The iPad and MBA Admissions: What You Need to Know

It’s already been almost a year since we wrote about MIT Sloan’s announcement that the admissions office would move to an entirely paper-free, all-iPad system for reviewing applications. Now, more is being written about this as the company that makes the iPad app makes a publicity push and announces that the UCLA Anderson admissions team has also signed on to use the app.

The key takeaway that we wrote in January still holds: While the fact that admissions officers will read your application on an iPad is interesting, the real fuss should be about what this could mean for the future. It’s not hard to imagine video and audio responses becoming a much more common part of business school applications, as admissions officers can move from your written app to a video to something else all with the click of an icon. We think this is inevitable.

That’s in the future, though. If you’re applying this year, you’re probably wondering if this will impact you at all. The answer is mostly “no,” but this news does make us want to reiterate a piece of advice that we frequently give to our clients: Within each essay, keep references to other essays to a minimum! Sometimes, particularly when facing tight word limits, it’s tempting to write, “While working on the project I described in Essay #2…” to save words and take advantage of stories you’ve already written about elsewhere. We generally advise against this since it can be disruptive for the reader. With enough effort and careful editing, you should be able to make each essay a self-contained story about you.

This lesson matters even more now that the iPad has entered the picture. When the essay is on an iPad, it may be even harder for the reader to jump back and forth between essays. As nice as it is for application readers to not have to clear off a while desk to spread out your file, there is an advantage to having it all right there, and being able to organize everything just so. On the iPad, only one thing can be viewed at a time, meaning an MBA admissions officer can’t view your Essay 2 and Essay 3 side-by-side, and giving you one more reason to ensure that each essay stands on its own.

We’re speculating some here, since we haven’t actually seen the app. But from our own work developing the first full-fledged GMAT course for the iPad, we know that screen real estate is precious, and “jumping around” is still not as easy on a tablet as it is on paper. So, make admissions officers’ jobs easier, and don’t force them to jump around any more than they have to!

If you’re ready to start building your own application for MIT Sloan or other top MBA programs, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!