As admissions season gears up for 2012, we get back to our ongoing series of interviews with MBA admissions directors. This time, we speak to Lee Milligan, admissions director of the full-time MBA program at Copenhagen Business School.
Copenhagen Business School has 48 full-time MBA students from 24 different countries. How does maintaining this diversity affect MBA admissions decisions? Do you cap admissions from certain countries?
We don’t have any specific caps, but we try to make the program as international as possible, while also trying to maintain the quality of the students. I guess it is a bit of a balancing act. There’s no specific group to whom we would say there’s only a specific number of students.
Do you ever see major spikes in terms of the number of applicants from specific countries?
It really varies from year to year. The more I’m in this job, the more I think it has a great deal to do with economic conditions in the world.
If you look at Germany, for example, two years ago, when the economy was going down, if you went to an MBA fair, for example in Frankfurt, it was absolutely packed. Last year, when suddenly jobs were more readily available, the fairs were extremely quiet. I think it has to do with economic conditions in specific parts of the world and that there is a link with the number of applications from specific regions.
What do you recommend that students do to prepare to go back to school?
We hope that they would be able to develop their plan for how to best use the next two years, in order to get the most out of their MBA. When students first get here, I ask them “what’s your story going to be?” In other words, what are you going to tell a future employer in terms of, here’s what I did before I got my MBA, here’s what I did while getting my MBA, here’s my experience – this is my story.
We want students to be in a position to be able to answer those questions, knowing that the responses might change once they get here, but to have some trajectory in mind from day one.
At the University of Illinois, students can take advantage of a flexible curriculum, where they can, with their electives, take classes even outside the college of business. Because of that flexibility, they have to figure out how they can take advantage of the resources of the university. So I suggest that they familiarize themselves with what they can take advantage of, through, in our case, the University of Illinois.
For example, if you think you want to do marketing, which is a very traditional concentration – maybe you want to get into the mind of a consumer – so you can take a psychology class that might be helpful for you to really get into the behavior and mind of a consumer.