Why are so many business schools making significant changes to the admissions process?

Nov 5, 2012
Tags: Admissions Requirements, Applications

Niki da Silva, University of Toronto Rotman School of Management

Provided by Niki da Silva, Director, MBA Recruitment & Admissions, Full-Time MBA at Rotman School of Management.

There have been a number of top business schools announcing major changes to the traditional admissions process this year for a variety of reasons and I wanted to share some insight about why this is happening.  At the University of Toronto, we have also implemented a major change by shortening both the number and length of required essays and introducing a mandatory video essay component within our admissions process this year.  

The combination of an increasing influence and prevalence of admissions consultants, and the volume of blogs/message boards advice on presenting a profile that Schools are looking for have contributed to an environment that has become difficult to get an authentic picture of an applicant.  Schools have been re-thinking the various components of the admissions process, which have traditionally required several long essays followed by an admissions interview, that were initially valuable pieces of the process because they allowed candidates to start to showcase their unique passions, experiences, talents and abilities.

Showcase Your Talents

That core purpose of essays has been fading as candidates are increasingly submitting responses that all sound very similar and are perhaps what they believe Schools ‘want’ to hear.  So in response, our industry is innovating in an attempt to get back to the core of what makes a candidate unique and is using a variety of different formats and strategies within the application process to do this. 

In addition to showcasing an authentic picture of a candidate, different formats (beyond traditional essays) demonstrate and test skills that are far more relevant in today’s classrooms and boardrooms.  The pace of business has changed as we are enter this era of “Big Data” and candidates need to be able to solve complex problems in an innovative manner, and make decisions in real-time. It just isn’t possible to test these kinds of skills in a traditional essay.

I have been in this industry since 2005 and it is exciting to see the creativity and innovation that our top schools teach being applied to the processes we use to find top talent for our programs.  I hope prospective candidates use these new mediums as an opportunity to tell their stories – we are excited to hear them!