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Georgetown Switches Up Essay, Adds Video

Shari Hubert, associate dean of MBA admissions at Georgetown's McDonough School of Business. Courtesy photo

Shari Hubert, associate dean of MBA admissions at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. Courtesy photo

GMAT scores. Recommendation letter. Work experience. Undergraduate school. Generosity of spirit. These are all things Georgetown McDonough School of Business full-time MBA hopefuls will need to consider for this year’s application round.

McDonough announced today (August 12) its new application essay question will be, “What matters to you?” The question, which mirrors “What matters most to you and why?” from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, is designed to help the admissions team evaluate an applicant’s “generosity of spirit,” says Shari Hubert, McDonough’s associate dean of MBA admissions.

The new question replaces last year’s simple prompt: “Why You?” which was accompanied with the hint that Georgetown was “looking for an answer that cannot be found from research on our website.” The new essay must be no longer than 500 words, 250 words shorter than last year’s essay. The school says that applicants should share an experience from their past that illustrates “why this matters to you and how it will enable you to contribute during your MBA program.”


“One thing that separates the experience at Georgetown apart is the ethos,” Hubert says during an interview with Poets&Quants. “Saying, ‘I can win but it doesn’t have to be at your expense.’ Or, ‘You can win but it doesn’t have to be at my expense.’ If we’re equally successful, it only augments the value of the degree. It only augments the value of our brand. But in order for that to happen, you’ve got to demonstrate a generosity of spirit.”

In addition to the new question, McDonough applicants will also need to go in front of the camera and submit a one-minute video introducing themselves to their potential classmates. Both changes, Hubert explains, are designed to gain a more “holistic” view of the applicant, as well as screen for cultural fit.

“We really wanted to incorporate things in the application that allow us to get a better holistic, 360 view of the applicant,” Hubert says. “We recognize how much effort people put into the application, and it’s really hard sometimes to get to know someone fully though pieces of paper.”


Essentially, Hubert says, the two additions will help the admissions team assess a candidate’s potential for contributions in and out of the classroom, how they will interact with classmates, and how they will look in front of corporate recruiters — or their “executive presence.” Helping classmates, commitment to service, and Jesuit values are all things Hubert and her team are hoping to get better at identifying in the application process. “We’re trying to figure out how to assess that more during the application process,” she says. “Until now we really haven’t had a way to evaluate that.”

“We’re trying to get them to think about what’s really important to them,” she continues. “What is important to them and how do they plan to use that to inform how they will use their MBA? How will that influence what contributions they make to the program, for themselves and classmates?”


For the video essay, Hubert says to take it seriously — but not too seriously. She says an applicant should focus on what they want to get out of the MBA experience, what they will add to the experience, and what value they bring as a classmate. “We are looking for people who are polished, with an executive presence,” she says, noting the video portion will be weighted equally with every other piece of the application packet. “We are looking for people who are confident and enthusiastic.”

Also, Hubert explains, the video serves as a good way for applicants to let their personalities show. Humor and upbeat energy are definitely bonuses, she says.

Georgetown’s Round 1 deadline is October 10, with decisions going out December 20. With the addition of the video, McDonough joins a growing list of elite B-schools, including Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and Yale’s School of Management, to incorporate some sort of video into their full-time MBA application process. That trend started with the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Those schools, however, require applicants to answer spontaneous questions posed on video.