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).
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.