AIGAC’s 2015 MBA Applicant Survey [You Can Win $500!]

Click here to take the survey!As Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC) members, we are conducting a survey to help us better understand our readers’ goals and needs.

We’d like to invite all of our MBA readers to share their school selection priorities and views on the MBA application process.

Take the MBA Search Survey, and win $500 and our sincere gratitude! The anonymous data will be shared with admissions officers from top programs. Make your voice heard!

The survey should take no more than 10 minutes to complete. Everyone completing the survey will be entered to win $500 cash (contact email will be used for prize purposes only). We’ll also be sharing the results of the survey this spring to help candidates better understand the nature of today’s applicant pool.

Click here to take our MBA prospect survey.

Accepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy

Columbia Business School Hosts AIGAC!

Applying to Columbia GSB? Click here to check out our 2015 application essay tips!

Clearly, character is as important as smarts in Columbia’s equation.

On May 30, Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC) conference attendees had the privilege and pleasure of learning firsthand from Columbia Business School admissions officials, professors, students, and administrators about latest developments at CBS.

One big takeaway for me – CBS admissions has become friendlier, more welcoming.  And more transparent.  (“More” relative not just to the past but to MBA adcoms generally.)

These changes reflect the idea that, ultimately, constructive success in business (and life) comes down to people, human beings.  It was reflected during the conference in multiple ways: the warm reception we received from the adcom members, plus their openness and frankness during discussions; the heightened emphasis in the program elements (structure, curriculum, extracurriculars, etc.) on developing individual students into responsive, responsible leaders; and the student representatives’ frequent and enthusiastic references to their supportive community.

This is not to say that Columbia doesn’t still require academic rigor.  Or is softening its high admission standard.  Or that math and analytics are out the window… They’re just important in a broader context.

The adcom reps report that they seek applicants who:

• Are or have the capacity and character to be knowledge creators
• Demonstrate strong commitment
• Go out and have an impact

Clearly, character is as important as smarts in Columbia’s equation.

And character is addressed immediately for incoming students.  A scintillating presentation by Kathy Phillips, Paul Calello Professor of Leadership and Ethics, gave us a taste of her 6-day LEAD block leadership course, People, Teams, Organizations.   This course heightens students’ self-awareness through activities and dialogue to become leaders who “elicit high commitment and productivity from people and groups.”  Professor Phillips notes that this course ends up influencing students’ subsequent course selections and perspectives.

Additional points of note:

• The January entry is not just for people with family businesses, but also for people who have solid enough networks and/or networking skills in their industry that they don’t need the summer internship.

• The career services – ACE – feature three dimensions: Advisors, Coaches, and Executives-in-residence.

• Many current students volunteer to email with prospective applicants to share their experiences and answer questions – use this resource to gain a student’s-eye-view of the program!  You can sign up on the Columbia website.

• Some things remain the same in Columbia admissions, e.g., in the goals essay, specific is good.  And they want to see applicants convey fit.  The adcom now has so many resources on the web that it’s easier to research Columbia Business School from a distance than previously.

• As someone who works with many applicants to top EMBA programs, I asked what the EMBA adcom learns from the GMAT – since some other top EMBA programs no longer require a standardized test and since the GMAT score need not be super-high (indeed, I’ve had Columbia EMBA applicants admitted who had GMATs in low to mid 600s). Their answer:  willingness to take this step shows proper mindset, commitment.  So if you’re interested in applying but are put off by this requirement, perhaps go ahead.

• The acceptance rate for Early Decision applicants and for Regular Decision applicants who apply early (i.e. before approximately December 15) is the same. However, the acceptance rate for Regular Decision applicants generally goes down with the passage of time and the approach of CBS’ April 15 deadline.

Free on-demand webinar: Get Accepted to Columbia Business School!

Cindy Tokumitsu By , co-author of The Finance Professional’s Guide to MBA Admissions Success, and author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her last fifteen years with Accepted.


Click here to learn more about NYU Stern

About 70% of applicants who interview are admitted.

Not only did NYU Stern host the annual conference of Association of International Graduate Application Consultants – AIGAC – last week (along with Columbia Business School) – it also shared some valuable information about its program and applications process.  Here are several highlights.

• The admissions team characterized the Stern MBA program as “deep, diverse, and [reflecting] academic excellence.”  They cited particular strengths: finance, strategy, consulting, entertainment and media, marketing, entrepreneurship and innovation.  This array behooves applicants to define their own, unique path and approach to productively using Stern’s resources.

• Community is huge at NYU Stern – so EQ is as important as IQ and is sought by the adcom.  The value of community is even reflected in the program’s institutional resources, including the Center for Business and Human Rights established in 2013.

• Speaking of EQ, the adcom noted that applicants possessing this requisite quality will articulate fit with Stern in the application.

• It’s now the second year for the scholarship established in 2013 to “support exceptional college seniors”: William R. Berkley Scholarship Program covers full tuition and includes a housing stipend.  Scholarship winners are selected based on academic performance plus potential to contribute to society.

• Stern’s loan assistance program is open to all types of students: regular full-timers, Langone part-timers, and EMBAs.

• Fun fact: about 40% of Stern MBAs receive some kind of scholarship, including international students.

• Another fun fact: about 70% of applicants who are interviewed are admitted.

• Last but not least fun fact: the 80% GMAT range for Stern’s full-time MBA is 680-760, and for the Langone part-time program it is 620-730.

• The Berkley Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation is a particularly cherished resource at Stern – a nerve center of sorts – deeply integrated into the fabric of intellectual and professional life at the school.

 NYU’s presentation to AIGAC conference attendees also included two samples of successful video essays in response to the longstanding essay 3 asking applicants to describe themselves creatively to their classmates.  In one, the applicant showed different aspects of himself (friend, student, professional, sportsman, etc.) in little vignettes, each with a touch of humor.  None was highly unusual – one stood out because this presentation captured his charm and enthusiasm.  In the second, the applicant focused with warmth and wit on her specific passion: parks and public spaces.  So, two different approaches: one broad, one narrow.  Both fresh, expressive, confident.  Both brimming with EQ.  As I’ve told people many times, there is no one formula for doing this essay well.  And yes, it’s there again this year.

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs

Cindy Tokumitsu By , author and co-author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports, including Why MBA and Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her last fifteen years with Accepted.

AIGAC MBA Applicant Survey

AIGAC_SurveyAIGAC published its annual MBA Applicant Survey, which evaluates the experiences and preferences of recent MBA applicants in the U.S. and abroad. Highlights from the survey include:

• In terms of sources of information applicants utilized during the admissions process, school/program websites ranked the highest, followed by school rankings, communication with school alumni/current students, school visits, and MBA resource websites. (These were the top 5 sources of information.)

• When choosing a program, men placed more importance on rankings than did women.

• In general, U.S. News was ranked as the most popular b-school ranking source, but among international applicants, Financial Times was ranked highest.

• 38% of U.S. applicants who completed at least one video essay/component felt that their final video represented them well. For international applicants, on the other hand, 50% felt that the video did not represent them well.

• 20% of this year’s applicants plan on starting their own businesses after graduating from b-school. (According to U.S. News, only 7% of recent graduates from top 10 U.S. b-schools are actually self-employed.)

• 51% of applicants showed an interest in going into consulting after receiving their MBAs. About 80% of foreign students want to work in the U.S. after graduating (that is, 20% want to work in the U.S. while 60% are open to numerous options, including working in the U.S.).

• Only 40% of U.S. students consider working outside of the U.S.

• Applicants reports that of all the b-schools, Dartmouth Tuck and Duke Fuqua “got to know them best” during the application process. (These were the top two schools in this category last year as well.). The schools that showed the greatest improvement in this category: Columbia and Kellogg.

Post-Conference Reflections on the 2014 AIGAC survey There were some interesting disconnects between student expectations, as revealed in this survey, and MBA behavior as reported in school employment reports and GMAC data.

1. More than 20% of applicants plan to start their own business or be self-employed after finishing their MBA. Yet of HBS, Stanford, Sloan, Wharton, LBS, Kellogg, Booth and NYU Stern grads, less than 7% were their own boss after earning their MBA.

2. 51% hope to work in consulting, but only 28% of grads from Stanford, Sloan, Wharton, HBS, Kellogg, Booth, and NYU Stern, Tuck, Haas, and Columbia went into consulting in 2013.

Do these disconnects reveal unrealistic expectation or very reasonable flexibility on the part of MBA students? Or perhaps a real change in what MBAs want to do – a trend in the offing? I suspect and hope it’s the reasonable flexibility. Time will tell.

The presentation of the survey results at last year’s conference at Wharton surprised many admissions directors because of the high percentage of applicants asked to write their own recommendation and the frustration applicants felt at asking their recommenders to write a separate letter for each school.

I am thrilled to report that several of the schools have cooperated and agreed to ask the same questions on their letter of recommendation forms. The grid may differ, but the questions that require writing are the same. Now there should be less and less reason for “You write it; I’ll sign it.” Your application will be stronger if your recommendations truly supplement – in voice, point of view and fact –the information you present about yourself.

I’m proud of AIGAC’s role in highlighting this issue to the schools and am pleased at the schools’ prompt response and attempt to lessen the burden on applicants. I can’t help but note with pride the results when consultants and schools work together to improve the admissions process. The survey also highlights the unpopularity of the video essay/interview among international applicants. I can certainly understand that it’s uncomfortable to talk to an inanimate camera with no affect or feedback. But the reality is that oral presentation is of growing importance, and so is YouTube.

My suggestion: Practice, practice, practice. Play back the practice videos to yourself in between rehearsals, and maybe for the first several shots have someone feeding the questions to you so there will be a human being to interact with. However, it is imperative that at some point you practice by yourself in front of the dumb webcam that you will be using for the real thing.

Finally, I must give a HUGE shout-out to Vince Ricci and Andrea Sparrey, who spearheaded the survey initiative this year for AIGAC, to Huron, which provided the statistical analysis, to the committee and to all members of AIGAC who helped to publicize the survey and ensure a statistically valid sample. Finally and most importantly, thank you to the applicants who took the time to share their experiences and thoughts.

More on the fantastic AIGAC conference that I attended last week will be forthcoming. I want to mull it over a little before I write.

See the 2014 AIGAC MBA Applicant Survey for more details on the survey.

How Will You Navigate the Admissions Maze to Top MBA Programs?

Linda Abraham

By , president and founder of and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

Do Your Part to Improve MBA Admissions – Win $500!

Share your opinions and get entered into a drawing to win $500!

Survey respondents will be entered into a drawing to win $500

AIGAC, the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants, is conducting a survey and would like YOUR participation! This is your chance to share your opinions of the MBA admissions experience with top MBA admissions committees.

In May, AIGAC will hold its annual conference in New York City where they will present anonymous data about MBA applicants to the top MBA programs. That data will come from these surveys, so the more responses, the better. You can read more about the survey here.

The survey closes at the end of February, so please respond ASAP!

What about the $500?

We saved the best part for last – survey respondents will be entered into a drawing to win $500 (via PayPal). Your email address would be used only for prize notifications.

Share your opinions with the top b-school adcoms!