2020 BUSINESS SCHOOL APPLICATION TRENDS
Another business school application cycle is winding down, and people are starting to craft their candidacies for the next early rounds. Here are my predictions about business school application trends.

Only Applying to More Selective Schools
In general, applicants are winnowing their lists and often applying exclusively to the most selective schools. There is also a renewed focus on rankings, with many candidates refusing to consider programs outside of the “M7.” This business school application trend is likely fueled in part by recent stories that have highlighted the decline in business school applications, leading people to believe that top tier schools are more accessible than in years past. (In my opinion, in reality this isn’t the case, as the average candidate is still exceptionally well qualified.) Nevertheless, the perception is that HBS, Stanford, Wharton, Sloan, etc. have drastically lowered their numeric standards, causing people to create narrow target lists.

Prioritizing Cost
Applicants are also being very conservative when they calculate the potential return on investment. Increasingly, candidates are reluctant to matriculate without scholarships, even to top schools. This is especially true for people in well compensated jobs who see their supervisors excelling without MBA’s. This was always true to some extent, and ROI is a factor for the majority of applicants. However, the decline in applications, coupled with the well-publicized fact that many of the top 15 schools have recently increased their scholarship budgets, is creating a bigger pool of students who won’t consider enrolling without merit aid.

Taking the GRE or the Executive Assessment
Good news for those of you who struggle with the GMAT: there are now more options than ever. As I’ve written before, there are compelling reasons to take the GRE, which has been widely accepted for many years. New this past cycle is the introduction of the Executive Assessment as an option for applicants to the full-time program at NYU. (The Executive Assessment is a shorter, by most reports easier, version of the GMAT, that has historically been accepted by some part-time and executive programs.) Expect more full-time schools to follow NYU during the upcoming business school admissions cycle by including the Executive Assessment as a valid testing option.

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Karen Marks

Karen has more than 12 years of experience evaluating candidates for admission to Dartmouth College and to the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Since founding North Star Admissions Consulting in 2012, she has helped applicants gain admission to the nation’s top schools, including Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Wharton, MIT, Tuck, Columbia, Kellogg, Booth, Haas, Duke, Johnson, Ross, NYU, UNC, UCLA, Georgetown and more. Clients have been awarded more than 20 million dollars in scholarships, and more than 97% have gotten into one of their top choice schools.