MBA Applicants Have Great Expectations

The 2018 MBA Applicant Survey, released this week by the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC), confirms the great expectations candidates bring to the business school admissions process.

On one hand, they continue to expect a lot from business schools:

  • They are eager for status updates throughout the application process – “The application process is stressful enough already.”
  • They seek greater transparency around waitlist decisions – “I feel like they have forgotten about me.”
  • They desire feedback following an unsuccessful application – “I just want to know if I came close, or if I shouldn’t bother applying again.”

Likewise, candidates also have high expectations of admissions consultants:

  • A consultant is often a candidate’s first source of information and plays a role in setting expectations for the admissions process.
  • Candidates value consultant advice on preparing the best application.
  • They look to consultants to gain a sense of satisfaction and achievement.

The annual AIGAC survey elicited nearly 2,000 responses from applicants applying to more than two dozen top business schools. The results were announced at the AIGAC  annual conference, which took place last week at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

It’s apparent that candidate expectations continue to be shaped by many sources, beginning online. More than 80% of surveyed applicants turn to school websites for information. They are the most valuable school-related resources, followed by online information sessions, current student referrals and alumni referrals.

The admissions officer/director/team rounds out the top five most valuable school-specific resources. LinkedIn is the most cited social media channel for candidates, followed by YouTube and Facebook. Of particular interest, Quora is more popular than Instagram or Twitter.

The most valuable independent resources for applicants are online communities/forums, followed by MBA rankings and family/friends/work colleagues. Admissions consultants and their websites/blogs are also included in the top five.

The seven schools ranked highest in getting to know applicants well include, in order:

  1. Cornell Johnson School of Management
  2. University of Virginia Darden School of Business
  3. Dartmouth Tuck School of Business
  4. CMU Tepper School of Business
  5. Emory Goizueta Business School
  6. Duke Fuqua School of Business
  7. Michigan Ross School of Business

Over 50 admissions consultants from more than a dozen countries, as well as admissions directors and deans from leading business schools around the world, attended this year’s conference.

Participating schools include Haas School of Business, Harvard Business School, MIT Sloan School of Management, Columbia Business School, Booth School of Business , Ross School of Business, UT McCombs School of Business, Yale School of Management, London Business School, and many other top-ranked MBA programs in the United States and around the world.

As noted above, nearly 2,000 applicants completed the survey, which includes 1,377 respondents who applied to at least one school. The majority are male (62%) and 42% live in the U.S.

There’s tons of interesting information in this year’s survey, so follow the link above to learn more about the mindsets of your fellow MBA applicants.

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