MBA News: Admissions Offices Tracking “Demonstrated Interest”

MBA applicants may now face an additional and unexpected consideration as they strive to stay on the admission staff’s good side. According to a recent Bloomberg Businessweek article, a growing number of admissions offices are using software to track “demonstrated interest” by logging whether applicants have emailed admissions staff, attended admissions events, requested information about the program or contacted alumni. “Those data points inform a profile of each student that’s slipped in alongside test scores and essay responses as schools consider which students to admit,” explains the article.

Among the schools already collecting such data are Duke Fuqua, Chicago Booth and Kellogg, suggesting that other top MBA programs may be experimenting with similar methods of assessing applicants’ eagerness. “I don’t know if that makes or breaks anyone’s admissions decision,” explains Liz Riley Hargrove, Fuqua’s associate dean for admissions, “but when you’re getting down to the nitty-gritty and trying to factor in likelihood of matriculation, that’s the kind of thing we look at.” Some schools—such as MIT Sloan and Berkeley Hass—are foregoing such systems, with Rod Garcia, senior director of admissions at Sloan, citing concerns over becoming “an analytics outfit rather than educators.”

We at mbaMission cannot help but wonder whether the impetus to reach out to admissions offices will lead to greater quality or quantity of expressed student interest. If the latter, the schools may have a hard time weeding out disingenuous correspondences from among a flood of emails.

We recommend that applicants keep the bigger picture in mind, staying focused on strengthening their overall profile. Frequent contact will not necessarily help a weak applicant’s candidacy—though it may give an edge to one who is already strong.

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