Key takeaways from AIGAC’s 2014 MBA applicant survey

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Key takeaways from AIGAC’s 2014 MBA applicant survey

businessSchoolThe Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants, otherwise known as AIGAC, recently released their annual survey of MBA applicants. The test revealed quite a few interesting data points. For the past five years, AIGAC has been gathering data from applicants all across the world to gain insight into the state of the MBA admissions process.

Interestingly, about 43% of students said they had been asked to write their own recommendation at least once. Applicants also mentioned the “onerous” recommendation system as one of the things that applicants would like admission committees to know about the admission process. This tallies with the high level of support that applicants have shown so far for the decision of several top business schools to create a common recommendation system.

The survey also found that school and program websites were by far the most important source of information for students, followed by rankings, alumni and current students, in-person school visits, and MBA resource websites. Among the top schools, students felt that Dartmouth Tuck and Duke Fuqua “got to know them best” during the admissions process. UCLA and HBS were the bottom two.

However, some of the most interesting insights on the survey came from the differences between international applicants and U.S. applicants:

  • 62% of those in the U.S. who completed one or more applications with a video component felt that the video had represented them well, but approximently 50% of international students said the same. International students, especially non-native speakers, have reported feeling less comfortable with the lack of feedback that video interviews provide.
  • Applicants abroad tend to prefer the business school rankings from the Financial Times, while U.S. students were more likely to rely on Businessweek and US News and World Report.
  • The majority of U.S. students are not considering self-employment, as opposed to 38% of international students who said that they did not plan to be self-employed after they finished their MBA.
  • The median income of U.S. applicants was nearly twice as high as that of applicants abroad ($82k vs. $43k), and a similar disparity existed when students were asked about what income they expected to receive after graduation.
  • About 60% of U.S. applicants said that they wanted to stay in the U.S. after graduation, while about 20% of foreign applicants reported that they only wanted to work in the U.S. after graduation. Approximately a third of U.S. applicants said that they would be open to working in either the U.S. or other countries, while 60% of international applicants said the same. About 20% of foreign students said that they did not plan to stay in the U.S. after graduation.
  • About 26% of U.S. applicants that were open to working abroad expressed interest in working for themselves. Only 16% of students who planned to stay in the U.S. said the same.

The MBA applicant pool continues to become more international, and the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) reports that about 60% of GMAT test-takers are from outside the US. There are some ways in which international students, particularly non-native speakers, appoach business school admissions differently than U.S. students, and it remains to be seen how that will affect the business school application process.

The complete findings from the survey can be found here.

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