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The Financial Times features EXPARTUS CEO, Chioma Isiadinso, on the changing MBA admissions climate.

Changes to the MBA admissions application  

Major change looms ahead of this year’s MBA admission and applicants have to be ready to adapt to this change. I discuss many of these changes in a recent Financial Times article, The creative route to an MBA.

One of the biggest change in the MBA admissions process is Harvard Business School’s decision to pair-down its essays from four essays to only two (with the requirement to write a “memo”- email 24 hours after the interview describing how you think the interview went).

As is the norm, where Harvard goes, many schools often follow. MIT Sloan has dropped its application essay by one. So has Stanford GSB. Many other schools have done the same as well.

Wharton has also made a radical change this year by instituting a group interview process where applicants will have to engage with each other on a task while being observed by members of the admissions board.

This practice has long been used by European business schools like IESE and IMD and it will be interesting to see whether other US schools will follow in this resource-intensive process. #

We’ll just have to wait to see how the Wharton “experiment” goes.

What must applicants do to succeed?

Two vital steps will be required of MBA applicants if they want to succeed in the application process.

1.       Focus

Applicants must maintain a laser focus on their brand and select only the key elements should be emphasized.

With fewer essays, there is little room for error when it comes to choosing the essay topics you will write about. Gone are the days when applicants can write a few weak essays and compensate with other strong essays.

Make sure to select the essay topics that best speaks to your story and that provides a unique viewpoint about you that your recommender and other parts of the application, i.e. resume, can’t cover.

2.       Engage

More than ever the interview will play a vital role in the evaluation process.

Whether you are being interviewed individually or you are interacting with other applicants in a group setting, applicants will need to show their personality, contribute to the team without raising interpersonal flags that will turn off the adcom.

For example, If you are shy, you will have to make sure you speak up in the group. If you are Type A, you will need to temper your tendency to take over things completely.

Applicants will be looked at in terms of how they adapt to the interview and how they come across in person. Make sure your brand on paper (essays) matches your brand in person.

Share your comments on what you think about the FT article and the changes happening in the business school admissions world.

Chioma Isiadinso

Chioma is a former Harvard Business School admissions officer and the CEO and Co-Founder of EXPARTUS, the first MBA admissions consulting company to use personal branding as a key part of the b-school application process. Chioma is the author of The Best Business Schools' Admissions Secrets, one of the leading books on how to successfully navigate the MBA admissions process.

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