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Trends in MBA Applications: Last 6 Cycles VS Last 2 Cycles

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Tuck Thread Master
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Trends in MBA Applications: Last 6 Cycles VS Last 2 Cycles [#permalink] New post 26 Feb 2013, 02:33
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I don't know about you guys, but I find some of essaysnark's posts to be pretty insightful. In case you're wondering, I'm not affiliated with them.

One of the latest posts that I find very interesting is about the trends in applications, specifically comparing the Net Growth/Reduction of Applications in the last 6 cycles (2006-07 to 2011-12) with the Net Growth/Reduction of Applications in the last 2 cycles (2010-11 to 2011-12).

Image

http://essaysnark.com/2013/02/last-seas ... on-trends/

The trends that I'm seeing are:
1. Brand matters - If you look at the right-hand side, despite the economic downturn, the net applications at HBS, Stanford, MIT and Kellogg in the last 6 cycles are way ahead of other top 16 schools. HBS's growth is particularly impressive with ~1500 additional applications in the last 6 cycles.
Exceptions: Wharton and CBS are the only heavyweights that are experiencing net decline in the last 6 cycles. My guess is that these schools tend to accept students with finance background. With the collapse of some financial institutions, it's only logical that these schools were hit the hardest as their main target market for applicants suddenly shrunk. Refer to Poets and Quants article for more info on CBS's 19% plunge in the last 2 cycles.

2. Schools on the rise - Looks like Anderson, Fuqua and Tuck have been doing something right in the past 6 cycles. Despite the recession, they've been able to grow their applications in that period. Anderson's net applications in the last 2 cycles are particularly exceptional - I believe the credit goes to Robert Weiler, the Associate Dean of Admissions (See Poets and Quants article for more info). Cornell and Darden also did very well in the last 2 cycles (See this P&Q article for more info).

3. Kellogg is doing very well in the Midwest - Booth has a net growth of about 250 applications in the last 6 cycles, but Kellogg seems to be attracting more applicants as it's been able to grow by about 850 applications in the same period.

What other trends or observations do you see?
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Re: Trends in MBA Applications: Last 6 Cycles VS Last 2 Cycles [#permalink] New post 26 Feb 2013, 09:08
Very interesting! Thanks for sharing.
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Re: Trends in MBA Applications: Last 6 Cycles VS Last 2 Cycles [#permalink] New post 26 Feb 2013, 11:01
Pretty hard to interpret this graph without any indication of applicant quality...E.g., HBS received 1,500 more applications than they did 6 years ago, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the program is more competitive...what if they have just been marketing towards a lot more "low quality" applicants in an effort to decrease their acceptance rate (and increase their selectivity ranking)...
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Re: Trends in MBA Applications: Last 6 Cycles VS Last 2 Cycles [#permalink] New post 27 Feb 2013, 00:20
OptimisticApplicant wrote:
Pretty hard to interpret this graph without any indication of applicant quality...E.g., HBS received 1,500 more applications than they did 6 years ago, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the program is more competitive...what if they have just been marketing towards a lot more "low quality" applicants in an effort to decrease their acceptance rate (and increase their selectivity ranking)...


Well, having knowledge about the applicant quality would be great as that will give us better insights. However, we're faced with two challenges:
1. 'applicant quality' might be a bit hard to define. Some might say that the GMAT is the best indicator of applicant quality. I'd disagree with this since I believe quality is a combination of work experience, GMAT, GPA and community work.

Nevertheless, it'd be great to see a breakdown of these net applicants VS GMAT score ranges and distribution.

2. Unfortunately, not all schools publish their applicant pool's GMAT score ranges and distribution.
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Re: Trends in MBA Applications: Last 6 Cycles VS Last 2 Cycles [#permalink] New post 27 Feb 2013, 08:28
theK wrote:
OptimisticApplicant wrote:
Pretty hard to interpret this graph without any indication of applicant quality...E.g., HBS received 1,500 more applications than they did 6 years ago, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the program is more competitive...what if they have just been marketing towards a lot more "low quality" applicants in an effort to decrease their acceptance rate (and increase their selectivity ranking)...


Well, having knowledge about the applicant quality would be great as that will give us better insights. However, we're faced with two challenges:
1. 'applicant quality' might be a bit hard to define. Some might say that the GMAT is the best indicator of applicant quality. I'd disagree with this since I believe quality is a combination of work experience, GMAT, GPA and community work.

Nevertheless, it'd be great to see a breakdown of these net applicants VS GMAT score ranges and distribution.

2. Unfortunately, not all schools publish their applicant pool's GMAT score ranges and distribution.


Completely agree that the applicant quality data is not available and that it is challenging to define applicant quality metrics. My argument is that any insights gleaned without a sense of applicant quality aren't particularily useful. I don't think you can say "School X is doing something right" or "School Y is doing something wrong" soley because of their changes in application volume.

For example, CBS applications are down 19% year-over-year - on the surface, that seems like a really bad thing for CBS...however, the class profile for the Class entering 2011 and Class entering 2012 aren't that different in terms of GMAT/GPA:

2011: average GMAT: 716, average GPA: 3.5
2012: average GMAT: 715, average GPA: 3.5

So if the quality (in this case defined by GMAT/GPA) of the class is more or less the same, is it really a "bad thing" for CBS that their applications are down 19% year-over-year? I'm not really sure.
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Re: Trends in MBA Applications: Last 6 Cycles VS Last 2 Cycles [#permalink] New post 27 Feb 2013, 09:14
OptimisticApplicant wrote:
Completely agree that the applicant quality data is not available and that it is challenging to define applicant quality metrics. My argument is that any insights gleaned without a sense of applicant quality aren't particularily useful. I don't think you can say "School X is doing something right" or "School Y is doing something wrong" soley because of their changes in application volume.

For example, CBS applications are down 19% year-over-year - on the surface, that seems like a really bad thing for CBS...however, the class profile for the Class entering 2011 and Class entering 2012 aren't that different in terms of GMAT/GPA:

2011: average GMAT: 716, average GPA: 3.5
2012: average GMAT: 715, average GPA: 3.5

So if the quality (in this case defined by GMAT/GPA) of the class is more or less the same, is it really a "bad thing" for CBS that their applications are down 19% year-over-year? I'm not really sure.


I think it's more indicative of the demand for a CBS education, rather than the quality of the student body or of the value of an MBA from CBS.

Any way you slice it, we're talking a drop in 1,260 applications for Columbia year-over-year. That means that fewer applicants are buying what Columbia's adcom is selling - a shot at a CBS education - along with $315,000 in lost revenue from app fees (assuming everyone pays the fee).

As you mentioned before, the school has an incentive from rankings to get more applications simply so that they can reject more applications. I'm not sure if that really has an effect on the quality of the student body or the teaching, given that their acceptance rate's still in the teens, but the school will definitely be in trouble if the blip turns into a trend.
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Re: Trends in MBA Applications: Last 6 Cycles VS Last 2 Cycles [#permalink] New post 01 Mar 2013, 06:21
TheFool wrote:
OptimisticApplicant wrote:
Completely agree that the applicant quality data is not available and that it is challenging to define applicant quality metrics. My argument is that any insights gleaned without a sense of applicant quality aren't particularily useful. I don't think you can say "School X is doing something right" or "School Y is doing something wrong" soley because of their changes in application volume.

For example, CBS applications are down 19% year-over-year - on the surface, that seems like a really bad thing for CBS...however, the class profile for the Class entering 2011 and Class entering 2012 aren't that different in terms of GMAT/GPA:

2011: average GMAT: 716, average GPA: 3.5
2012: average GMAT: 715, average GPA: 3.5

So if the quality (in this case defined by GMAT/GPA) of the class is more or less the same, is it really a "bad thing" for CBS that their applications are down 19% year-over-year? I'm not really sure.


I think it's more indicative of the demand for a CBS education, rather than the quality of the student body or of the value of an MBA from CBS.

Any way you slice it, we're talking a drop in 1,260 applications for Columbia year-over-year. That means that fewer applicants are buying what Columbia's adcom is selling - a shot at a CBS education - along with $315,000 in lost revenue from app fees (assuming everyone pays the fee).

As you mentioned before, the school has an incentive from rankings to get more applications simply so that they can reject more applications. I'm not sure if that really has an effect on the quality of the student body or the teaching, given that their acceptance rate's still in the teens, but the school will definitely be in trouble if the blip turns into a trend.


That all make sense to me. I guess my contention is really with U.S. News for ranking on the selectivity variable - why should any stakeholders (applicants, recruiters, etc.) care about all-in demand for the education if it doesn't impact the quality of the degree?
Re: Trends in MBA Applications: Last 6 Cycles VS Last 2 Cycles   [#permalink] 01 Mar 2013, 06:21
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