By Lucas Weingarten
WSJ got me reading, sure, but is it better to have an irritated reader than none at all? I suppose so. Admittedly, I am doing exactly the same thing both the Journal and the researchers at Northern Illinois University are doing: using Facebook in a shameless attempt to capture your attention. It worked on me and now it has worked on you. Maybe after you’re done here you can go read People or watch Fox News for some more pandering.
I’ve written before about the GMAT as a selection tool (here and here), and it is a conversation I have with all my students. It is important to understand why we have to take the GMAT and what the GMAT really is. The more you understand about the test, the more power you have over it (and the less it has over you). The basic idea is that the GMAT is built and validated to predict only one thing: your future academic performance in the first year of graduate school. That’s it. What the GMAT doesn’t predict is how smart you are or how successful you will be in your post-MBA career. Although, to that last point, some are sadly using it to do just that, which is what prompted this post.
The article is more of a snippet and it is formatted as a series of Facebook status updates (though I believe the irony of this is lost on them). An aside: the trend of online articles presented in sentences-as-paragraphs form is frustrating to me, and this one exemplifies the issue. Anyway, it did spark my memory of other invalid ways of predicting job performance so I figured I share it with you.
Scroll down to the third snippet in the stream of three and you’ll find some interesting statistics derived from GMAT data regarding the decreasing average age of MBA applicants. Of course, we can only conclude the MBA applicant is getting younger if we assume that those taking the GMAT are submitting b-school applications soon after taking the exam rather than waiting until closer to the end of the five-year test score expiration date.
Interestingly, 44% of GMAT test takers worldwide are 24 and younger, which is a 7% increase over five years. Speculation of a tough job market caused by a struggling US economy that is forcing undergraduates to apply to grad school earlier than planned is presented. We then learn that 77% of Chinese GMAT test takers are 24 and under—finally some hard numbers that don’t rely on assumptions!
I could not help but tenuously link the bit about Facebook and a younger MBA applicant pool, then land squarely on the side of grumpy-old-man cynicism. I respect people with drive and ambition and who recognize the value of graduate business education. However, solid time out of school including a muddy trudge through life before heading back to academia makes for a stronger applicant and a more meaningful grad school experience. My hope is that business schools continue to value highly years of work experience in their applicants and that they keep the number of 24-and-younger MBA degree seekers to a minimum in their admitted cohorts. Above all, I hope they don’t start using Facebook to predict academic performance. Let’s let the GMAT have that one, OK?