How the MBA Application Process Must Change

November 3, 2011 · Leave a Comment 

Alex Fleming, business writer for Bloomberg Newsweek, describes how admissions to business schools is only getting more and more difficult as competition for the best schools is sky-rocketing. In fact, although enrollment in down in many MBA programs, applications are actually increasing. As a result, admissions now must choose between even higher skilled applicants; and the tipping point for acceptance is no longer between a bad and good application – but between a good application and a phenomenal one. Making the choice between such great candidates is weighing on business school admissions, and they need to rise to the challenge.

Thus, old standards of application are becoming outdated and cannot accurately predict how well an applicant will perform in college. Policy changes thus should be taken – or even that changes in the process are even inevitable – for fear of becoming outdated amongst a changing business school applicant demographic.

How Business School Admissions Should Change

Fleming suggests a few routes policy changing should take.

First, reduce the essay requirements. It is sad to say that applicants are constantly trying to cheat the game and short-cut their way into school despite serious ethical issues. Schools should always be finding ways to limit these practices. One way is to shorten large written sections such as essay sections and sections similar to them. This way, students will not have so many chances to sneakily dazzle the admissions officer – with ghost-written essays, or writing that has been unfairly edited and written.

Second, schools should up their efforts to include a personality evaluation into the application process. The entire process is looking for what type of person will do best in business school, after all, and it is already common knowledge that outgoing, type-A, goal-oriented, success-driven students are more likely going where they want to go and know how to get there. By doing data collection on a student over a reasonably long amount of time, admissions is basically guaranteed to find the types of students that are the most likely to emerge leaders in the classroom – and the business world.

Third, which is useful in conjunction with the former suggestion, is to do “stealth” interviewing. Evaluate the student when they are not looking – and you’ll likely get more honest results. Of course a student in an official interview is going to put on their best qualities. However, outside the spotlight they might put on display major characteristics that will be detrimental to their success in school.

Changing the admissions process will not only help schools find the best students possible, but it will also find students that are truly most suited to the school and who will not find themselves in over their heads come the rigorous education in the MBA program. It benefits everyone – but admission policies need to change first.

Read Fleming’s piece on it here.

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