The April 6 issue of Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education included an in-depth look at Veritas Prep’s first annual admissions officer survey. In the article, reporter A. Francesca Jenkins dug into the results and interviewed Veritas Prep’s Scott Shrum about the implications of the study.
As Jenkins notes, the biggest challenges facing business school admissions officers are the need to attract more, better-qualified students, and the need to support cultural diversity on campus. We expect both of these needs to remain top priorities for admissions officers in the coming years.
Another survey finding that the article focuses on is the fact that MBA admissions officers were almost evenly split on whether the admissions process will become more or less complicated over time. This reflects the challenges that admissions officers face in managing an ever-growing pool of applicants, while also dealing with an increasingly competitive applicant pool. The former pushes the admissions process in the direction of more simplicity — the more streamlined the process is, the easier it theoretically is to sort through applications — while the latter pushes the process in the direction of more complication — as applicants become savvier and savvier, admissions officers need more creative ways to separate the great applicants from the merely good ones.
One outgrowth of this trend has been that some top business schools, such as Chicago Booth and UCLA Anderson, have begun to get more creative with their essay questions. Essay questions in the format of PowerPoint presentations (in Booth’s case) and audio answers (for Anderson) are likely to become more common over time.
We believe that whether a school keeps or drops an essay question is a terrific indicator of how well that question works for them — and by “works” we mean how well it helps admissions officers tell one applicant from the next. The fact that some school have moved away from the traditional essay questions suggests that those questions have lost some of their effectiveness, as applicants have perhaps become savvier about answering them well.
If you’re an applicant are are faced with answering a PowerPoint or audio question, the same rules still apply: Make sure that your real voice comes through, be sure to answer the question asked, and by all means, make sure that your answer is consistent with the overall themes you’ve built into your business school application.