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ApplyWire Reveals Class of 2020 Post-MBA Industry Preferences, Highly Competitive GMAT Scores

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As MBA applicants set their sights on top MBA programs, they have been sharing their target business schools, admissions stats, and post-MBA career goals in ApplyWire, Clear Admit’s latest admissions tool. As we’ve watched the entries roll in, we’ve recognized that they provide a unique early glimpse into the caliber of the most elite MBA applicants this year—offering insight into their qualifications, career plans, and school preferences. In this and subsequent posts, we plan to share some of the observations we’re drawing from the ApplyWire data.

Through ApplyWire, applicants can receive feedback from fellow applicants and Clear Admit experts when they post profile information, such as where they are applying and their pre-MBA career, GMAT score, GPA, work experience, and post-MBA goals. Since ApplyWire launched in July 2017, hundreds of prospective applicants have posted their plans, and today we’re taking a closer look at the data to identify trends in terms of what industries current applicants hope to enter as correlated to their target schools. Of course, since ApplyWire only recently launched, we should note that any conclusions are based on a small sample size and not necessarily reflective of the entire applicant pool.

The Industries Current Applicants Are Targeting
ApplyWire currently gives community members the ability to indicate their intended post-MBA plans from a range of industries including consulting, banking, and technology. We’ve sliced and diced the data to identify potential career trends among the latest group of MBA applicants, as well as overlap between where applicants choose to apply and which fields they ultimately hope to enter. Read on for some of our key takeaways.

Consulting Reigns Supreme
Consulting dominated as an intended career path for applicants to a dozen of the 18 top programs we analyzed. More than half of applicants to Northwestern / Kellogg and Dartmouth / Tuck report that they intend to target jobs in consulting after graduation, and between 40 and 49 percent of applicants to 10 other schools also cited consulting as a post-MBA goal.

Fifty-three percent of ApplyWire entries for Dartmouth / Tuck indicated consulting as a post-MBA choice. Northwestern / Kellogg was a close second, with 52 percent of prospective candidates ticking the post-MBA consulting box. Applicants to Wharton, Yale School of Management, INSEAD, Michigan / Ross, and Chicago Booth also expressed strong interest in consulting.

“It’s not surprising to see consulting at the top, especially at places like Kellogg, Tuck, and INSEAD, which are traditional consulting powerhouses,” says Clear Admit Co-Founder Graham Richmond. “At first, it might seem more surprising to see consulting also top the list of intended post-MBA careers for applicants to places like Wharton and Booth—historically recognized for their strength in finance. But the reality is that the MBA is a generalist’s degree, and consulting can be extremely broad in its focus.”

Technology is Tops at Berkeley / Haas and UCLA / Anderson
While interest in consulting outpaced interest in technology at most leading programs according to ApplyWire data, applicants to Berkeley / Haas and UCLA / Anderson proved the exception. Thirty-eight percent of those applying to Haas indicated technology as their post-MBA goal, compared to 33 percent who indicated consulting. Of applicants to Anderson, 42 percent expressed an interest in tech post-MBA, as compared to just 33 percent who cited consulting.

“The field of technology continues to be very attractive to those considering the MBA degree,” Richmond says. “Because the industry is constantly evolving, it presents many opportunities for MBA grads to make a real impact. Not only that, many schools are rapidly ramping up their offerings to meet this developing demand.” If you’re contemplating a career in technology and want to learn more about the MBA programs that send the most students into the field, see Clear Admit’s report, Tops for Tech: The Best Business Schools for Careers in Technology.

Interest in Banking Languishes
Investment banking—a top draw for MBA grads a decade ago—has lost its luster since the financial crisis of 2008. Today, only a small percentage of prospective MBA applicants cite banking as an intended post-MBA path. Indeed, at Wharton, known historically as a finance powerhouse, only 5 percent of ApplyWire respondents noted post-MBA banking plans. At Columbia Business School (CBS), interest was slightly higher. Of ApplyWire respondents applying to CBS, 13 percent indicated an interest in pursuing banking. But even this seems low when you take into account that school’s proximity to Wall Street.

“Banking, as an industry, continues to struggle to attract the MBA elite, despite the very attractive salaries on offer,” notes Richmond. “Not only has it failed to recover completely from the financial crisis of 2008, but it now faces stiff competition from the emerging technology sector, which is where more and more MBA grads want to be.”

Interestingly, one in five applicants to UVA / Darden shared on ApplyWire that banking is their intended career path—more than at any other program we examined. Of course, almost half of Darden applicants shared that they’re gunning for consulting gigs after graduation.

Overachieving on the GMAT
The average GMAT score self-reported by ApplyWire respondents is approximately 9 points higher than the mean GMAT score for the most recent incoming class as reported by the top 18 programs.

We discovered the greatest gaps between school-reported scores and scores reported to ApplyWire for applicants to the following schools: Michigan / Ross, INSEAD, Columbia Business School, and Dartmouth / Tuck. Applicants to Michigan / Ross reporting on ApplyWire averaged a GMAT score of 721, as compared to a mean score of 708 reported by the school for its most recent incoming class. At INSEAD, the reported average for incoming students this year was 707—also outdistanced by the ApplyWire reported score of 720 for current applicants to INSEAD. And the average scores for applicants to Columbia and Tuck as reported to ApplyWire—both  731—were a whopping 14 points higher than the average scores reported by the schools themselves for their latest enrolled classes.

ApplyWire Reveals Class of 2020 Post-MBA Industry Preferences, Highly Competitive GMAT Scores

On the other hand, applicants targeting Northwestern / Kellogg reported an average GMAT score to ApplyWire that is actually two points lower than the school’s published current median score of 732. Applicants to Yale SOM, for their part, seem right on target: Current applicants to Yale SOM report an average 730 GMAT score via ApplyWire, identical to SOM’s own published average for the current Class of 2019.

Are you looking for feedback on where to apply based on your applicant profile and/or intended career path? Share your plans in ApplyWire so your fellow applicants and Clear Admit experts can chime in with valuable insight.

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.