New Johnson Initiative Introduces Cornell Undergrads to MBA Program

New Program Introduces Undergrads to Johnson

by Sherrie Negrea

New Johnson Initiative Introduces Cornell Undergrads to MBA Programinline-block

Jessica Lowery, MBA ’17, was working as a director in the investment banking group at Cushman & Wakefield in Manhattan two years ago when she decided to apply to business school. Although she had been out of college for a decade, she needed to start studying again — for the GRE.

"It was actually hard to get back into test-taking mode," Lowery said. "I worked pretty late hours, and it was hard to dedicate time to study for it."

Bridge Event

While her dedication paid off and she was accepted to the Johnson School, Lowery wants other students considering an MBA to benefit from her experience. So this semester, she and her classmate, Mehrdad Moghaddam, ’MBA 17, launched a program called the Johnson Admissions Bridge to introduce undergraduates at Cornell to the Johnson School and its admissions process.

The program, which is targeted toward women and underrepresented minorities, held its kickoff event on Nov. 16 at Sage Hall and attracted a standing-room-only crowd of nearly 100 Cornell undergraduates. For two hours, the students heard panels of current MBA students as well as Johnson administrators speak about the benefits of a business school degree and offer advice on mapping out a strategy to apply to Johnson.

"This is really to develop a pipeline of underrepresented minorities and female undergraduates from the Cornell community for the MBA at Johnson," Moghaddam said. "We feel that having diversity always makes the program more meaningful from the standpoint of just being exposed to different viewpoints and perspectives."

The percentage of women and underrepresented minorities in the entering MBA class at Johnson grew by 5 percent this year, said Judi Byers, executive director of admissions and financial aid at Johnson. Women comprise 31 percent and underrepresented minorities make up 15 percent of the class of 2018.

To encourage more Cornell undergraduates to apply to Johnson, the MBAs gave the students a clear message: take the GMAT or GRE either before graduating from Cornell or the following summer, while their coursework is fresh in their minds and their test-taking skills are at peak level.

"Being an undergraduate in an academic setting, you're used to taking tests," said Stephanie Chow, MBA ’18, one of the panelists who began studying for the GMAT in her sophomore because she was applying to Cornell's five-year MBA program. She advised the students at the kickoff event to "get into the mindset" of the GMAT by practicing the sample tests online.

As part of Johnson Admissions Bridge program, Lowery and Moghaddam plan to offer a boot camp for undergraduates this spring that will offer test-taking strategies for taking the GMAT. Working with the Johnson Admissions Office, they are also planning to offer up to ten free vouchers to Cornell underrepresented minorities and women undergraduates as an incentive to take the test.

Lowery thought of the idea for the Johnson Admissions Bridge program after meeting a woman last summer who had her MBA and had encouraged her children to take the GMAT before they graduated from college. At Johnson, she proposed the idea for her service leadership project as part of the Roy H. Park Fellowship, a leadership development program that grants full-tuition awards up to 25 MBAs each year.

After Lowery and Moghaddam, who are both Park Fellows, graduate next spring, the Johnson Admissions Bridge will continue as a program sponsored by the Johnson Admissions Office.

"I'm really looking forward to building on the successful launch of the Johnson Admissions Bridge and expect that it will help us stay connected with the exceptional undergraduate talent at Cornell," Byers said. "An MBA offers great opportunity and having the chance to engage with undergraduates about the steps that can be taken while at Cornell and once they graduate will hopefully give them the insights to successfully navigate and stand out in the MBA admissions process."


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