THE ADMISSIONS SEASON KICKED OFF IN OCTOBER WHEN THE FIRST APPLICATIONS CAME STREAMING IN
But this year’s admissions season actually began in October, when the officers began considering applicants who met Rotman’s round one deadline of Oct. 9th. It won’t end until June 30th, when the school says yes or not to domestic candidates who apply in the fifth and final round on June 1.
Da Silva would be the first to concede that MBA admissions is more an art than a science, with the decisions based on a mix of quick judgments, gut and the raw numbers. She and her colleagues will consider an applicant’s undergraduate grades, GMAT or GRE scores, work history and recommendations.
They also will judge candidates by their responses to two written essay questions:
1) Discuss your personal and professional development over the past five years and describe how these changes have led you to choose to do your MBA at this time. What are your career goals and how will a Rotman MBA help you to achieve them?
2) Tell us about a time when you had to overcome an obstacle and describe the outcome.
Da Silva also is piloting this year a new and to some intimidating video component that requires candidates to answer two questions at their computer without any advance preparation. Applicants get 45 seconds to prepare and 90 seconds to answer each question.
DA SILVA IS THE FIRST TO SCREEN EVERY APPLICATION BEFORE MOVING THEM ON
When an application arrives at Rotman, da Silva will see it first for a quick screen that might last only a few minutes. If a GMAT score is woefully low, something in the 500s, or a candidate is too old for a full-time MBA program, in the mid-to-late thirties, da Silva might immediately toss out the file. This is the sorry fate of 5% to 10% of all the applications Rotman receives in any given year.
Otherwise, the file is assigned to one of da Silva’s six assistant admission directors. Collectively, the group has more than a half a century of experience in admissions. Each adcom member then will spend between 15 to 30 minutes reviewing an application before deciding whether to invite a candidate to interview in person or via Skype. Last year, Rotman interviewed 70% of its applicant pool. Once an interview is complete, an admissions officer will assign the applicant a grade (50 is the highest possible score) and recommend that the candidate be admitted, rejected or placed on a waitlist.
Then, the applicant’s profile comes to the full admissions committee, which will meet at least four times for each of the five application deadlines at Rotman—a minimum of 20 times in all during the admissions season, with each session lasting as long as three hours to decide the fate of an applicant.
MEET NIKI DA SILVA: ROTMAN’S DIRECTOR OF ADMISSIONS WHO COULD EASILY BE MISTAKEN FOR AN MBA STUDENT
Da Silva, 34, could easily be mistaken for an MBA student in Rotman’s halls. Yet, in the past eight years, she has evaluated more than 10,000 MBA applicants at the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario and at Rotman, which she joined in January of last year.
Like most admission directors, she stumbled into the job. She earned an undergraduate degree in business from Ivey in 2003, spent two years teaching undergrads as a pre-business lecturer and then landed a job as manager of MBA recruitment and admissions at the school. “No one grows up wanting to be an admissions officer,” says da Silva. “That would be strange. I just fell into it.”
A petite brunette with blue eyes and shoulder length hair, da Silva is smart, charming and energetic. A perfect smile and an ebullient personality make her a welcoming sentry at the gate of a business school that is clearly on the rise. A former colleague who has endorsed her on LinkedIn puts it this way: “Niki has a unique warmth, kindness and ability to make you feel like the most important person she’ll talk to that day.”