5 Ways Your MBA Application Journey Is Changing

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Tuesday, August 24, 2021
By Marco De Novellis
Photo by iStock
It's never been more important to keep up with the latest changes to MBA admissions, to be as prepared as possible to make a successful application.

Business schools are using new technologies to fine-tune the MBA admissions process.

Since COVID, and the shift online, business schools are more prepared to innovate with technology, and that extends to MBA admissions.

That means more aspects of your MBA application journey will take place online, from virtual admissions events to video interviews.

In this changing environment, it’s never been more important to keep up with the latest changes to MBA admissions, to be as prepared as possible to make a successful application.

Here’s five ways your MBA application journey is changing:

1. Business schools are opening virtual campuses

While before the pandemic, you may have been expected to visit campuses and attend information events in person, the dynamic has shifted. Now, business schools are actively seeking to connect with you online.

Virtual events, like ones hosted by The MBA Tour, allow you to connect with business schools admissions staff globally, engage in panel discussions on admissions topics, and gain valuable information related to MBA admission requirements and application materials.

Yet some schools are going further. In partnership with a company that builds online video games, Germany’s Frankfurt School of Finance and Management is building an immersive virtual campus, which you enter with an avatar and have the freedom of movement to travel around the 3D campus, sign up for admissions events, and attend assessment days.

“You’ll be able to do this on a mobile device, desktop, or using a virtual reality headset,” says Oliver Matthews, Chief Marketing Officer at Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.

While many schools offer virtual campus tours, consisting of 360-degree guided video tours of campus buildings and student accommodation, Matthews wanted to recreate an experience of the same value and immersive quality as the school’s campus-based open days online. The virtual campus is set to launch this fall.

“Candidates want an immersive experience that doesn’t feel like you’re bouncing between a flat desktop screen and a Zoom call,” Matthews says.

2. You can learn more about a school via online taster sessions

With so many options available at the click of the button, some schools are offering free pre-program taster sessions and masterclasses to grab your attention. By attending these sessions, you can learn more about the school’s admissions process and pick up new knowledge and skills.

ESCP Business School hosts webinars, virtual recruitment events, and creates useful video content to guide candidates through the admissions process, including videos explaining how to prepare for an interview, write a personal statement, and network effectively.

ESCP has also hosted an open day online, with virtual booths where candidates can visit different departments of the school, sit in on masterclasses taught by professors, and meet the student services team.

Amir Michael, full-time MBA Director at Durham University Business School, says taster sessions offered by his school are a way of engaging candidates throughout the admissions process.

“Building relationships with candidates in a friendly environment, and giving them confidence in our learning environment, is crucial, especially since the majority of students on our program are international,” he says.

3. Video assessments are on the rise

As well as video interviews, schools are using video assessments and video essays to assess your fit for their MBA programs virtually.

Chris Healy, Head of MBA Marketing and Recruitment at Alliance Manchester Business School, says the school’s use of video assessments, alongside traditional essay questions and face-to-face interviews, is about personalization.

“The video assessment provides applicants with an opportunity to share what they will bring to our MBA in a more personal way and bring to life the person we’ve learned about on paper.”

The Manchester MBA video assessment consists of four questions—focused on motivations, leadership, problem solving, teamwork and empathy, and one light-hearted question—designed to be answered without prior preparation, to get a sense of your communication skills and ability to think on your feet.

4. Standardized testing is changing

While the content of MBA admission exams like the GMAT is the same as it was pre-COVID, the delivery of those tests has become more flexible. The GMAT Online Exam, launched after the COVID outbreak, allows you to take the GMAT—the leading MBA admission test—from the comfort of your home.

Frankfurt has also started working with online testing company, Business Test Methods, which gives you a one-week window to take their admission test. The schools are given access to a recording of the exam and are notified about any red flags, so the admissions team can monitor when an examinee leaves their computer or looks at a second screen.

Although some MBA programs are making submitting test scores optional, scoring well on the GMAT, or an alternative test, is still a sure-fire way to prove your academic readiness for a program and critical for entry to many business schools.

5. Still, a human connection is vital

Business schools are keen to maintain a human element to the admissions process despite the adoption of new technologies sparked by COVID.

Sure, schools use AI technology to automate elements of the admissions and enrollment process, but they’re not yet ready to use the kind of AI tools leveraged by some companies to screen resumes and assess candidates. Schools still want to meet you face-to-face to build a personal connection and better assess your communication and interpersonal skills.

“Most of our programs are in-person experiences. Whether recruiting or interviewing, in-person is an interesting part of the assessment process, both for candidates and for us as we figure out the right candidates for the program,” explains Dawna Levenson, Assistant Dean of Admissions at MIT Sloan.

While lockdowns and travel restrictions persist, schools are trying to bring as much of an intimate human element to your MBA application journey as possible.

MIT Sloan have replaced large virtual info sessions with intimate coffee chats, hosting around 15-to-20 candidates, where you can join in conversation with admissions staff, current MBA students, and alums.

At Emory University Goizueta Business School, each MBA applicant is allocated a personal contact on the admissions team and you can communicate via text. Goizueta has also ramped up individual consultations, ensuring everyone who wants to speak one-to-one with the admissions team has the opportunity to do so.

“Since COVID, we’ve taken on a reassuring role with students, helping them get to know the community and communicating why they should choose Atlanta when they haven’t visited yet,” says Melissa Rapp, Associate Dean of MBA Admissions.

“Meeting people face-to-face, coming to campus, feeling that tight-knit community, and seeing the relationships between faculty, staff, and students—not being able to share that in-person has been our biggest challenge since the move online.”

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Marco De Novellis
Senior Editor, BusinessBecause & GMAC Media
The views expressed by contributors to AACSB Insights do not represent an official position of AACSB, unless clearly stated.
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