2012-2013 MBA Applications: Fewer Essays; Tougher Interviews?

We just wanted to share a few observations about this year's applications.

As you can see from our MBA Essays 2012-2013 page, quite a few MBA programs have released their essay questions, and we can see several trends developing.

1) Starting with HBS's drastic application revisions, many top schools have likewise simplified their applications by reducing the number of essay questions and/or eliminating trickier questions. These schools include HBS, Stanford, MIT, Kellogg, Columbia, Haas and to some degree, Wharton. We discuss some of the possible reasons for these changes in our HBS analysis.  While these changes may ease the essay-writing process for many applicants, they may also presage an increased importance on the interview, which we can see evidence of in HBS's new "post-interview essay" and Wharton's new group interview component. 

2) Certain schools are showing a renewed and/or refined interest in your reasons for choosing them (i.e., Why MBA School X?), including Columbia, Wharton, Kellogg, and Fuqua. The former and the latter have adjusted their prompts in a way that indicates they want much more thoughtful and personal answers rather than a mere recitation of courses relevant to your goals. Columbia, for example, asks why you are "interested in becoming part of the Columbia community" and provides links to the more unique aspects of their program without directly referencing your goals at all. Fuqua asks you to imagine sharing your "most meaningful" reasons for applying with the people closest to you. Meanwhile, Wharton, which did not ask at all last year, is asking you to demonstrate your knowledge of Wharton in not just one but two essays this year. And by asking you to write from a future perspective on how Kellogg helped you prepare for your goals, Kellogg seems to be asking for more specific connections between their program and your future career.

There might be a connection between these two trends: if certain schools are making it easier to apply, then they want to make sure you are applying to them with sincere intentions.