Huron found that the schools with the most improved year-over-year scores from applicants were Columbia Business School, Northwestern Kellogg and MIT Sloan. On the other hand, the schools that saw some slippage in applicant perceptions of the admissions process were Duke, Stanford, Berkeley and Harvard (see below), according to the survey of business school candidates.
THE NEW MBA VIDEO TESTS: A MIXED REACTION FROM APPLICANTS, BUT MUCH MORE NEGATIVE FROM INTERNATIONAL CANDIDATES
One of the changes in this year’s survey of business school candidates was an effort to gain applicant perspective on business schools who now have a video component in their admissions procedures. Among the most prominent schools that require a video test are Northwestern’s Kellogg School, Yale School of Management and the University of Toronto’s Rotman School. Asked how well the video essay represented them, 50% of international applicants said “not at all” or “not very well.” Those views were shared by about 40% of U.S. applicants.
But the reactions to video–experienced by a third of the survey’s sample–were across the board. Some applicants were enthusiastic. “It’s a great way to acquaint admissions with applicants – especially since personality and presence is difficult to communicate over paper. Video is the future and most people already have access to that – why not leverage it? Confident applicants will benefit tremendously, as will schools who are looking for more than applicants who are simply strong on paper,” one applicant said.
In contrast, there were some that made no bones that they disliked the test. “While the intended purpose of the video essays is to make the process more personal, I think the opposite is actually true as speaking to a computer is quite different from engaging with a human being in a conversation,” added one candidate. Another called the video test “very awkward. People tend to look horrible on webcam, so an enormous amount of time and effort is wasted positioning the camera, computer, lighting, etc. Yes, we are told appearance does not matter, but looking at one’s self while speaking is related to confidence and delivery, and when you look terrible because a tiny camera in a poorly lit room is the medium of representation, it is not a fair representation,” the applicant said.
THE INDUSTRY OF PREFERENCE FOR APPLICANTS: CONSULTING FOLLOWED BY FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING
The most common industry choices among the applicants? Consulting ruled the roost, getting 51% of the vote. Finance and accounting came in second with just 31%, followed by technology with 29%, and products and services at 23%. Some 12% of the candidates said they wanted to work for either the government or the non-profit sector. Energy and utilities as well as healthcare each attracted 10%, while 9% expressed an interest in working in manufacturing after they got the MBA degree.
More than 20% of applicants expect to start their own business, the survey of business school candidates found, but in leading MBA programs, less than 7% do–largely because of the chance to earn six-figure starting salaries at leading brand name companies.
And when it came to selecting a school, applicants said that reputation was the single most important factor in their decision, followed by impact on career, location, school culture, and rankings (see below).
And when it came to MBA rankings, Bloomberg BusinessWeek lost its commanding lead this past year as the most consulted list by applicants, narrowly getting edged out by U.S. News & World Report. This year, the survey found that 57.1% of its respondents consulted BusinessWeek, down from 69% in 2012. U.S. News gained ground, moving to 57.2%, up from 54% a year ago. The Financial Times suffered the same fate as BusinessWeek dropping to 52% from 61%.
Poets&Quants maintained its ranking as the most consulted list after the big three with 41%, while The Economist came in next with 38% and Forbes last with 35%. Some 20% of the responding applicants said they consulted The Wall Street Journal, which no longer publishes a ranking.