-point scale. Got 110/110 with honors
Berkeley Haas | Ms. 10 Years Experience
GMAT To be taken, GPA 3.1
MIT Sloan | Mr. Refinery Engineer
GMAT 700- will retake, GPA 3.87
Yale | Ms. Social Impact AKS
GRE 315, GPA 7.56
Said Business School | Mr. Across The Pond
GMAT 680, GPA 2.8
Yale | Mr. Army Infantry Officer
GMAT 730, GPA 2.83
Wharton | Mr. Army & Consulting
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 360 Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
N U Singapore | Ms. Biomanager
GMAT 520, GPA 2.8
MIT Sloan | Mr. Low GPA Over Achiever
GMAT 700, GPA 2.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. Corp Finance
GMAT 740, GPA 3.75
Harvard | Mr. Improve Healthcare
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Wake Up & Grind
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5
Darden | Mr. Fintech Nerd
GMAT 740, GPA 7.7/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Minority Champ
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Darden | Mr. Senior Energy Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 2.5
Harvard | Mr. Merchant Of Debt
GMAT 760, GPA 3.5 / 4.0 in Master 1 / 4.0 in Master 2
Stanford GSB | Mr. Indian Telecom ENG
GRE 340, GPA 3.56
Stanford GSB | Ms. East Africa Specialist
GMAT 690, GPA 3.34
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Hanging By A Thread
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. Nonprofit Social Entrepreneur
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Chicago Booth | Ms. Start-Up Entrepreneur
GRE 318 current; 324 intended, GPA 3.4
Duke Fuqua | Ms. Health Care Executive
GMAT 690, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. Professional Boy Scout
GMAT 660, GPA 3.83
IU Kelley | Mr. Construction Manager
GRE 680, GPA 3.02
IU Kelley | Mr. Clinical Trial Ops
GMAT Waived, GPA 3.33

The Gatekeeper to Cornell’s Johnson School of Management

So in effect, the second read occurs by the committee.

Essentially, you almost do another read but this time you have more in-depth information. With the reading tool we have, you can highlight certain passages of the essays in a much better way. So when we decide, we decide as a group.

You actually vote? Is it possible that there could be four people in favor of an applicant and two against?

We don’t officially vote. We’ll talk through it. Essentially, it is up to me, though I don’t throw that out there. Everyone around that table has an equal say and I feel strongly about that. If I feel very strongly for or against, I’ll put that out there and I encourage them to do that as well. The admissions committee is a sacred environment. It is where you have to be honest about people and about what you think. You can’t be afraid to throw out anything that you are thinking. That’s why when I was hiring these two recruiters in my office I talked a lot about this admissions committee. What is said in committee is confidential. These are our applicants and we don’t talk about our applicants outside that office.

And when do these meetings begin?

Hopefully, by the beginning of December.

What percentage of the pool do you interview?

We get about 2,200 applicants. We did about 700 to 800 interviews last year.

So an applicant essentially has a one in three chance of being interviewed. And what percentage out of that would get a yes from admissions?

Our acceptance rate last year was the same even though our applications went up. That was 27%. I threw out offers to people I wanted in the class. We fought very hard to get them because we put them into alumni prediction dinners.

That’s a term I’ve never heard. What is an alumni prediction dinner?

In about 25 cities across the world, our alumni get together for dinner and it’s called a prediction dinner because they predict five to ten years out what will happen to the economy.  We feature high-profile alums. We invite anyone who was admitted to go to these dinners. And if you make your deposit, I will pay for your dinner. That’s a $75 to a $100 meal.

And do you have a lot of scholarship money available to help land the best and the brightest in the applicant pool?

I would say you never ever have enough. It has become more competitive. You use scholarship as merit based to bring in the best class. Everybody does it differently depending on their pool, how competitive it is, if their yield is down and what not. I feel fortunate that we bring in over 100 candidates over three different weekends to assess them for our most prestigious scholarships. It’s the Park Scholarships. We also look at The Consortium fellows and Forte fellows. We have military scholarships and we also have scholarships for specific areas like banking and marketing.

In a sense, I’m telling people, ‘Congratulations! You are the top of the round for us. This is a big achievement and we are bringing you in to get to know you better and to give you a sense of what goes on here.’ For all intent and purpose, it could be an admit weekend but with a little more competition to it because obviously we are all assessing over who is going to get a Park scholarship or a Consortium fellow scholarship.

And I bet there are more adcom meetings for those decisions.

Yes. Once you click into admissions mode, you get pretty impressed with the people you remember and who make an impression. That’s your intuition and your gut speaking to you.

Christine, what do you dislike about your job?

I’ve started to make a list of all the things I just can’t get to. There are a lot of ideas and initiatives I want to start. But there is only so much time in the day. You have to get through those applications. Right now, we’re switching off recruiting and get back in reading applications and deciding.

The Johnson School has a new dean. Does that factor into admission policies? Does the dean shape the admit pool in a discernable way?

That’s a really good question. Dean Dutta has said, thank you, we’re so happy to have you. He trusts me. He’s getting a lot of prospective students to talk to. He’s looping me in on those conversations.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.