The MBA Gatekeeper At UT McCombs

Rodrigo Malta, director of MBA admissions, UT-Austin McCombs School

Rodrigo Malta, director of MBA admissions, UT-Austin McCombs School

For applicants at the University of Texas-Austin McCombs School of Business, there’s such a thing as “too much” –  but not always. A would-be McCombs MBA might badger the admissions office too much, crossing the line from diligence to harassment. An applicant may spend too much time applying at too many other schools, diluting the power of their application.

But you can’t have too much Longhorn pride. When McCombs MBA admissions director Rodrigo Malta says “we bleed burnt orange here at McCombs,” he means it: passion for the University of Texas-Austin Longhorns runs deep in the business school, and in its admissions office.

Now, lest the idea arise that arriving for a McCombs admissions interview dressed as Longhorns mascot Bevo the steer would guarantee admission, it must be stated that an affinity for burnt orange is only one among several important criteria evaluated by the school’s admissions team. Undergraduate GPA and GMAT score are, naturally, key elements of admissions decision-making, as are work experience, personal qualities, interpersonal skills, and leadership abilities.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION TO A COMMON ADMISSIONS PROBLEM

However, one obstacle looms up frequently between applicants and admissions officers: applicants don’t always do the most effective job in presenting themselves. Fortunately, says Malta, there’s a simple solution: tell the team, honestly, who you are and what you’re all about, rather than telling them what you think they want to hear.

UT-Austin mascot Bevo with handlers    - Wikimedia Commons photo

UT-Austin mascot Bevo with handlers – Wikimedia Commons photo

Malta himself is a McCombs MBA, having studied there from 2005 to 2007, after spending four-and-a-half years as a senior auditor for Sprint. Directly out of his MBA program, he worked for Dell in Texas for 16 months as a product consultant, then returned to McCombs, as associate director for MBA admissions, working in that position for just under two years before receiving a promotion to MBA admissions director in 2010.

Students at McCombs, by the numbers:

School data Class of 2016 Class of 2015
Enrolled students 270  275
Women 32% 26%
U.S. minorities 21% 20%
International students 25% 20%
Average undergrad GPA 3.4  3.39
Average GMAT 694  690

Source: McCombs School

In the following Q&A, Malta discusses what it takes to get into the McCombs MBA program, and how applicants can best navigate the process – without spreading themselves too thinly, or becoming admissions-team stalkers. He offers advice on admissions essays, and video submissions. He discloses that while some admissions officers at McCombs have received painted portraits of themselves from applicants, he has not. And he answers the burning question, “If I send the McCombs MBA admissions director a cake to sweeten up my application, is he likely to eat it?”

NEXT PAGE: Q&A WITH MCCOMBS SCHOOL MBA ADMISSIONS DIRECTOR RODRIGO MALTA

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