The 546 director selection process is completely talent based. Of the 12 teams of director, producer and writers that pitch, 3 are chosen to make their movies. The story is what makes these teams stand a part from the rest.
But there are a few factors that make your talents look better...
1. You took the class already
Me: I took 546 2 semesters ago as a sound person on Crushing Violet. I made good relationships in that class and did a damn good job (if I don't say so myself). I actually pitched as a producer on a project as well (we didn't get it). So I've been a part of that class in a few different roles.
By taking the class, you know the process and you know the faculty. It's like going through boot camp before getting the opportunity to be in charge.
2. You're a girl
Me: I'm a girl. No, they don't pick a girl JUST to pick a girl, but they usually want one. Everyone wants to support the next Kathryn Bigelow. Last semester, they actually didn't choose a female director. This proved that it's based on the project, not the gender of the director. But in semesters past, there's usually 1 female director among the 3 directors chosen.
3. You have a different story
Me: I pitched a super hero comedy. The semester before us (the one with all the male directors) was made up of really intense dramas. We all knew the professors wanted a comedy in the room. They needed a reason to smile!
I felt that all of these factors were working in my favor. But they were also working to help the 11 other directors competing against me. So I did not relax for a minute!
What NOT to say...
I did have one producer say something to me that I think is worth repeating.
In meeting with this gentleman, I asked "Why do you want to produce Volcano Girl with me?" His response: "Because you're a girl, and a girl usually gets through. So you'll probably win."