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Time For Adcoms To Go Back To School?

Emilie Cushman, co-founder of Kira Talent

Emilie Cushman, co-founder of Kira Talent

Do business school admission officials need to go back to school? Emilie Cushman, co-founder of Kira Talent, apparently thinks so.

At a time when applicants are dropping thousands of dollars on admissions consultants and on-going debates about bias in college admissions, Kira is launching a new online course today (March 31) to help admissions offices improve the way they admit, deny and enroll students. Kira University, an arm under the Kira Talent umbrella, will offer a free four-lesson course for business school admissions officials called The Master of Business School Admissions (MBSA). The course is geared toward improving the admissions process from recruitment through enrollment.

“The MBSA features four weeks of lessons that span the entire recruitment and admissions cycle,” explains Emilie Cushman, co-founder of Kira Talent and graduate of the University of Toronto. “At a high level, we’re aiming to give admissions teams a chance to step outside of ‘this is the way we’ve always done it’ and apply some fresh thinking and creative ideas to their work.”


The first section is called Think Like a Marketer and is aimed at increasing applicant volume. Cushman says the first part of the course examines why students apply to business school and ways recruiters can implement sales and marketing techniques into their initial recruitment. The course then follows the natural application cycle with a focus on identifying top talent, assessing students more effectively and cultivating the best cohort.

“We look at methods to remedy known flaws in business school admissions like reviewer bias and application fraud, offering up resources to build a review process that is both fair and consistent,” Cushman explains. “It sounds like common sense, but we’ve been amazed by how few schools have stuff like this figured out.”

Finally, the course examines ways to improve yield management strategies. “All of these efforts in marketing, identifying, and reviewing students are lost if schools can’t seal the deal,” Cushman insists.


The course stems from the conversations Kira Talent has had with “hundreds” of business school admissions offices. According to Cushman, the course aims to help with two patterns they found in the conversations. First, many admissions offices have invented their “own way” of the application process and do not have the time or resources to “explore or implement improvements.” Second, Cushman says, there is a “reluctance” within the industry to share secrets because of how competitive it has become to snare the best students.

The need and interest already seem to be there. Cushman says they’ve already had early registration from more than 50 business schools. The course was initially designed for graduate admissions, but they’ve seen a few registrants at the undergraduate level as well. Since the course is online, admissions offices and individuals may complete it at their own pace.


Cushman believes the course is part of a larger trend that is relevant to B-school and college applicants moving forward.

“Applicants may not initially think this course is particularly relevant to them, but it’s part of a larger movement towards a fairer admissions process,” says Cushman. “A number of news articles and research papers in the last year accuse college admissions of being dated, biased and in need of a refresh. While universities, with their size and scale, can be difficult places to sway change, their core objective remains to disseminate and create knowledge.”

Ultimately, the course not only wants to make the admissions process better, but improve the larger B-school network, too, he adds.

“We believe admissions teams genuinely want to attract students that are the best fit for their programs, review and admit applicants in the fairest way possible, and make decisions that result in better classroom discussions and stronger alumni networks,” says Cushman. “This course helps them do that, while forcing discussions that may be challenging to open up otherwise.”