The 411 on Recent Updates in MBA Admissions

updates in MBA admissionsIf you plan to apply for business school next season, you’ll want to have a clear understanding of the MBA admissions landscape. We’ve seen several updates in MBA admissions over the past two years. Today, we’re taking a look at some specific questions we’ve fielded from various news outlets related to these changes.

Why are business schools changing up their MBA admissions process?

There are two main reasons driving recent updates in MBA admissions.   First, MBA programs as a whole are constantly trying to improve what they do and how they do it. Secondly, admissions professionals look to maximize the amount of evaluative data they get from their applications. Ultimately, the admissions team works to provide candidates with a positive experience through all of their interactions with the program.

There are just as many strong business schools out there as there are strong candidates. Business schools want to deeply vet candidates to find individuals who are the right fit for their program.

The admissions team looks for candidates who convey enthusiasm and genuine interest. One of the best ways to discover this is through additional application requirements. This would include video essays, and more. In fact, we’ve seen an uptick in pre-interview questions and post-interview reflections lately.

The focus of these updates in MBA admissions seems to center on more digital elements.

Digital elements such as videos allow the admissions committee to see an applicant’s presentation and interpersonal skills. This helps them determine if you are confident, and if you have any communication faults. Programs want candidates to be authentic. They also want to evaluate an applicant’s creativity as well as their ability to think on their feet.

This is also a way for them to see how candidates can handle an uncomfortable or awkward situation. They want to see how a candidate operates outside of their comfort zone.  Many people hate to hear or see themselves on a video recording!

With these updates in MBA admissions, schools continue to raise the bar on what is required for a complete application.

Why are schools using video essays?

The goal of using videos from an admissions standpoint is simply to make better decisions about which candidates are the strongest match with the program. This component demonstrates communication skills and the ability to think on one’s feet. In addition, it can help identify those applicants who, while not quite as strong on paper, may actually be the diamonds in the rough that enrich the learning experience for all.

The new format also strengthens the written essays by demonstrating the candidate’s verbal/visual communication skills. The adcom has seen what you have going for you on paper. A video interview can give them a better sense of your personality. Also, it helps them judge whether the “real you” matches the impression you’ve built through your other materials.

Interviews and other types of live and virtual presentations are playing an increasingly important role in the admissions process. You can learn more about SBC’s video interview prep package here.

What makes a winning video essay?

Aim to elicit a reaction that makes the adcom think, “We just have to meet this person!”

Here are some video-specific tips:

  • Prepare (and practice) succinct responses for all of the typical MBA-related questions: Why Program X, Why an MBA overall, Why now, What are your career goals, Summarize your career to date, and so on.

  • Then practice by adding some “fun” questions and responses into the mix: Review the last book you read/movie you saw/TV show you watched; What is your favorite song and why; Where’s the best place you’ve gone on vacation, et cetera.

  • Record yourself answering these questions. Have a trusted friend review your responses and tell you how you’re coming off. Tweak your style accordingly.

It seems the focus of some of these recent updates in MBA admissions is also on convenience.

The intention may be to move toward fewer barriers so that more candidates apply to their school. Yet, there is such a variety of required application materials for top schools that candidates applying to multiple programs still have an immense amount of work to do.

It’s vital for MBA programs to garner as much information as possible from the application process. This is why we have seen the uptick in the trend of additional essays and reflections later on in the process.

In reality, the only specific area in which we see an effort to accommodate applicants is the widespread use of the GMAC Common Letter of Recommendation. This form makes it easier for recommenders to do their part, making it less likely they will ask the candidate to write their own letters.

Changing with the times, and the technologies, can only be of benefit to everyone. No matter what the application requirements are, schools, and admissions officers, haven’t changed their philosophy. They strive to use evaluation and decision processes that are as fair and impartial as possible and to admit those applicants who are the best fit for their program and its culture.

Admissions officers look for ways to admit people – they love what they do – not for ways to exclude them. Methods of holistic review, which all top programs employ, really do offer every applicant a chance to put their best foot forward and to be judged on their merits.


Let us help you achieve your MBA dreams. Contact us for a free consultation to request time with an SBC Principal.

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