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Clear Admit Featured in Financial Times Article on Changing MBA Admissions

Clear Admit’s own Graham Richmond was featured as part of an article this week in the Financial Times about changes taking place this admissions season at several top business schools. The article, entitled “The Creative Route to an MBA,” highlighted the shift at several top MBA programs toward requiring fewer essays from applicants, among other changes.

Several top schools, including Harvard Business School (HBS), Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, will require applicants to submit fewer essays as part of the application process than in years past. Clear Admit’s Richmond told the FT that he believes this is part of a trend by top programs to shift emphasis away from the essays and toward the interview portion of the application process.

Admissions directors at HBS and Stanford acknowledge declined emphasis on the essay portion of the application process. “I think and I’ve said this before, this isn’t an essay-writing contest,” HBS Managing Director for Admissions Dee Leopold told the FT. Derrick Bolton, MBA admissions director at Stanford, thinks a shift toward fewer essays is just the beginning. “Schools are finally beginning to catch up with the world around them. I think you’ll see a lot more changes in the next four or five years,” he told the FT.

To Richmond’s point that schools are putting greater emphasis instead on the interview, HBS this year will invite candidates who interview to submit a memo reflecting on that interview within 24 hours. Wharton, meanwhile, will introduce a group interview for the first time.

According to the FT report, school officials maintain that the changes are designed to better match Generation Y applicants, though there is some speculation that they may also be part of an effort to combat the application volume drop-off that many schools have seen in recent years.

The application process may not be the only aspect of the MBA program to face change. Though some top schools argue that a one-year MBA degree isn’t sufficient to cover the required curriculum and lacks the important summer internship, other schools have begun to recognize that application volume among one-year programs is on the rise. Kellogg, one of the few top U.S. programs that has both one- and two-year programs, reports that applications to the one-year program have increased by 10 to 11 percent over the past two years, while those to the two-year program have fallen by almost as much, according to the FT.

“In this economy, where candidates are a bit more ROI-conscious, they may think a one-year program is enough for what they need,” Richmond told the FT.

Read the complete Financial Times article, “The Creative Route to an MBA.”