Cambridge Judge Business School | Ms. Story-Teller To Data-Cruncher
GMAT 700 (anticipated), GPA 3.5 (converted from Australia)
Stanford GSB | Mr. Failed Startup Founder
GMAT 740, GPA 4
Kellogg | Mr. Operator
GMAT 740, GPA 4.17/4.3
MIT Sloan | Mr. Energy Transition
GMAT 760, GPA 3.95
Harvard | Mr. STEM Minor
GMAT 740, GPA 3.78
INSEAD | Mr. Sustainability PM
GRE 335, GPA 3.5
INSEAD | Mr. Business Manager
GMAT 750, GPA 3.0
HEC Paris | Mr. Productivity Focused
GMAT 700, GPA 3.6
Emory Goizueta | Mr. Tech Engineer
GRE 310, GPA 4.0
McCombs School of Business | Mr. CRE
GMAT 625, GPA 3.4
Wharton | Mr. Finance Nerd
GMAT 750, GPA 3.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Army Marketing
GRE 327, GPA 3.8
Darden | Mr. Financial World
GMAT 730, GPA 7.8
Harvard | Mr. First Gen Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 4.0 (First Class Honours)
Wharton | Mr. Global Perspective
GMAT 750, GPA 3.6
INSEAD | Ms. Marketing Supe Latina
GMAT 720-740 (anticipated), GPA 3.1 (last two years 3.4)
Stanford GSB | Mr. Financial Solutions
GRE 313, GPA 3.62
Wharton | Mr. Valuation Specialist
GMAT 710, GPA 4.0
Cambridge Judge Business School | Mr. Commercial Engineer
GMAT 680, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Schoolmaster
GMAT 710 (to re-take), GPA 3.5 (Converted from UK)
Wharton | Ms. Atypical Applicant
GRE 314, GPA 3.1
Wharton | Mr. Passion Projects
GMAT 730, GPA 3.15
MIT Sloan | Mr. MBB Transformation
GMAT 760, GPA 3.46
Yale | Mr. Army Logistics
GRE 310, GPA 3.72
Stanford GSB | Mr. Clown
GMAT 740, GPA 3.85
Chicago Booth | Mr. EduTech
GRE 337, GPA 3.9
MIT Sloan | Mr. Sans-Vertebrae
GMAT 730, GPA 3.78

Rankings Still Sway Most MBA Applicants

Source: 2014-2015 AIGAC applicant survey

Source: 2014-2015 AIGAC applicant survey

Each year, the admissions consulting group asks applicants which schools got to know them best through the application process. This time, however, AIGAC also tracked which schools’ scores declined and then attempted to find out why. The group came up with the rather self-serving conclusion that schools which reduced the number of required essays fell more in popularity than those that didn’t. Of course, the greater the essay requirement by schools, the more likely it is that applicants would hire a consultant to help them choose their topics and edit their essays.

Nonetheless, a group of familiar schools floated to the top: Duke, Chicago, Virginia, Dartmouth, and Northwestern (see above). The schools showing the largest year-over-year declines on this measure were Yale, Michigan, Tuck, and Kellogg. “Surprisingly, a few of the schools that showed year-on-year declines in applicants’ perceptions of how well schools got to know them were also schools that have implemented innovations like video essays and group interviews,” notes Ricci. Oddly, given the fact that Harvard Business School brought its essays down to only one last year and made it optional, Harvard had a slight increase in its score (see below).

Source: 2014-2015 AIGAC applicant survey

Source: 2014-2015 AIGAC applicant survey

The survey also found that most applicants–68%–engage an MBA admissions consultant less than six months before their target schools require the submission of an application. Some 31% hire a consultant seven months or more before application deadlines (see below.

Source: 2014-2015 AIGAC applicant survey

Source: 2014-2015 AIGAC applicant survey

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.