Our 2011 Predictions: How'd We Do?

Happy New Year! Hard to believe a whole year has already gone by again. At this time last year we laid out six predictions for 2011. We exhibited restraint by avoiding predictions about flying cars and holographic teachers, but we did stick out our collective neck on a few matters. Now it’s time to see how we did.

More Schools Will Adopt Video and Other Less Traditional “Essay” Questions
We were at least partly correct here. While at least one school actually backed away from utilizing video response (UCLA Anderson, we’re looking in your direction), other programs embraced Twitter and experimented with ultra-short essay responses. In other cases, schools made iPads an official part of the application review process, paving the way to allowing them to view multimedia responses in coming years. We expect this trend will only continue in the coming year.

Business Schools Will Place Even More Emphasis on Compelling, Plausible Career Visions
While there are few tangible signs of this (e.g., press releases from schools and so on), this has been true. Particularly given continued softness in the economy, schools have been less forgiving of murky career goals. Asking admissions officers to take a chance on you when you’re a career switcher with fuzzy short-term and long-term goals is tough, and this will likely continue to be the case.

At Least One Other Top-Ranked MBA Program Will Follow Wharton’s Lead in Ongoing Alumni Education
It was only a matter of weeks after we wrote this that Haas announced an ongoing education program for its alumni. While Haas’s move was less aggressive than Wharton’s, it will still a notable step in the direction of top MBA programs support their alumni well beyond graduation.

The GMAT Will Continue Its Evolution into a Predominantly Problem-Solving/Critical-Thinking Test
When we wrote this prediction, GMAC has already announced the new Integrated Reasoning section, so the cat was already out of the bag. However, now that we have had a chance to dig into some sample Integrated Reasoning problems, we’re more convinced than ever that the GMAT is a test of your higher-order thinking skills, and will continue to evolve in this direction in the coming years. Although this is only tangentially related to our prediction, GMAC inadvertently caused a minor stir last fall when Dr. Larry Rudner casually mentioned at the New York GMAT Summit that idioms aren’t really tested on the GMAT anymore. Click through that link to get the whole story, but rest assured knowing that GMAC will continue to move away from seeing how well you can memorize content, and will move toward making sure you have the higher-order thinking skills that employers look for in MBA grads.

The GMAT Will Continue to Be the Dominant Test Among Business School Applicants
Anecdotally, we learned from half a dozen schools this past year that the percentage of applicants who submit GRE scores is still in the single digits. We do expect that this percentage will keep growing, but we’re talking about growing to be maybe 15% – 20% of all applications submitted to top business schools. It will be interesting to see if ETS can prove us wrong with its new GRE, launched a few months ago.

Graduate School Rankings Transparency Will Improve
This is probably the prediction that we missed the most. We simply didn’t see as much movement in this area as we had hoped. By the end of 2010 there was a good deal of chatter that publications such as U.S. News would have to change the way they managed their rankings, but that conversation has mostly died down. Hopefully we haven’t heard the end of this yet, since college and grad school rankings are simply too influential to let them easily be gamed by some schools.

Stay tuned for our predictions for 2012, coming soon. In the meantime, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!