Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB to PM
GRE 338, GPA 4.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Navy Officer
GMAT 770, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Mr. Polyglot
GMAT 740, GPA 3.65
Stanford GSB | Mr. Rocket Scientist Lawyer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.65 Cumulative
Darden | Mr. Stock Up
GMAT 700, GPA 3.3
Tuck | Mr. Consulting To Tech
GMAT 750, GPA 3.2
Stanford GSB | Mr. Classic Candidate
GMAT 760, GPA 3.9
Wharton | Mr. Sr. Systems Engineer
GRE 1280, GPA 3.3
Cambridge Judge Business School | Mr. Social Scientist
GRE 330, GPA 3.5
Darden | Mr. Federal Consultant
GMAT 780, GPA 3.26
INSEAD | Mr. Consulting Fin
GMAT 730, GPA 4.0
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Enlisted Undergrad
GRE 315, GPA 3.75
INSEAD | Ms. Hope & Goodwill
GMAT 740, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Milk Before Cereals
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3 (16/20 Portuguese scale)
Chicago Booth | Mr. Guy From Taiwan
GRE 326, GPA 3.3
Darden | Mr. Leading Petty Officer
GRE (MCAT) 501, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Mr. Sales To Consulting
GMAT 760, GPA 3.49
Columbia | Mr. NYC Native
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Tepper | Mr. Leadership Developement
GMAT 740, GPA 3.77
Harvard | Ms. Athlete Entrepreneur
GMAT 750, GPA 3.3
Darden | Mr. Education Consulting
GRE 326, GPA 3.58
Harvard | Ms. Ambitious Hippie
GRE 329, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Unrealistic Ambitions
GMAT 710, GPA 2.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Equal Opportunity
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
Tuck | Mr. Over-Experienced
GRE 330, GPA 3.0
HEC Paris | Mr. Indian Entrepreneur
GMAT 690, GPA 2.1
Chicago Booth | Mr. Community Uplift
GMAT 780, GPA 2.6

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.