Acceptance rates for the following schools:
as reported by US News seem a little ridiculous and almost suspicious. Was 2006 a freak year or is this fairly typical? These rates hardly make these schools sound selective. Not that this makes me doubt their quality. I just dont want to have a false sense of hope.
Also, I'm confused about what exactly schools like Cornell look for. I mean they have 2 short essays. How are they supposed to get a feel for who you are and how much research you've done from this? When compared to Columbia, Cornell's application seems ridiculously easy. I'm just not sure if this is a good thing though.
Does this make the school visit for Cornell ultra important? The trek to Ithaca will not be an easy one.
Well, I believe Business Week reported the same "ridiculous" selectivity rates for these schools as well. They are hard to believe, but not completely incredible in my opinion. I believe they are "nonrepeatable" aberrations caused by the tail-end of the B-school slump that followed the economic slump that began in 2000. I also believe they reflect an increasing competitiveness among applicants toward getting into the best-branded schools. These are three great programs but they don't have the brand of H/S/W etc. and so the people who apply to them probably tend to be the ones who are most motivated to attend these particular schools. That is, because their brands are comparatively weak, they receive fewer of the non-due-diligence "I wanna elite MBA!" crowd that inflates the application volume of the top schools. It's something the discriminating applicant can take advantage of.
I don't think Cornell's 2 essays make their application easier; they make it harder. You have less space in which to make your case so you need to execute extremely well in using that space to stand out. Yes, at Cornell, the importance of the campus visit -- and in fact of every non-essay part of the app (reco letters, resume, school network who will go to bat for you) -- is magnified.
Paul Bodine /
Author, Great Applications for Business School and Perfect Phrases for Business School Acceptance
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