5 Predictions for 2014 in the MBA and College Spaces

One thing that we love to do around Veritas Prep HQ is declare our opinions. Whether it’s about football, health food, traffic etiquette, dancing, or stand-up comedy, everyone here has an opinion. Even more fun is when we stick our necks out and make some predictions about where we see test preparation and admissions going in the coming year. We’re often right, and we’re always entertaining.

With that in mind, here are five trends that we predict will emerge in test prep and admissions in the coming year:

At least two more top MBA programs will introduce video as a component of their applications
In the past year we have seen business schools such as Kellogg and Yale introduce a video component to their applications. These video responses haven’t replaced essays or admissions interview outright, but have augmented them: “We are doing so because we feel that video questions will give us a more complete sense of you as an applicant,” wrote Yale SOM Director of Admissions Bruce DelMonico last year. We’re hearing mostly good things coming out of these programs about how well these changed have gone, so we expect that more MBA programs will adopt video in the coming admissions season.

2014 will go down as the year that many colleges slashed their “retail prices”
The Harvards and the Princetons of the world probably won’t have to touch their tuitions to boost their application volumes, but many smaller, more low-profile colleges have decided to stop discounting (i.e., handing out significant scholarships) and instead simply lower their tuitions. We’ve already started to see some examples of college cutting their list prices in the 2013-2014 admissions season (here and here), worrying that too many applicants were simply passing up their programs without realizing that they could get significant financial aid. Rather than hoping they dig deeper and learn what most students actually pay, these colleges have decided to just stop the “high/low” game and drop their prices by more than $10,000 per year in some cases. It took a while, but now that some colleges have started to play the pricing game, we expect many more will aggressively follow in 2014 (when they see their application numbers drop as students and parenst respond to those lower prices).

The SAT essay, in its current form, will face its demise
The SAT essay, which was introduced in 2005, has never been a favorite of college admissions officers. It’s widely known that one can do well on the essay portion of the exam without bothering to use facts correctly, a fact famously highlighted by an MIT professor back in 2007. Although the new SAT won’t launch until 2016 (one year later than The College Board originally announced), we expect to learn a lot about the new exam before the end of this year. The College Board has already hinted that the new SAT will align more closely with high school curricula, and will give less benefit to students (and SAT prep services) that focus on rote memorization of obscure words. Heck, the test could even evolve and become adaptive. But, to us, the most obvious change is that the essay section will change radically, and we expect to hear about it this year.

Integrated Reasoning will make “the leap”
In June, the Integrated Reasoning section of the GMAT will celebrate its 2nd anniversary as an official part of the GMAT – but if you count its experimental phase (when GMAC offered it as an optional section in order to gather data) it’s been around a few years. To date, MBA programs haven’t given too much credence to the IR score as part of their admissions decisions, but particularly with the experimental data having had time to prove their worth (at last summer’s AIGAC summit, GMAC showed that IR scores were the best predictor of first-year success for MBA students) employers — if not admissions officers — have taken notice of IR as a powerful assessment tool. So whether it’s MBA programs more officially incorporating IR scores into their 2014-15 admissions decisions or it’s top MBA employers finding a way to borrow Integrated Reasoning for their interview processes, 2014 should be the year that Integrated Reasoning makes the leap to prominence.

The groundwork will be laid for online education to make “the leap”
Even as online education has become more commonplace, the major ways in which students consume online education – voice over PowerPoint; video of an in-person classroom; loosely-adaptive quizzes and activities — have remained fairly constant over the years. 2014 may not be the year that the world graduates to e-Learning 2.0, but it will almost certainly be the year that the upgrade takes shape behind the scenes. With a surge in educational entrepreneurship, the increased willingness and preference of students to learn online, and an influx of investment in educational technology, we predict that the groundwork will be laid in 2014 for our prediction next January that 2015 will be the year that e-Learning takes the leap.

By Scott Shrum