The acceptance rate of the super-selective Ivy League is extremely low. There is a record number of high school students who are applying for college straight out of high school – more than 60 percent, according to David Hawkins, director at the National Association of College Admission Counseling. Meantime, the number of students applying for college is increasing each year. According to the federal Department of Education, this year will feature the highest number of high school graduates, 3.2, almost a million up from five years ago.
Recent admission trends indicate that even though you have a high GPA and good or perfect SAT scores, it’s not a given that you’ll get admission to your first choice school, so it’s wise to have as many back-ups as you can to optimize the final result of your college application process without waiting for another entire year. As a matter of fact, many students are applying to as many as 10 or 15 universities. This is primarily attributed to the Common Application form, which can be downloaded from the Internet and sent online to as many as 300 schools nationwide.
However, the results of this survey of first-year college students is relieving: 70% of these students say that they ended up at their first choice school, and most students are ultimately happy with their choice of college. At first this may seem surprising, especially since schools like Yale accepted fewer than ten percent of the 20,000 students who applied last year, and both Harvard and Columbia accepted just more than 10 percent, but there are many reasons why students end up at specific schools, as both the students and the college make great endeavors to find a right fit.
Colleges want students that have excellent grades and SAT scores, but these criteria are frequently not the make-or-break factors that influence acceptance, particularly at highly selective schools. Colleges have to work hard to keep or make their good reputations, just like students, and therefore need to choose the right students. Unfortunately, sometimes that means that qualified students don’t get accepted to particular schools – but that does not mean that these students are any less qualified than before they got their thin envelope!
Colleges want specific and unique individuals to attend their schools, not walking transcripts! But since colleges probably won’t come looking for you (you’re probably not worried about being accepted to college if they are!), you need to find your special niche yourself.
Remember, even when you get accepted to the school of your dreams, no college acceptance letter guarantees a good education, a good job, or a happy life. Even if you make it to Harvard, there’s no guarantee that your life will be perfect.
Who Gets Accepted?
Today, more students than ever are applying for highly selective colleges; more students overall are planning on attending college after high school, and more successful students are seeking diplomas from big-name schools. This means that many highly-qualified candidates are rejected from the most selective schools. Can you believe…
- Students with perfect SAT scores
- Winners of famous, private scholarships
… all can get rejected from the most selective (and even less selective!) schools?
The Game Plan:
How can you increase your odds of acceptance into a school that is not only prestigious, but that will give you the best shot at an exemplary education? Research colleges thoroughly; sometimes colleges are just looking for someone very specific – an oboe player for the orchestra, a star quarterback for the football team, a speaker of Korean to help improve the language department, or a student council star to take over campus government.
Use your Interview to find out whether your specific skill set is particularly desired by a specific school. Your interview is not only a great way to make a good impression on the admissions officers, but also the easiest way to find out about the kind of students that each college needs. Come prepared, and don’t be afraid to ask very frank questions about the student body. It will not harm your chances; in fact, your serious interest in finding the best match for you can only reflect positively on your application.
A new trend among MBA students (one which might surprise you) has emerged in recent years. Many future business leaders are voluntarily pledging to act responsibly and ethically, to uphold truth and integrity, and to view businesses as more than just money-making organizations.
Interest in ethics courses and student activities concerned with corporate responsibility has significantly grown. Students at Columbia formed a Leadership and Ethics Board that holds lectures about business and ethics. Ten years ago, Wharton had one ethics class that was required. Now, there are seven professors teaching several ethics course offerings that are popular among students. Wharton has also had the Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research since 1997.
Recent graduates are growing more concerned with corporate social responsibility. This is not to say that graduates will not be interested in high-paying jobs at big companies, but they’ll think about how they earn their income and how corporations impact the environment, the community, and their employees’ quality of life.
So who’s taking the pledge, and how? Here are examples of how students at two of the top business schools are promising to be ethical in business.
- Around 20 percent of Harvard Business School’s graduating class have signed “The MBA Oath,” a voluntary pledge to act responsibly and ethically in business practices.
- Students at Columbia Business School must pledge to an honor code that states: “As a lifelong member of the Columbia Business School community, I adhere to the principles of truth, integrity, and respect. I will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.”
Most of us think that getting a management education simultaneously means earning an MBA and accumulating a large amount of debt in student loans. Inspired by a recent article from BusinessWeek which challenged this notion with a report on full-tuition fellowships, we performed extensive research and data collection on our own and summarized our findings in three segments.
Today, we will present key data of full-tuition fellowships from many of the top US management programs including Berkeley’s Haas, Columbia, and University of Chicago. In the next two articles, we will cover major non-US schools.
During your application process, do not overlook these fellowships. Many schools usually require one extra essay or interview to be eligible for a two-year, full-tuition fellowship. The list of fellowships at the schools below may surprise you.
University of Chicago
Number of fellowships awarded to 2008 entering class: 11
Average class size for full-time MBA program: 550
How to apply: Most admitted applicants are automatically considered at the time of the application, but many have additional required interviews as part of the final selection process. All of the fellowships have a mentoring component.
Number of fellowships awarded to 2008 entering class: About 25
Average class size: 1,196
How to apply: Automatically considered with application
Number of fellowships awarded to 2008 entering class: 25
Average class size: 918
How to apply: Scholarships are awarded based on financial need. To apply, complete and submit a financial aid application upon admission
California Berkeley Haas
Number of fellowships awarded to 2008 entering class: 14
Average class size: 250
How to apply: For most of the fellowships, students automatically quality with application. For one particular fellowship, an additional essay is required.
Number of fellowships awarded to 2008 entering class: 10-12
Average class size: 375
How to apply: Automatic consideration with application
Number of fellowships awarded to 2008 entering class: 10
Average class size: 825
How to apply: Selection is based on the a number of criteria such as personal background, leadership, and integrity. Students who fit the criteria must complete a separate financial aid form.
Number of fellowships awarded to 2008 entering class: 61
Average class size: 632
How to apply: All admitted applicants are considered. For one fellowship, a separate application is required
Number of fellowships awarded to 2008 entering class: 11
Average class size: 180
How to apply: All applicants are considered for merit scholarships
The bottom line is that it is definitely worthwhile to perhaps write an extra essay if it means earning a savings of $200,000 for your education. For many of the fellowships, all admitted applicants qualify.
For a list of more business schools that offer full-tuition fellowships, please refer to this insightful article in BusinessWeek.
While the discussion may be less heated than in recent years, grade disclosure and the associated policies are relevant to MBA students. The debate consists of the following arguments for and against grade disclosure:
- Grade non-disclosure policies (GND) enhance student collaboration and promote extra curricular activities which in turn promote networking opportunities
- Grade disclosure policies (GD) promote rigorous academics. When grades “do not matter,” students may become lazy and the atmosphere may become less competitive
In most circumstances, the supporters of GND are the student bodies, and the supporters of GD are the professors and administrators. The majority of America’s top B-schools seem to have either a GD or voluntary GD policy, where students may share grades with potential employers voluntarily. Now, let’s look at the four schools’ policies and the debate surrounding them:
University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
Wharton, a member of the top three B-schools on many lists, seems to house the most heated grade policy debate. Prior to 1998, the school had a GD, but the student body overwhelmingly supported a GND. The logic behind those opinions follows pretty closely the logic above. Amazingly, during a 2006 vote to amend the school’s policy, students voted in favor of GND by 94%, with 84% participation.
Wharton has adopted a voluntary disclosure policy, where students are free to share their grades, but are not required to.
Harvard’s grade disclosure policy is especially interesting due to their somewhat unorthodox grading system. As of 2005, students are free to discuss grades in job interviews or other circumstances with potential employers. The administrators have stated that this policy makes them consistent with other business schools and undergraduate programs, as well as the rest of Harvard University. As stated earlier, grade disclosure is designed to promote high quality academics. According to an article in the Harvard Crimson, a school official stated that disclosing grades is also consistent with being a successful business leader: businesses are constantly trying to quantify progress, development and develop ways to measure their performance.
Harvard’s grading system may also necessitate GD being implemented. Harvard’s grading system works by using three categories, rather than an A-F scale. Approximately 75% of HBS students occupy category II status, with the rest occupying category 1 (top tier) and 3 (bottom of the class). The combination of “grades not mattering” and Harvard’s grading system could be deadly to academic morale: the likelihood of being in category 1 is so slim that students may as well just stick with category 2. On the other hand, it is unlikely that they will fail out, which means many MBA students can squeeze by.
Stanford’s administration does not have a particular policy, but the student body policy is non-disclosure. There is an astonishing 99% compliance rate among students.
Both sides of the grade disclosure debate have sound arguments and valid points. It also seems that the only possible compromise is the one that some schools have already put into effect: a policy of voluntary disclosure. The students who feel that it is within their right to withhold grades from employers are free to do so. If the employer demands such information (which they may) the student will have a difficult choice to make, one that very closely reflects many decisions – operational, managerial, and ethical – made in the business world: How do I optimize the result with minimal compromise?
On one hand, grades are an important indicator of one’s personal achievement. However, on the other hand, how you translate your learning into behaviors and actions in real life is a better indicator of both achievement and character.
Maybe grade disclosure should carry more importance in college than graduate schools. Different majors should put different level of emphasis on grade disclosure as well. The grade disclosure policy could vary depending on course types, i.e., cores vs. electives.
Graduate business schools focus on practical knowledge and skills, not pure arts or science. A student’s integral ability should have a higher correlation to his/her future success. Certain qualities can not be quantified by grades, in particular, managerial talents such as decision-making abilities, sound judgment, ability to outperform in face of adversity and leadership. Nonetheless, analytical abilities can certainly be tested out and measured by grades.
During the recent two years, many business schools have revamped or retooled the curriculum of their MBA programs . This is designed to better prepare students to manage and thrive on new challenges in an ever-changing global business world through a more profound intellectual experience and more effective training on leadership development. These modifications allow students to customize their MBA programs with a greater selection of electives, an increased number of half-semester core courses, more exchange programs for studying aboard, smaller classes, a closer integration of in-person and online class participation, and more week-long intensive courses.
Deeper, Smaller, Broader
So what are those key improvements? In a nutshell, MBA curriculums have been remodeled in 4 major aspects:
1.) Content – More real-world relevant courses, more interdisciplinary courses (such as legal and international relations courses), and more collaborative effort – Harvard Business School, for example, offers the opportunity to cross-register for courses in other select graduate programs. So do many other top business schools. More extra-curricular lectures from business professionals and on-site projects with corporations or governments.
2.) Configuration – Broader spectrum of electives allow you to construct your own study program and make your B-school academic experience unique. The weight of core courses as requirements for the degree is lowering. Many core courses are also offered in half-semesters to let you take many different courses within a semester’s time. For example, about half of Columbia Business School’s core courses are half-semester.
3.) Delivery – More high-tech equipped classrooms with more frequent use of the Internet. Smaller class sizes. Classes are taught in seminars that maximize active participation and deeper intellectual involvement. More courses are taught by two or more faculty members as a team.More interaction with faculty advisors. For example, at Stanford Graduate School of Business, your faculty advisor partners with you to select the courses that fit with your personal background and interests.
4.) Format – New curriculum models. For example, Yale’s MBA program did away with the traditional self-contained subject courses such as marketing, finance, and organizational behavior. Instead it starts to offer an Integrated Leadership Perspective course focusing on managing internal and external parties such as all levels of employees, customers, competitors, and investors. The goal is to tie together all that students learned in the first year in a holistic manner.
What prompted these changes?
Many top-rated business schools had not developed new MBA programs in nearly 30 years. Why all the changes now?The major reason for the changes is one framework of business education simply won’t work anymore. Interdisciplinary studies and experience-based learning foster the kind of creativity, leadership, problem-solving skills, critical and independent thinking, business ethics, and cultural sensitivity necessary to succeed in real-world business.
The impact of the dot-com era and an increasingly dynamic, global economy are two main catalysts for curriculum changes. MBA programs now incorporate more courses specifically geared toward e-commerce, digital media, and information technology. Programs also look beyond textbooks to incorporate more interactive learning into the classroom. The growing significance of communication in a global context also translates into a stronger emphasis on foreign language study and traveling abroad within MBA curriculum.
Finally, many top business schools have changed due to new dean and program director appointments in the past few years. These new personnel bring years of experiences, fresh perspectives, and great initiatives to instill new energy into well-established institutions in a competitive and adaptive MBA education world.
What Is Required of the Schools?
To take the program to the next level, those schools need significant funding from their respective parent institutions to support new facility, new equipment, increase in faculty and more. Both Stanford and Columbia are in the midst of expanding their business school campuses.As we can see, a lot of more work is ahead for all the top institutions. To educate next century’s business leaders, all the business schools need to stay at the forefront of the changes.
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