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September 13, 2011

Decrease in total applications, but increase in applicant quality

The new GMAC 2011 application trends survey is now being reported on (See Inside Higher Ed and Wall Street Journal) because there was decrease in the total number of applications to MBA programs.  While Melissa Korn at the Wall Street Journal concludes correctly at the macro-level that "Thinking of applying to business school? Now may be a good time," the picture is a bit more complicated.  I think it worth pointing two key findings in the GMAC report:

"46% of all graduate business programs saw growth in international applications, with China and India topping the list of foreign applicants, especially for full-time MBA programs."

This means that while there has been an overall decrease in applications to US programs, the number of foreign applicants has increased.   If you are an international applicant, things have not gotten any easier.

"Among MBA programs, the majority reported decreased volume in 2011, but candidate quality and academic credentials are higher than last year."

In other words, there are fewer, but better candidates competing for admission. So while in the aggregate it has gotten easier to get in, that does not necessarily result in a less competitive climate.  And it is true that the acceptance rate for the HBS Class of 2012 was 11%, but actually, the "normal rate" appears to be 12% because the acceptance rates for HBS Classes of 2013, 2011, and 2005 was 12%.  We are back to the norm.

It is always worth keeping in mind that ultimately the success of any particular applicant is a result of their efforts and their realism in the school selection process.

-Adam Markus

アダム マーカス
I am a graduate admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. If you would like to arrange an initial consultation, please complete my intake form, which is publicly available on google docs here, and then send your completed form to adammarkus@gmail.com.  You can also send me your resume if it is convenient for you.  Please don't email me any essays, other admissions consultant's intake forms, your life story, or any long email asking for a written profile assessment. The only profiles I assess are those with people who I offer initial consultations to. See here for why. Please note that initial consultations are not offered when I have reached full capacity or when I determine that I am not a good fit with an applicant.
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