4 Predictions for 2016: Trends to Look for in the Coming Year

Can you believe another year has already gone by? It seems like just yesterday that we were taking down 2014’s holiday decorations and trying to remember to write “2015” when writing down the date. Well, 2015 is now in the books, which means it’s time for us to stick our necks out and make a few predictions for what 2016 will bring in the world of college and graduate school testing and admissions. We don’t always nail all of our predictions, and sometimes we’re way off, but that’s what makes this predictions business kind of fun, right?

Let’s see how we do this year… Here are four things that we expect to see unfold at some point in 2016:

The College Board will announce at least one significant change to the New SAT after it is introduced in March.
Yes, we know that an all-new SAT is coming. And we also know that College Board CEO David Coleman is determined to make his mark and launch a new test that is much more closely aligned with the Common Core standards that Coleman himself helped develop before stepping into the CEO role at the College Board. (The changes also happen to make the New SAT much more similar to the ACT, but we digress.) The College Board’s excitement to introduce a radically redesigned test, though, may very well lead to some changes that need some tweaking after the first several times the new test is administered. We don’t know exactly what the changes will be, but the new test’s use of “Founding Documents” as a source of reading passages is one spot where we won’t be shocked to see tweaks later in 2016.

At least one major business school rankings publication will start to collect GRE scores from MBA programs.
While the GRE is still a long way from catching up to the GMAT as the most commonly submitted test score by MBA applicants, it is gaining ground. In fact, 29 of Bloomberg Businessweek‘s top 30 U.S. business schools now let applicants submit a score from either exam. Right now, no publication includes GRE score data in its ranking criteria, which creates a small but meaningful implication: if you’re not a strong standardized test taker, then submitting a GRE score may mean that an admissions committee will be more willing to take a chance and admit you (assuming the rest of your application is strong), since it won’t have to report your test score and risk lowering its average GMAT score.

Of course, when a school admits hundreds of applicants, the impact of your one single score is very small, but no admissions director wants to have to explain to his or her boss why the school admitted someone with a 640 GMAT score while all other schools’ average scores keep going up. Knowing this incentive is in place, it’s only a matter of time before Businessweek, U.S. News, or someone else starts collecting GRE scores from business schools for their rankings data.

An expansion of student loan forgiveness is coming.
It’s an election year, and not many issues have a bigger financial impact on young voters than student loan debt. The average Class of 2015 college grad was left school owing more than $35,000 in student loans, meaning that these young grads may have to work until the age of 75 until they can reasonably expect to retire. Already this year the government announced the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) Plan, which lets borrowers cap their monthly loan payments at 10% of their monthly discretionary income. One possible way the program could expand is by loosening the standards of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. Right now a borrower needs to make on-time monthly payments for 10 straight years to be eligible; don’t be surprised if someone proposes shortening it to five or eight years.

The number of business schools using video responses in their applications will triple.
Several prominent business schools such as Kellogg, Yale SOM, and U. of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management (which pioneered the practice) have started using video “essays” in their application process. While the rollout hasn’t been perfectly smooth, and many applicants have told us that video responses make the process even more stressful, we think video is’t going away anytime soon. In fact, we think that closer to 10 schools will use video as part of the application process by this time next year.

If a super-elite MBA program such as Stanford GSB or Harvard Business School starts video responses, then you will probably see a full-blown stampede towards video. But, even without one of those names adopting it, we think the medium’s popularity will climb significantly in the coming year. It’s just such a time saver for admissions officers – one can glean a lot about someone with just a few minutes of video – that this trend will only accelerate in 2016.

Let’s check back in 12 months and see how we did. In the meantime, we wish you a happy, healthy, and successful 2016!

By Scott Shrum

Fit vs. Ranking: Choosing the Right Business School for You

Round 1 vs. Round 2One of the hardest aspects of selecting which MBA programs to apply to is reconciling how well you fit with a program with how highly ranked that same program is. Many students will initially gravitate towards rankings as their default target school list. Many applicant school lists will be left littered with the historic elite of graduate business education, with programs like Harvard, Stanford, and Kellogg consistently making appearances for unqualified applicants.

These schools top the rankings year in and year out and they do so for a reason: they are very difficult to gain admission to, with some acceptance rates in the single digits, making admission to these programs a rarity for the greater majority.

For those applicants who create their list based off of “fit”, they tend to have a bit more success in the application process. Now “fit” is not always as straightforward a concept as one might imagine when framed in the context of business school admissions. “Fit” should account for geographic, academic, professional, social, and school specific admissions criteria.

By utilizing fit, applicants can make sure that if admitted, the program properly addresses their development goals. However, adhering to the “fit” criteria above can be more difficult than it seems. Often candidates are not always completely honest when it comes to assessing where their profile may stand in comparison to the competition, so make sure to be as honest as possible with your own personal assessment.

The best approach is really to take both “fit” and the rankings into consideration to create your target school list. Identify the programs that fit your criteria both quantitatively and qualitatively as an initial step, and then leverage various external rankings to tier your potential programs. Overall, creating your target school list is an inexact science that requires a bit more of a personal touch than simply following an arbitrary list created by media publications.

Utilize the guidance above to more effectively shape your target school list to ensure you optimize your chances of admissions success.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here.

Financial Times Business School Rankings for 2009

The Financial Times has just released its 2009 business school rankings, with Wharton and London Business School sharing the top spot.

There were a couple of notable milestones in this year’s FT rankings. LBS reached the #1 slot for the first time, breaking Wharton and Harvard Business School’s joint stranglehold on the #1 slot. Also notable was that for the first time an Asian business school cracked the top ten — Shanghai-based China European International Business School (CEIBS) came in at #8. Joining CEIBS in the top twenty were two other schools from Asia: The Indian School of Business ranked at #15, and the Hong Kong UST Business School was ranked #16.

You can see the full Financial Times rankings here. To learn what it takes to get into the world’s top business schools, visit Veritas Prep’s MBA Application Resources page. Also, for more updates on school rankings, be sure to follow Veritas Prep on Twitter.

BusinessWeek MBA Rankings for 2008

This just in! In an online chat, BusinessWeek has just revealed its 2008 business school rankings. Without further ado, here are the top 25 U.S. MBA programs for 2008:

1. Chicago (Booth)
2. Harvard Business School
3. Northwestern (Kellogg)
4. Penn (Wharton)
5. Michigan (Ross)
6. Stanford
7. Columbia
8. Duke (Fuqua)
9. MIT (Sloan)
10. UC Berkeley (Haas)
11. Cornell (Johnson)
12. Dartmouth (Tuck)
13. NYU (Stern)
14. UCLA (Anderson)
15. Indiana (Kelley)
16. Virginia (Darden)
17. UNC (Kenan-Flagler)
18. Southern Methodist (Cox)
19. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)
20. Notre Dame(Mendoza)
21. UT Austin (McCombs)
22. BYU (Marriott)
23. Emory (Goizueta)
24. Yale
25. USC (Marshall)

And here are the top ten MBA programs outside of the United States:

1. Queen’s School of Business
2. IE Business School
3. INSEAD
4. Western Ontario (Ivey)
5. London Business School
6. ESADE
7. IMD
8. Toronto (Rotman)
9. IESE
10. Oxford (Said)

U.S. News and BusinessWeek vie for the title of most closely watched business schools rankings. While it’s debatable as to whether the BusinessWeek MBA ranking system or the U.S. News ranking system is more valid, the fact that BW’s rankings only come out every two years always makes this announcement a little extra exciting. To its credit, BusinessWeek does a good job of building up the drama with its online chat format for announcing their business school rankings.

For more help with the business school application process, take a look at Veritas Prep’s MBA admissions consulting services. Also, for more updates on school rankings, be sure to follow Veritas Prep on Twitter.

Veritas Prep Featured in Inside Higher Ed

Inside Higher Ed, one of the leading voices on matters related to the higher education space, recently turned to Veritas Prep for insights on the competition among business schools in trying to outshine one another in the rankings. Chad Troutwine and I recently were in Washington, D.C., and we had a chance to sit down with Inside Higher Ed‘s Jack Stripling to discuss trends affecting the world’s top MBA programs.

Stripling’s article (“A Farewell to Arms Races?”) investigates what drives schools to roll out new academic programs, enhance their facilities, or make other significant changes. While there seemed to be a more blatant trend of schools “keeping up with the Joneses” in the 80’s and 90’s, many top schools seem to have taken a step back and are now making more deliberate changes that are in line with their core missions.

But the buzzwords of the day (be it ethics a few years ago or global business today) still seem to drive some of today’s changes at top MBA programs, which is what Chad and I discussed with Jack.

Take a look… Inside Higher Ed is a great way to stay on top of these trends if you’re considering applying to any graduate program.

Parents, Don’t Let Your Kids Grow Up To Be … Parents

In two months, my wife will be giving birth to our first child. Becoming a parent has always been a scary proposition, but never more so than now. You see, in the world of admissions, I’ve now become the enemy.

At least, it seems that way if you take your cue from this recent feature from The New Yorker Magazine about the Internet scandals that have rocked the august New York (Riverdale) prep school Horace Mann. I’ve been to Horace Mann and have marveled at the cutting edge facilities wrapped up in an old world campus. I’ve noted the success rates of their students in applying to top universities. Granted, I was only there one day, but it seemed like a pretty great place to learn and prepare for life.

After reading the feature about Facebook scandals and parental bullying of the school’s educators, I’m not so sure. It seems like teaching (and therefore learning) in the face of a tyrannical parent board is next to impossible. And I’m quite sure this sort of thing is happening at other elite prep schools. I received a first-hand look at parental pressure during my time in undergraduate admission and imagine that that the dial has only been cranked in one direction in the interim. How can students be expected to learn when their lives are scripted, when they bear no responsibility, and when there are no consequences for their actions? We laugh at shows like Gossip Girl for being so ridiculous, but reality might be even more ridiculous.

The worst part is that the cycle will only continue as today’s teenagers reap the rewards from their parents’ insidious behavior and then – having sufficiently learned by example – set off on a path to repeat it.

Fortunately, this sort of boorish pay-your-way-out-of-anything approach to parenting and education does not extend to every pocket of affluence in our country. I’ve enjoyed observing those parents who have fourth grade students in my wife’s class at a private school in Pacific Palisades. In nearly unanimous fashion, this group supports the school and its educators, has expectations for their children’s behavior, and maintains proper perspective. Even more promising, I’ve seen many of these parents adopt the same approach with older children – kids who are gearing up for the competitive process of private high school admissions and then, of course, for college. It’s a great relief to find that there are still some families – some parents – who recognize value in true education.

Hopefully I can identify a few more of those to look up to – and fast. After all, I’ve only got two months left.

Surviving the Rankings Game

The U.S. News & World Report grad school rankings for 2009 came out a few weeks ago and revealed some interesting developments. (By the way, what is with the “2009” rankings coming out in April of 2008? Have academic rankings gone the way of automotive companies?).

For me, the most interesting development of all could be found in the Law School Rankings, where the 5-10 spots continue to undergo a major transformation.

First, a quick note to say that I am a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, which helps explain my attention to this sort of detail and my concern over some recent trends that pretty much boil down to two things:

1. Chicago does not care about rankings

2. Everyone else does.

These two trends have, obviously, led to significant changes at the top of most ranking systems, with U.S. News being no exception. While Chicago has continued to keep the ranking process at an arm’s length, other programs have embraced it, even staffing positions that deal exclusively with ranking services. Not only that, but many law schools have made strategic decisions to boost their profiles by pouring scholarship dollars into securing the best GPA/LSAT yields they can muster.

The combination is an effective one indeed. Schools are influencing public (and private) opinion in order to score higher in the subjective areas, while increasing their academic profile in order to score higher in the more quantitative ranking components.

Meanwhile Chicago is going the other direction. The administration has taken an “anti-rankings” stance that is both admirable (in that they refuse to game the system) and destructive (in that it is hurting the school). The problem with refusing to engage in the rankings world is that everyone else cares about this. Employers, investors, voters, and pretty much any other “er” is going to put some stock in rankings like U.S. News, which means that students will care about it. They have to, because it is their future on the line. Students can’t afford to rest on their laurels or sleep easy knowing how great the faculty is. They have to think about the rate of return on their educational investment. And if that return isn’t as promising at Chicago as it is at Columbia, then the student is going to Columbia. Period.

As recently as this decade, Chicago was ranked third in the country among all law schools by U.S. News. When I was admitted for the fall of 2004, the school was fourth (Stanford had moved up), just ahead of Columbia and NYU. By the time I reached my 3L year, the New York schools had moved ahead and dropped U of C to sixth. Last year, Penn moved into a tie for sixth.

Now, Berkeley has vaulted into the #6 spot, leaving Chicago in a tie for seventh with Penn.

No matter how you feel about academic rankings in general, or U.S. News specifically, going from third to tied for seventh in under 10 years is a pretty terrible.

Even worse, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. As the school slides in the rankings, it starts to lose out on the top students. Then, the quality of each class starts to drop. Before long, the school is sliding down the charts, not because of an aversion to “The Rankings Game,” but because they simply don’t have the same caliber of students.

And that’s what I fear for Chicago. It is a school with a lot of great qualities and a very pure approach to academia. But it is also a law school with a crappy old building, an increasingly archaic approach to education (one of the last schools to cling to the Socratic Method, one of the first to turn off wireless Internet in the classrooms), and a stodgy campus setting. If the University of Chicago starts to lose its level of prestige – which is derived largely from rankings – then what is left to keep the best and brightest from going elsewhere?

[- Read the rest here -]

March Madness B-School Rankings

Brian recently posted up a nice article comparing the NCAA Tournament Season to the MBA application season, with some very sound advice. I, however, am going to take the onset of March Madness in another direction.

Everybody loves to look at school rankings. It’s how we determine the top business schools in the country. Every ranking uses its own criteria to determine the best schools, and these criteria can be quite complicated. But today, I offer you a much simpler ranking. These are the Top 25 business schools, based on their current AP Men’s Basketball Ranking. I tried to add the actual name of each business school in parentheses, but as many of these schools rarely grace the upper echelons of other, more “traditional” business school rankings, I couldn’t find them all. Also, some just don’t have them.

NCAA’s Top 25 Business Schools

1. North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)
2. Memphis (Fogelman)
3. UCLA (Anderson)
4. Tennessee
5. Kansas
6. Texas (McCombs)
7. Duke (Fuqua)
8. Wisconsin
9. Georgetown (McDonough)
10. Xavier
11. Stanford
12. Butler
13. Louisville
14. Notre Dame (Mendoza)
15. Connecticut
16. Drake
17. Purdue (Krannert)
18. Vanderbilt
19. Michigan St. (Broad)
20. Gonzaga
21. Washington St.
22. Indiana (Kelley)
23. Davidson
24. BYU (Marriott)
25. Marquette

Should you decide to use my rankings in your search for a business school*, I do hope they prove useful. And if not, consider yourself well-informed for the start of the NCAA Tournament, which is rapidly approaching.

*Please note that while college basketball is extremely exciting, most experts would probably agree that you shouldn’t base your decision to attend a given MBA program on the success of the school’s basketball team.

Financial Times 2008 Rankings

Financial Times released its newest business school rankings the other day. While Wharton remains at the top, this year did have some big changes (such as Dartmouth & Yale dropping 6 places each, and MIT jumping 7 places). The Indian School of Business and Hong Kong UST Business School are newcomers to this year’s Top 20, and we bid a farewell this year to UCLA: Anderson, Northwestern University: Kellogg, and University of Michigan: Ross.

Financial Times Top 20 Business Schools
1. University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
2. London Business School
3. Columbia Business School
4. Stanford University GSB
5. Harvard Business School
6. INSEAD
7. MIT: Sloan
8. IE Business School
9. University of Chicago GSB
10. University of Cambridge: Judge
11. Ceibs (China)
11. IESE Business School
13. New York University: Stern
14. IMD
15. Dartmouth College: Tuck
16. Yale School of Management
17. Hong Kong UST Business School
18. HEC Paris
19. University of Oxford: Said
20. Indian School of Business

Also check out: Last Year’s Top Schools

Source: Financial Times 2008 Business School Rankings

Economist Top 20 Business Schools

The Economist Business School rankings for 2007 have been released. The Economist rankings are determined by a combination of four factors: recent alumni, increase in salary/networking potential, new career opportunities, and personal development/educational opportunities. What’s really cool though is that they have an interactive list on their site (link below), which allows you to sort the schools by various categories and/or regions.

For example, which American school will provide you with the highest final salary? A quick selection from the drop-down menu will provide you with the result (it’s Stanford, for those interested).

Economist Top 20 Business Schools

1. University of Chicago
2. Stanford
3. IESE Business School
4. Dartmouth (Tuck)
5. IMD
6. Berkeley (Haas)
7. University of Cambridge (Judge)
8. NYU (Stern)
9. IE Business School
10. Henley Management College
11. Cranfield School of Management
12. University of Michigan (Ross)
13. Harvard Business School
14. Northwestern (Kellogg)
15. London Business School
16. MIT (Sloan)
17. INSEAD
18. Columbia Business School
19. Ashridge
20. Hong Kong University: School of Business and Management

Note: For some reason, UCLA: Anderson was not included in the rankings at all. There were other schools not included, but since Anderson is a consistent Top 20, I feel it’s worth mentioning.

Source: Economist Rankings

2007 Wall Street Journal Rankings

The Wall Street Journal released their business school rankings last night. The WSJ rankings are always interesting, because they are solely the result of recruiters’ opinions. Nevertheless, people like to see how schools rank, so here you go! I’ve listed only the top North American “National” schools, as these are the schools you are likely to see in the other rankings.

Top National Schools (North America)

1. Dartmouth College (Tuck)
2. Berkeley (Haas)
3. Columbia
4. MIT (Sloan)
5. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)
6. UNC, Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler)
7. Michigan (Ross)
8. Yale
9. University of Chicago
10. University of Virginia (Darden)
11. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
12. Northwestern (Kellogg)
13. Duke (Fuqua)
14. Harvard Business School
15. UCLA (Anderson)
16. Cornell (Johnson)
17. NYU (Stern)
18. University of Southern California (Marshall)
19. Stanford

Source: 2007 WSJ Rankings

US News 2008 Rankings

US News just released its business school rankings for next year, with little change from last year. Within the Top 20, there was some movement (most notably UCLA’s drop from 10 to 16), but there’s nothing absolutely unexpected in the list. It should be noted that because of the data used to compute these rankings, drastic changes aren’t extremely common. This does, however, attest to the consistency of school’s on the list.

US News Top 20

1. Harvard
2. Stanford
3. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
4. MIT (Sloan)
5. Northwestern University (Kellogg)
5. University of Chicago
7. Dartmouth (Tuck)
8. Berkeley (Haas)
9. Columbia University
10. NYU (Stern)
11. Michigan (Ross)
12. Duke (Fuqua)
12. University of Virginia (Darden)
14. Cornell (Johnson)
14. Yale
16. UCLA (Anderson)
17. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)
18. UNC, Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler)
18. University of Texas (McCombs)
20. Emory University (Goizueta)

Check out the rest of the list here.

Financial Times Rankings

Financial Times has released their 2007 Global MBA Rankings; based primarily on alumni successes, intellectual capital held by the program, and the international focus of the program. It’s interesting to see the different criteria used to judge international programs versus US business schools.

1. University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
2. Columbia Business School
3. Harvard Business School
3. Stanford University GSB
5. London Business School
6. University of Chicago GSB
7. INSEAD
8. New York University: Stern
9. Dartmouth College: Tuck
10. Yale School of Management
11. Ceibs (China)
11. Instituto de Empresa
13. IMD
14. MIT: Sloan
15. University of Cambridge: Judge
16. IESE Business School
17. UCLA: Anderson
18. HEC Paris
19. Northwestern University: Kellogg
19. University of Michigan: Ross
19. University of Oxford: Said

New Survey Provides Different Ways to Rank Schools

Traditionally, business school rankings hold a lot of clout, and schools push to be at the top of these lists. But for applicants, it can be hard to figure out truly what the differences are between the #1 and #2 schools. However, a new Princeton Review survey aims to help with this, by ranking schools in various categories. So while Harvard sits atop the “toughest to get into” list, it only hits #10 on the “best overall academic experience” list.

By looking at how the schools stack up category by category, prospective students can theoretically gain a better understanding than just looking at overall rankings.

You can read more about this survey here: A guide through the business school maze

Correlations

There was an interesting study done on the Top 100 MBA programs (according to Financial Times’ rankings), that looked at the academic research records of the deans. And it found an interesting, though perhaps not ridiculously unbelievable, correlation: the more academically prominent a dean, the higher the school’s ranking! It’s pretty interesting, though something that seems to make sense when you think about it. Still, the article is worth the read.