…. changing their data?!?!????
What is this?
EssaySnark keeps tabs on things like app volumes and GMAT scores reported by all the top schools, as a way to track trends in the industry and see what schools are currently in favor among applicants and which ones may be the “sleeper school” that can be surprisingly easy to break into — and which schools are actively working to make improvements to their offering, and which might be coasting a bit. Data is just what we do.
We’ve recently been pleased to see some schools be more forthcoming with more kinds of data about their student body, including a newish development of admissions teams disclosing GRE data on accepted applicants, and at a few schools, even some greater transparency in how many underrepresented minorities are in their incoming class. NYU has been particularly generous with publishing data, and a few other schools including Yale, Cornell, and others have also given more insight into their class on these helpful dimensions.
So needless to say, this is stuff we tend to track.
Imagine our surprise last week when we discovered some weird-a@@ discrepancies in the data we’ve captured over the years, compared to what Harvard Business School’s website was now showing.
Here’s what it WAS…
And here’s what their website has just been updated to…
Where did those additional 371 applications come from???
That was enough of an increase that it pushed the admit rate to 11% from 12%.
Where were these mysterious new applications hiding?
Were these a stack of files that had slipped behind some admissions director’s file cabinet and were only now uncovered when they moved offices?
Like what is UP with this?
This is one reason why we couldn’t in good conscience give HBS the Radcom of the Year Award last week. (That went to MIT, in case you were wondering.)
At first we thought maybe they had changed their reporting methodology and had previously excluded the HBS 2+2 applicants from the count of standard full-time applicants, and decided to retroactively put them together…. but this theory was debunked when we consulted our trusty database of school stats and were reminded that Harvard has been getting well over 1,000 applications for 2+2 every year since at least 2015. An increase of <400 is way too small to be representing this pool. They also are now reporting higher enrollment for the Class of 2015, from 1,838 to 1,865. Where did these 27 students come from? How had they been overlooked before? And how did these 27 new students cause the yield to increase from 89% to 91%? A school's "yield" is how many of the admitted applicants end up accepting the school's offer of admission and matriculate. Harvard has long had the highest yield in the industry, wavering only between 89% as a low and 91% as a high for ages and ages (with the exception of one outlier year, the Class of 2012, which our data show was 84% -- unless HBS is going to be restating their numbers of that one, too). The next-highest yielding school is Stanford and they typically only get like 84%, which is still a remarkable number of course. If you get into Stanford, you're likely going to go to Stanford -- unless you also got into HBS, or you go to tell your boss that you're going to bschool and she throws bucketloads of cash at you to get you to stay. Anyway. Back to Harvard and this data update. You sharp-eyed observers will have noted that it's not only the Class of 2015; they also updated the Classes of 2016 and 2017. We do know that for perhaps the first time in a generation, Harvard is feeling pressured from the competition of other MBA programs -- at least, to an extent. There aren't that many schools out there that can really claim to be peers of Harvard. If someone gets into HBS and Kellogg, it's 99% probability they choose HBS, even if Kellogg offers a sh!t-ton of scholarship money. Stanford and Wharton are really only the main players that are true contenders for this same set of applicants. It's never wise to sit on your laurels; there are plenty of case studies being taught at Harvard Business School that caution against hubris and the dangers of myopia that come with a leadership position. Stanford doesn't seem all too concerned about Harvard, though Wharton seems to have made it their mission to become the "best" business school as ranked by the well-known publications. Should Harvard be worried? Is that why they've revisited the numbers they reported and massaged the dataset being published on those recent classes? Who knows what's going on behind the scenes or where these newly-discovered students came from. Harvard is making a big push with their HBS Online initiative (formerly called HBX CORe) which is a real money-maker for the school. We've even had to comment on some questionable messaging they've used: https://twitter.com/EssaySnark/status/1069986689492357120 On the increasing numbers in their historical dataset: Yes, we realize that we could contact HBS admissions and ask what the deal is. But honestly, if you're restating your numbers on something so fundamental to how your organization is run, shouldn’t you at least put a darn asterisk on the page and explain it?
Or maybe nobody is supposedta notice or care.
Dunno. Leaves a bad taste in the mouth though.
We get enough reasons to distrust The Man today. Apparently EssaySnark was living under the illusion that the word “veritas” is supposed to mean something.