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Changes in admissions

Business schools do revise their MBA applications now and then. Two current examples are Wharton, which has added an essay question and Insead, which has launched a new video component. Fortuna Admissions, a consultancy that advises students during the business school application process, has written about the new features in its blogs.

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A new essay for Wharton

Let’s look at Wharton first: Contrary to many other business schools which have cut back in terms of essays in the past years, the US school is going the opposite way, adding a second piece of writing to its existing 500 word essay. This essay about “What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA” is now accompanied by another topic, “Teamwork is at the core of the Wharton MBA experience with each student contributing unique elements to our collaborative culture. How will you contribute to the Wharton community?” This second essay is supposed to have about 400 words.

This second essay marks exactly what Wharton is searching for in their students and why the school has a team discussion for their interview: They look for individuals that are able to hold their own, but are also keen and capable of interaction, collaboration, team-work and sharing.

According to the Fortuna consultants the admission team wants the applicants “to showcase not only what they have learned from their past leadership and collaborative experiences, but also what it is about their own background that would make an individualized contribution to the whole.”
In the essay applicants should discuss:

  • their view of the collaborative culture

  • the academic, extra-curricular and interpersonal opportunities they see, particularly as Wharton is one of 12 schools at the University of Pennsylvania

  • and how they can contribute from their own experiences.

Due to the additional essay topic, the “optional essay” only needs to be picked up if a candidate needs to explain weaknesses in his or her CV like a gap in employment, a challenging personal situation, lower college grades, or lower GMAT scores.

A video component for Insead

The second school which has slightly changed its application process is Insead. The international business school with campuses in France, Abu Dhabi and Singapore has decided to use different media and has added a video component to its MBA application.

In the new video component applicants need to answer four questions instead of writing an essay on cultural diversity as have their predecessors. According to discussion between Fortuna Admissions and the business school’s admission team the team wants to observe candidates much more directly. As Insead doesn’t have traditional interviews where admissions staff talk to the candidate but works with alumni who interview applicants, the school obviously felt it had not enough opportunity to get to know candidates.

Videos should change this and give staff a first idea of how a candidate interacts and how his or her communication skills are – in terms of presentation as well as in language skills (the program is run in English). They will also help to determine which way to go if candidates have divergent feedback from their two different interviews with two different alumni for example.

As the school dropped the 300 word-essay “Tell us about an experience where you were significantly impacted by cultural diversity, in a positive or negative way”, it can be expected that this will now be evaluated in the video component.

Overall, candidates will be asked four not yet known questions via a video link after the applicant has submitted an application (within an hour) – displayed on the dashboard of the applicant and sent via email. Applicants can record their video any time within the following week, therefore completing the application. Should any major problems arise like unexpected noise or the video turns out to be a disaster, Insead can reset answers to one or all 4 questions.

Read more at Fortuna Admissions

  • ThumbnailINSEAD
    Full-time MBA, Executive MBA
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