1. Continuing Impact of Rising Tuition Combined with Recession
- The law school admissions world has been roiled by the high levels of debt assumed by law school students in anticipation of high-paying jobs that simply never materialized. A couple of cases of alleged fraud by admissions offices have further stirred this volatile stew. In 2013, look for more transparency in reporting hiring trends for law school graduates. The ABA has already taken a few baby steps in that direction; I believe they will take more. Law schools will become more open with this data, with or without a kick from the ABA, to protect themselves from law suits from unhappy customers: their students.
- The trend towards more openness with hiring data will spill over to MBA programs next. Look for more data in the form of numbers, not just names of companies. Other larger graduate programs will follow suit.
- Expect more focus on realistic, well-reasoned goals in all areas of graduate admissions. The days of going to graduate school to avoid the world of work are over — unless you have very well-to-do parents.
2. More Experimentation with Interview Formats
Wharton experimented with group interviews. Several medical schools have tried “Multiple Mini-Interviews,” or what I would call interviews a la speed dating. I also expect more programs, especially MBA and computer science programs, to try team interviews to see how students interact in a team setting. The main limitation on implementing change in this area will be cost and geography.
3. Increased Flexibility in B-School Curricula
The goal here is to increase curriculum flexibility so that students can contribute more effectively during their internships. UCLA Anderson and Wharton introduced new curricula this year that allow students to dive deep into their areas of specialty from Day 1 and postpone requirements unrelated to their major or concentration to the second year. In response to feedback from recruiters, both schools aimed to increase the ability of their students to contribute more effectively as interns, and let’s remember that internships are try-outs for permanent positions. I didn’t see the Round 1 data from Wharton, but Anderson proudly reports that its Round 1 application volume climbed 20%; it attributes that growth largely to the curriculum reform. Anticipated appeal to recruiters and increased hiring drive MBA application volume. And higher application volume and hiring improves rankings; now that’s a real winner. Look for more schools allowing students to fulfill non-major requirements in their second year.
By Linda Abraham, founder of Accepted.com and author of MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.
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