Thursday, February 26, 2009

Changing The Way Admissions Works

Having gone through three admissions processes (applying for undergrad, applying to transfer undergrad schools and now MBA admissions) I know the pain it causes those applying and the repetitive and competitive nature for the schools involved. Everyone wants the best students possible; more than that, with certain sects they need not just the best they can get, but better than a competing school. The MBA example of this is Harvard vs. Stanford. Obviously each school can accept the top kids, but they are also very much aware of what the other is doing.

Admissions is a changing environment. It used to be stats, stats and stats. SAT/ACT, LSAT and GMAT/GRE along with your GPA could define your range of possible schools. Now, it seems the tide is turning. B-schools have started accepting the GRE and focusing on a more holistic approach outside the numbers. Some undergraduate programs have stopped requiring an ACT/SAT score. My alma mater (and future B-school) Wake Forest University was the first top 30 school to stop this requirement. There is a growing trend to look at the person and not just the numbers. Anyone can get a 700 GMAT and a 3.0 GPA. What makes you different is more important.

Wake Forest is hosting a long meeting on the changing admissions process, specifically for undergrad. Distinguished schools such as Harvard, Texas and UVA are participating. The goal is to make higher, elite education more accessible to everyone. All students should have a realistic opportunity of attending these schools, not just those with ultra-high SAT scores or grinders who got 760s on the GMAT. I encourage everyone to check out the website HERE.

Could you imagine an admissions world where Stanford didn't care about your GMAT score?

1 comment:

Girish said...

The use of the GMAT is pretty surprising to me.

My guess is that standardized test scores serve two functions. First, to give the schools an indication of the likelihood the student will be academically successful; and secondly, because GMAT scores are used by the ranking bodies to determine where the school ranks.

In the case of the former, I imagine that there is enough other information in a student's application to indicate whether they will do academically that a "single best" indicator isn't really that useful.

Connecting GMAT scores to how "good" a school seems pretty spurious. A single number to measure the "quality" of the student, and by extension the quality of the program, doesn't seem to make much sense. On the other hand, perhaps a student with a high GMAT score would be expected to complete more difficult coursework, and that was being used a proxy for the quality of a program? That seems pretty tenuous as well, since the goal would be much better served by a post MBA exam, like a bar of some sort.