Veritas Prep Admissions Survey Cited in Hispanic Outlook for Higher Education

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.

You can read more about Veritas Prep’s first annual admissions officer study here. To learn more about Veritas Prep, take a look at our MBA admissions consulting offerings.

Our First Annual MBA Admissions Officer Survey Results

Last week we released the results of Veritas Prep’s first annual survey of MBA admissions officers, to uncover what’s happening in the field today and to help business school applicants anticipate future trends.

We enlisted the help of an independent third party to survey admissions officers at the top 30 business schools in the U.S. (as defined by BusinessWeek’s ranking system). The survey ran in October and November, and covered more than half of the admissions officers at these MBA programs.

Some findings were surprising, while others confirmed what we have been telling our clients for years. Among the most interesting results:

  • The biggest challenges institutions face are attracting more, better-qualified candidates, and supporting cultural diversity in their student bodies. Among desired changes that admissions officers would like to see in their applicant pool, diversity ranks first (87%), while 57 percent of respondents would like to see a larger applicant pool at their institutions.
  • The number of international applicants to leading U.S. business schools has increased over the past five years. Ninety-four percent of responding admissions officers report a moderate to significant increase in international applicants during the last five admissions cycles.
  • The number of admits straight out of undergraduate studies is on the rise. Despite the fact that 63 percent of respondents say professional experience is the most important factor in student selection, almost half (47%) report that the number of admits straight out of college has significantly or moderately increased compared to five years ago.
  • Careless errors ranked as the top faux pas committed by students during the application process. Inconsistency between institutional choice and students’ educational objectives and ambitions ranked second, and the inclusion of unrequested items and inappropriate interview conduct tie for the third most commonly witnessed application blunder.
  • Admissions officers view students that enlist the assistance of admissions consultants neutrally. While seven percent of respondents said that they view applicants who use admissions consultants positively, 80 percent view such students neutrally. In general, most admissions officers feel that admissions consultants help students identify the programs with which they fit best and clarify their career goals.
  • Admissions officers anticipate changes in the student application process in coming years. Most respondents believe the student application process will include more face-to-face or telephone interviews in the next five years (60%). While over half of admissions officers foresee the application process becoming less complex (53%), another forty percent predict the application process will become increasingly intricate in the coming years.

We especially found the learnings around diversity and the trend toward younger applicants to be most interesting. And while we were glad to see that nearly all MBA admissions officers view applicants who use admissions consultants neutrally or positively, we will continue to work to ensure that our clients get a great deal of value from their relationship with us — but only in a 100% ethical way. As always, we will never write our applicants’ essays or tell them what to say.

Visit Veritas Prep to learn more about how we can help you in the MBA admissions process.

Yale SOM Applications Rise 4% in Round One

Take Yale Daily news reported on Thursday that Round One applications to Yale SOM increased by 4% vs. Round One last year.

According to Yale SOM Director of Admissions Bruce DelMonico, the school received 928 applications by its October deadline, compared to 894 received in October, 2007. That puts Yale on pace to pace to receive more than 3,000 applications in the 2008-2009 MBA admissions season.

On top of the growing numbers, DelMonino also reports that the admissions office is “seeing not only greater numbers, but also greater quality.” As one indicator of this quality, the average GMAT score of Yale’s Round One applicants was 698, two points higher than last year’s average.

Yale SOM’s Round 1 pool also included 78 applicants from The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, reflecting the results of a push by the school to attarct more minority candidates. And while Yale has actually been shrinking its class size recently, the school has publicly stated that it may take on a few more students to increase tuition revenues to offset declining returns from Yale’s endowment. DelMonico expects next year’s class to have up to 200 students, up from 193 students this year.

For more information on applying to Yale, visit the Veritas Prep Yale SOM information page. And if you’re working Yale essays now, see Veritas Prep’s sample MBA essays.