I’d like to share some conference “takeaways” from the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC) meeting in Cambridge, Massachusetts earlier this month. Held at MIT Sloan with visits to HBS, Tuck, and Babson and with presentations by representatives of Wharton, INSEAD, Georgetown, Carnegie Mellon, Haas, Vanderbilt, Darden, Rotman, Yale, UCLA, Columbia, McCombs, IESE, LBS, and Stanford, there were many information highlights.
• An MIT professor has coined the current student population as Generation “S.” One-third of MIT students take three or more electives in sustainability.
• Another MIT professor describes true entrepreneurs as innovation drivers – their companies interact with global markets, they produce products for export, and they have a sustainable competitive advantage. It is these companies that can transform an economy.
• MIT experienced a 35% increase in applications last year.
• MIT’s Master of Finance Program currently has 120 students, 40% women, 80% International, and 80% directly from undergrad. In contrast, the MBA program has 400 students of which 40% are women, 40% international, and students have an average of five years full-time experience.
It was discussed that there are four levels of listening during an MBA interview:
1. Cosmetic listening: This is when you’re not really listening. The mind is focused elsewhere. This sometimes occurs when interviewees are nervous or focused on giving a memorized response.
2. Conversational listening: This listening occurs when you’re engaged in conversation, listening, talking, thinking. An interviewee might actually miss the real point that the interviewer is trying to make because they are too focused on planning and giving their reply.
3. Active listening: During active listening, you are very focused on what the other person is saying and attuned to what is happening. During an interview, an interviewee will use paraphrasing and rephrasing to ensure understanding.
4. Deep listening: This listening is more focused on other, rather than self, where the listener is aware of both content and the overall situation. As an interviewee, it allows you to think more strategically about the interaction.
Here are a few tidbits from the AIGAC Survey results of 1,114 applicants for 2017 enrollment:
Expectations of applicants:
• Nearly half of the applicants expect a 50% increase in income
• 56.2% seeking to advance career
• 55.6% seeking better job prospects
• 51.1% seeking to broaden their professional network
The influence of admissions consultants:
• 32% said consultants advised to earn a higher GMAT prior to applying
• 29% applied to schools not previously considered
• 27% applied to more schools than originally planned
• 16% applied to higher ranked schools
• 15% applied to lower ranked schools
How applicants selected schools:
• 74% reputation
• 46% location
• 48% impact on career
• 38% culture of school
• 36% career placement statistics
• 35% alumni network
• 32% global programming
• 30% scholarship
The most challenging application components:
• 61% standardized tests
• 46% essays
• 20% interview
• 18% letters of recommendation
• 16% video submission
• 3% group exercise
There was consensus that most MBA schools accept either the GRE or the GMAT. However, some employers post-graduation prefer the GMAT (investment banking, consulting). Taking the GMAT is encouraged if the first-time practice score is fair and the applicants feel confident they can move “fair” to “good” or “competitive” for their target schools.
More schools are using application software that informs them whether the applicants wrote their own letter of recommendation (often at the request of the recommender). It is important to find recommenders that are willing to write a recommendation on your behalf.
Applicants ranked the following in order of how well a school got to know the applicant through the admissions process:
Attending AIGAC was an opportunity to learn more about some of the schools our clients are interested in. It also provided time to network with other consultants from many areas of the world to share insights on the factors resulting in successful admissions applications. I’d be delighted to share with you one-on one not only what I gleaned from the conference, but the lessons learned over thirty years in university and MBA career services and administration.
With 30 years of career/admissions experience at four universities, including Cornell’s Johnson School, Karin facilitated students’ entry into the world’s best companies. As a member of the adcom, she also evaluated applications. She knows what schools and employers seek.