UCLA Anderson | Mr. Commercial Banker
GMAT 700, GPA 3.3
Duke Fuqua | Ms. Account Executive
GMAT 560, GPA 3.3
IU Kelley | Mr. Construction Manager
GRE 680, GPA 3.02
Rice Jones | Mr. Back To School
GRE 315, GPA 3.0
Emory Goizueta | Mr. Multimedia
GRE 308, GPA 3.4
NYU Stern | Mr. Military Officer
GRE In Progress, GPA 2.88
Stanford GSB | Ms. Artistic Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 9.49/10
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare Fanatic
GMAT 770, GPA 3.46
Harvard | Mr. Sovereign Wealth Fund
GMAT 730, GPA 3.55
Harvard | Mr. Smart Operations
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
Darden | Mr. Strategy Manager
GRE 321, GPA 3.5
Ross | Mr. Airline Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.73
Stanford GSB | Mr. Corporate VC Hustler
GMAT 780, GPA 3.17
Wharton | Mr. Marketing Director
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3
Ross | Ms. Healthcare Startup
GRE 321, GPA 3.51
Kellogg | Mr. Real Estate Finance
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0
Georgetown McDonough | Ms. Air Force
GMAT 610, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. JD To MBA
GRE 326, GPA 3.01
Harvard | Mr. MacGruber
GRE 313, GPA 3.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Poet At Heart
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Yale | Mr. Ukrainian Biz Man
GRE 310, GPA 4.75 out of 5
Darden | Mr. Former Scientist
GMAT 680, GPA 3.65
Stanford GSB | Mr. Sustainable Business
GRE 331, GPA 3.86
Wharton | Mr. Microsoft Consultant
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.31
Yale | Ms. Impact Investing
GRE 323, GPA 3.8
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Food Waste Warrior
GMAT Not written yet (around 680), GPA 3.27
Stanford GSB | Ms. Future Tech Exec
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4

2020 Business School Application Trends

Another business school application cycle is winding down, and people are starting to craft their candidacies for the next early rounds. Here are my predictions about business school application trends.

  • Only Applying to More Selective Schools

In general, applicants are winnowing their lists and often applying exclusively to the most selective schools. There is also a renewed focus on rankings, with many candidates refusing to consider programs outside of the “M7.” This business school application trend is likely fueled in part by recent stories that have highlighted the decline in business school applications, leading people to believe that top tier schools are more accessible than in years past. (In my opinion, in reality this isn’t the case, as the average candidate is still exceptionally well qualified.) Nevertheless, the perception is that HBS, Stanford, Wharton, Sloan, etc. have drastically lowered their numeric standards, causing people to create narrow target lists.

  • Prioritizing Cost

Applicants are also being very conservative when they calculate the potential return on investment. Increasingly, candidates are reluctant to matriculate without scholarships, even to top schools. This is especially true for people in well compensated jobs who see their supervisors excelling without MBA’s. This was always true to some extent, and ROI is a factor for the majority of applicants. However, the decline in applications, coupled with the well-publicized fact that many of the top 15 schools have recently increased their scholarship budgets, is creating a bigger pool of students who won’t consider enrolling without merit aid.

  • Taking the GRE or the Executive Assessment

Good news for those of you who struggle with the GMAT: there are now more options than ever. As I’ve written before, there are compelling reasons to take the GRE, which has been widely accepted for many years. New this past cycle is the introduction of the Executive Assessment as an option for applicants to the full-time program at NYU. (The Executive Assessment is a shorter, by most reports easier, version of the GMAT, that has historically been accepted by some part-time and executive programs.) Expect more full-time schools to follow NYU during the upcoming business school admissions cycle by including the Executive Assessment as a valid testing option.


North Star Admissions Consulting LogoKaren has more than 12 years of experience evaluating candidates for admission to Dartmouth College and to the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Since founding North Star Admissions Consulting in 2012, she has helped applicants gain admission to the nation’s top schools, including Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Wharton, MIT, Tuck, Columbia, Kellogg, Booth, Haas, Duke, Johnson, Ross, NYU, UNC, UCLA, Georgetown and more. Clients have been awarded more than 24 million dollars in scholarships, and more than 97% have gotten into one of their top choice schools.