What’s New in MBA Admissions? – Part Two

Many aspects of the admissions process remain exactly the same today as they were back in 1996 when The MBA Exchange began advising applicants. However, we have observed several noteworthy changes impacting individuals and business schools, such as the following:

1. International applicants, especially from India, show great interest in U.S. schools.

Due in great part to a soft economy, the number of applications submitted by U.S. candidates has flattened — and even decreased — for many full-time MBA programs. However, huge numbers of international applicants continue to pursue admission to top business schools. India continues to be at the top of list. Many Indian applicants can offer rigorous professional experience, high test scores and prior admission success at selective Indian universities where the 2% acceptance rate is far lower than that of even Stanford GSB (~8%). Drawn by prestige and lifetime earning power that is almost beyond the comprehension of family and friends, determined applicants from outside the U.S. could easily fill the MBA classroom if admission was based solely on academics and determination.

2. Specialized, shorter MBA programs emerge and appeal to many.

While neither Harvard nor Stanford have strayed from their traditional 2-year MBA curriculum by offering shorter, degree-granting alternatives, other business schools are doing so with success. A prime example is Northwestern University’s Kellogg School with its 1-Year Full-time and Accelerated Part-time MBAs. Offering students the same courses, faculty, alumni network and brand that their traditional 2-year MBA peers enjoy, these fast-track options allow their students to reduce the foregone income and opportunity cost of their graduate education.

3. Online profile and background verification now standard practice.

It used to be that once an applicant accepted an offer of admission, it was only a matter of time until he or she matriculated. Schools assumed that the claims made by the candidate were bona fide. However, enough instances of misrepresentation, exaggeration and even fraud emerged that admissions professionals found it necessary to bolster their due diligence. On the front end, many business schools now do online searches of an applicant’s social media profile to confirm claims made in the applications and to uncover past instances of bad behavior or poor decisions that raise doubts about the admitted applicant’s character. On the back end, after offering admission to an individual, many schools now engage the services of background verification firms such as Kroll and ReVera to pose questions about inconsistencies or disconnects in the application. If the applicant is unable to convince the investigator that all is above board, the school retains the option of withdrawing admission. So, needless to say, applicants now double and triple check their applications to avoid even honest errors or oversights that could have a catastrophic impact on their future.

While these and other changes to the admissions process make life more difficult for many of today’s applicants, the value of a top MBA education remains compelling. Therefore, the benefit of having the personalized guidance and support of an experienced, dedicated admissions consultant like The MBA Exchange has never been stronger.

To go to the first in this 2-part blog series, click here.