Behind UCLA’s 22% Surge In MBA Apps

EMPHASIZING FIT AND EMPLOYABILITY IN ADMISSIONS

“We were conscious of not chasing GMAT or GPA,” explains Weiler. “We wanted the right people here to have the best career outcomes. We wanted to make sure we were emphasizing fit and employability. That was the goal.”

It helped that Weiler is an enthusiastic ambassador for the school. “His passion,” adds Ainslie, “shows in every talk he gives to prospective students.”  It also helped that of four key staff members under Ainslie, Weiler and three assistant deans in charge of student affairs, admissions and careers, three are alums of the program and the fourth has been at Anderson for more than 30 years. “You cannot buy the sort of commitment that they give to this institution,” says Ainslie.

Anderson was able to execute its turnaround while in the midst of a potentially distracting effort to attain self-supporting status for its full-time MBA program. That highly publicized and controversial initiative was wending its way through the university’s bureaucratic channels. Anderson Dean July Olian has led that effort to end state support of the MBA program, leaving the day-to-day operations of running the school’s flagship program to Ainslie and his team.

WEILER PERSONALLY READ EVERY ONE OF THE 3,335 MBA APPLICATIONS THAT CAME IN

Weiler says he personally read every one of the 3,335 applications received by Anderson to insure that each admit had both the “culture fit” with the school and the “career fit” that would enable Anderson to give them a positive outcome. “We wanted people who would come in and have the skills to achieve their goals,” he says.

To more effectively screen for those applicants, Weiler put greater emphasis on admissions interviews. He reduced the number of interviews done by alumni, particularly in remote locations, in favor of Skype sessions with admissions staffers or second-year MBA students. “The interviews are where the rubber meets the road,” he says. “If an interview didn’t match up with the essays, suddenly the truth comes out. We used those data points to connect the dots.”

Weiler thinks that even the strong position Anderson took on plagiarism was a plus. “What it did was alert people to the fact that we were really being cognizant of ethics and morals,” he says. “For most people, that was something they wanted to be part of. There were a significant number of people we threw out of the pool. Some of them could have had 750 GMATs and 3.9 GPAs.” The school says that 74 applications, roughly 2% of its applicant pool, set off its TurnItIn software alert for having 10% or more of any essay copied from other sources.

THIS YEAR’S ENROLLED CLASS IS 4% SMALLER THAN LAST YEAR’S CLASS

Ultimately, the school enrolled a class that was 4% smaller than a year earlier, largely because it had miscalculated the year before and enrolled more than its annual intake target of between 355 and 360 students. “We want to be exactly one or two people on either side of those numbers,” says Weiler.

Weiler, meantime, has received yet another promotion to associate dean of the full-time MBA program. “As associate dean, his footprint will be extended,” says Ainslie. “Not only has he now had a very palpable impact on our career center and our admissions process, but he will now help oversee the integration of all these aspects.”

DON’T MISS: CORNELL AND DARDEN BUCK DOWN TREND IN MBA APPLICATIONS or COLUMBIA MBA APPLICATIONS PLUNGE 19%

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.