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Admissions Tips from Penn State MBA

This week, we’re sharing another interview in our “Admissions FAQ’s” series! Meet Ann Mallison, Associate Director of admissions at Penn State Smeal MBA.

Q: What type of person do you think would really thrive at the Penn State School of Business? 

A: At the Penn State Smeal MBA Program we look for people who will work hard, be good teammates and work towards developing principled leadership skills.

Q: How important is the GMAT score, compared to other parts of the application, when it comes to getting into Penn State MBA?

A: We look at GMAT as a part of the entire application.  It is not more or less important than another aspect of the application.

Q: In you years in admissions, what was the most memorable admissions interview you were a part of, and why was it so memorable?

A: There have been lots, but the one that stands out was with a soldier who was deployed and who was speaking to me from a field phone.  We had to pause for a moment when he said, “Please hold on we are about to bomb the bridge.”

Q: Is there any context in which you’d prefer the GRE over the GMAT in a student’s application? (i.e. based on the program the student is applying to or the strength of the rest of his/her application, e.t.c.)

A: I only represent the Penn State Smeal MBA Program, so I can’t speak to other Penn State Graduate Program preferences.  Here we prefer GMAT but will accept the GRE.  We tell students to research the tests and take the one that best matches their strengths.

Q: It’s pretty common for international students to face language and culture barriers when they’re applying to schools outside of their homeland. So do you have any tips for students outside the states who’re applying to Smeal? 

A: I strongly recommend that international candidates plan to arrive to school at least one week before any orientation begins.  Typical MBA orientations are so busy that the students don’t have time to get acclimated.  It is beneficial to arrive and get settled sooner rather than later.

Q:  What’s the number 1 reason you would turn down a Smeal applicant, and why? 

A: Our students must have excellent English language skills before they are admitted to the program.  There simply isn’t time to improve English once the MBA Program begins.  We also automatically deny anyone who is caught plagiarizing.  We run all admissions essays through Turnitin for Admissions.

Q: What’s one final piece of advice you’d like to share with every Penn State MBA applicant? 

A: We want to get to know the candidate and their true career goals as best we can.  We encourage everyone to be open and honest in their application.


Let us know in the comments below if there are any questions you’d like us to ask the Adcoms on your behalf!

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2 Responses to Admissions Tips from Penn State MBA

  1. Karina Santos October 19, 2015 at 10:37 am #

    I’m currently an MBA student at Penn State and I can tell you from experience that Penn State really cares about fit. To get a better idea of what life at smeal will be like, I recommend visiting their MBA Blogs (you’ll see my blog there too)

    Additionally, the best way to keep up with the most current news when researching the school is to follow Penn State on social media. Here’s a couple of handles you can follow to stay in the know: Twitter: @Diversity_PSU and @smealMBA and FB: Smeal Diversity Enhancement Programs

    Best of luck to you all!


    • Dani Lichliter
      Dani Lichliter October 20, 2015 at 11:04 am #

      Thanks for sharing, Karina! I’m a Penn State grad myself and really appreciate the support and advice for future Nittany Lions! 🙂
      All the best,

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