Last week, the Wall Street Journal online published an article about MIT Sloan’s miscalculation for the incoming Class of 2014 (“Bad Math: MIT Miscounts Its New B-School Students”). A little background first: A school has a target class size (Sloan’s is about 400), and it has an applicant pool from which to choose people to fill that class (Sloan had more than 4,000 applicants for its 2014 class). The challenge for a school is to predict what percentage of the admitted candidates will choose to come to that school, a percentage referred to by the b-school admissions teams as the yield.
Here is what happened at Sloan. Sloan’s Class of 2014 yield was higher than the admissions team had expected. Rather than expand its class size to accommodate everyone who had decided to attend, Sloan asked for volunteers to defer school for a year and ultimately offered up a one-time partial scholarship (to the tune of $20K) to entice a few more students.
What does this say about MIT Sloan?
A few things. First, Sloan is clearly a school that is committed to the community feel that its smaller class size fosters. Rather than risking a change to the school’s culture, Sloan passed up on tuition dollars that would have come in this year and even paid some folks to wait for a year. That is how important the culture is at Sloan.
Second, although you cannot claim a trend based on one year, if Sloan underestimated the yield, perhaps Sloan is gaining popularity with applicants. Already in the top five according to some rankings surveys, Sloan continues to shine for its emphasis on innovation, collaborative teamwork and leadership.
What does this mean for you?
Well, because Sloan has already guaranteed some of the spots in its 2015 class, it means fewer spaces will be up for grabs during the current application cycle. This can be intimidating given that, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2013 Best Business Schools Rankings, Sloan accepted only 13% of applicants in a recent application year.
Do not let this stop you from applying, though. At the end of the day, whether the school has a 13% acceptance rate, a 25% acceptance rate or a 1% acceptance rate, your application strategy should not change. Commit yourself to developing the most compelling application possible—essays that showcase the “real” you, a strong GMAT score, a robust and accomplishment-driven resume, recommendations from people who can give evidence of your leadership, etc. This is your best defense against competition—and perhaps, in this case, miscalculations.
By Liza Weale, mbaMission senior consultant. To sign up for a free 30-minute consultation with Liza or any other mbaMission consultant, please visit www.mbamission.com/consult.php.