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You can find a better version of my blog at http://www.adammarkus.com/blog/.

Be sure to read my Key Posts on the admissions process. Topics include essay analysis, resumes, recommendations, rankings, and more.

October 05, 2007

The value of an MBA and the admissions process

As readers to my blog may have gathered, I am fairly neutral about the value of an MBA. See here for example. I think it is great and valuable to some and a waste of time and money for others. Honestly to hold any other opinion would reduce my effectiveness as a counselor because I don't assume the value of the degree until an applicant has clearly made a strong argument for it. By remaining relatively objective, I can best help my clients clarify and explain their own reasoning both in their essays and interviews.

For international applicants, when you read articles like the one mentioned below, ask yourself if what is described actually represents conditions in your country. I know of far too many successful past clients to believe that the MBA is no longer valuable, even one obtained from a school that is not top ten.

Thus when I read articles like B-school Confidential: MBAs May Be Obsolete, I can see both the strengths and weaknesses of the argument. The author states that:
[T]he competition to get into a top-tier b-school [is] fierce. So much so that you probably need a consultant to help you get in. Wondering how effective those consultants are at gaming the system? So effective that schools are publicly saying they're trying to change the application process in order to undermine the effectiveness of application coaches.

However, she does not specify what the schools are doing. As far as I can see, schools are not doing a thing differently than in the past. The funny thing about this is that there are perfectly good ways to eliminate unethical practices:

1. Eliminate essays completely and replace them with an oral and/or written examination under the auspices of GMAC. This would eliminate ghostwriting. Conduct a school specific interview for those who have passed the initial round.

2. Standardize recommendations and require two through a common GMAC controlled process. This would reduce the burden on recommenders who find themselves needing to write between 4 and 8 separate recs for an applicant, all of which ask slightly different questions using different formats.

3. Some schools are already verifying recs for accepted applicants, so why not standardize this as well?

4. Eliminate all phone interviews unless they are conducted in a testing center so as to eliminate the possibility that the interviewee is using notes.

5. Record all interviews not conducted by admissions officers. Review said interviews to guarantee that alumni interviews are being conducted in English and that the alum's or student interviewer's comments about the applicant accurately reflect the actual interview.

As to the kind of counseling I do, none of the above would have significant impact on it except that I would read less essays and do more interview practice. Coaching on how to tell effective stories, how to articulate goals, how to select programs, and how to effectively present yourself, the core things any ethical graduate admission consultant does, would not be impacted. If I do my job right, which is the way I do it, no admissions officer will detect anything wrong because there is nothing illegitimate taking place. Effective coaching is all about making someone be the best that they can, but not about making someone into something they are not.

Write Comments or contact me directly at adammarkus@gmail.com
-Adam Markus
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