We often stay in touch with certain former BSers as they go through the actual GOAL of this whole process and launch into their MBA adventure, and it’s so helpful and interesting to get reports back from the field. One comment from a current student in a recent private exchange with us is worth sharing:…
Dang. You didn’t make it in. BUT WHY???
Most schools are explicit with a no-feedback policy. All decisions are final, and they’re unable to talk to you about it because they don’t have the bandwidth to field all of those calls.
But some schools are much more generous with their time and attention and encouragement.
For example, if you didn’t make it in to Darden, they’ve often offered the chance to get feedback in case you want to reapply. Usually they make this available in June (mark your calendar now!).
Only a few schools do this. In the past, HBS would do it if they interviewed you and/or put you on the waitlist before rejecting you, though they don’t advertise this policy very loudly and we’re not clear if it’s a one-off thing or a standing offer that they’ll continue to make available if you ask. Tuck will do it too. Yale does it. We understand that Berkeley-Haas is no longer doing it, which is a bummer.
If you go for one of these feedback sessions, just manage expectations. The stuff they say tends to be pretty standard. Unless you’re one of those super qualified candidates who just couldn’t break into bschool this year because there were too many others in your pool, then the adcom is more likely than not going to tell you stuff that you should already know. By the time you go for a feedback session, then hopefully will be able to predict what the admissions person is going to tell you. You should have a sense based on profile self-assessment (or a simple comparison to the school’s class profile) what the issues are. If your college academics are not that strong, or if your GMAT is a little low, then that’s what your adcom person will say. Predictable.
They may also tell you if your essays weren’t up to snuff. Maybe.
Generally speaking, the reports we hear back from BSers who ask for one of these feedback sessions are largely the same. The value of such calls is usually a bit limited. The adcoms aren’t going to tell you REALLY why you were rejected (especially not if the reason was the you came across like a jerk in your app in some way, or if your recommenders did not say nice things about you – it’s unusual but it happens, and these reasons will definitely not be directly disclosed). The adcom peeps are more likely than not going to give you some vague comments about how you’re qualified but it’s competitive, yada yada yada.
It can still be useful to go through the experience but honestly, you hopefully by this stage of the game have done enough self-reflecting and gone back over your candidacy in a more objective light, that you are aware of the deficiencies that may have been in evidence. And, even more hopefully, you’re already taking steps to fix them, in preparation for the coming Round 1 season.
We’re of course always up for taking a look at rejected apps – we have the formal Post-Mortem (aka “Oh noz!!”) review where we go into great detail on every aspect of your application. Or you can just get the Comprehensive Profile Review which lets you understand how things may be perceived by the adcoms in the upcoming cycle.
We do still appreciate the schools that do this. It’s certainly an attempt to be more transparent, and it’s an applicant-friendly policy. But it’s kind of like when someone is breaking up with you; it’s possible you’re going to get some variation of, “It’s not you, it’s me” – or maybe, “It’s not you, it’s your test score.” Sometimes people need to hear that directly from A Person In Power before they’ll decide to actually do something about it, so if you’re skeptical of the assessments you’ve heard elsewhere, then definitely get some time on the calendar with your friendly admissions person and see what they say. No matter what, it shows that you are motivated, and if you reapply then they will see that you took advantage of this opportunity, which can only be a positive.
Also, there are some schools that offer such conversations at the beginning of the process, before you even put together your application to submit. Schools like HEC Paris and certain tracks at Duke (e.g. the Cross-Continent MBA) and also many EMBA programs invite candidates to reach out and connect with their admissions teams for a detailed discussion in advance of applying. Typically how it works is you submit your resume to them and then schedule a call where they talk about that specific program and how you might be a fit. Sometimes they’ll steer you to another of the degree programs that that school offers, but often it’ll be a way to encourage you to apply to that program specifically. It’s a high-touch approach that they find valuable, since it lets them start to build the relationship and gain exposure to what they offer, and it can be great for you as a potential applicant since they even sometimes coach candidates or steer them in a better direction on issues like which test (GRE or GMAT or for EMBA, Executive Assessment) and what type of score would be needed. This is more common for some of the European full-time programs; it’s not something that most of the top U.S. schools offer since they don’t have the ability to meet all the demand that they would have for it. Be sure to dig through all the pages of your school’s website to see about such opportunities, and if an admissions team offers it, then jump on the chance.
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Happy Groundhog Day, Brave Supplicant! To continue with our Round 3 Reality Check series, today we’ll talk about programs that might be in range for an admit even at this stage of the season. In case you missed them: What about Round 3? To Round 3 or not to Round 3 Who / what situations…
Hey BSers! We’re reblahgging this from 2015 because dang, that was three years ago, and this info is timely for where some of you are at today!!!
And yes, we realize that those answers were unsatisfying to many of you.
“You’re telling me to WAIT, EssaySnark?? Why in heck would I want to WAIT? I procrastinated my way to this point where I missed out on my prime opportunity to apply – but now I realize that that was a mistake! Now I know that I **NEED** to go to bschool. Now I’m ready to do this thing! Why on earth would I WAIT??”
There are in fact a few other options to consider at this time of year. Here are ones for you to consider.
1. A lower-ranked program often still has openings in Round 3.
You don’t even need to go too far down the rankings to find a program that could still be open to an app from you. While we don’t encourage it, we have seen people make it into Cornell, Ross and Darden with a last-round application. If you’re even more flexible (and you have a halfway-decent profile) then a school like Georgetown or USC or Vanderbilt should be in range. It depends on your priorities, and of course on the school. We talked about some bschools where Round 3 is viable before.
2. INSEAD has multiple intakes and rolling admissions.
This means that they sometimes have openings during parts of the season when other schools are full. The more competitive candidate pools will not have the best shot in any INSEAD Round 3 but depending, again, on your profile, there could be an opportunity for you to try for INSEAD right now.
3. LBS also has four rounds – so Round 3 is possible for them.
You’re good to go with a Round 3 on any school that has four rounds. LBS is the main hold-out among top schools that still does this (besides INSEAD but they have a year-round apps, rather than the standard September/October to March/April season). NYU also now has four rounds but their schedule is more like Tuck and Duke, where they all have three deadlines in the timeframe where their peers have two. Anyway: Yes to LBS. It is definitely more competitive than their Round 2 but it’s doable, and you have some time remaining before that date hits, too.
4. Part-time programs are often not yet at capacity. Same with Executive MBAs.
These programs are often still accepting candidates through the summer, and Round 3 is nearly always still feasible. We discussed possible programs where a Round 3 app might work previously.
5. If your profile is ah-maz-ing, you could still make it into a top school.
The problem with this advice is that few people understand what “ah-maz-ing” really means. You can check out our posts here on the blahg about “the Harvard type” as a hint – you need to have a profile that’s near that caliber even if you’re trying for a school like lowly old Tuck in the last round. If you want some guidance on whether you’re all that (or not) – or just get a sense of what you should really be focusing on right now – you can go for our Late Season Strategy Review to get some help on evaluating your chances. And of course, our little booklet-thing called Everything You Need to Know about a Round 3 Application lays all of this out for you in greater detail.
The most important consideration when you’re thinking about applying now: Will it mess up your chances next season if you end up as a reapplicant? That’s a real risk (we go into all of it in the Round 3 booklet). You need to be looking at your cross-season strategy right now. It may seem like you’ve got nothing to lose to submit a bunch of apps at the tail end of the admissions season but that’s not actually how reality works. You need to consider your options carefully.
But yes, every year we see BSers squeak in under the wire in Round 3. We don’t recommend it but if you play your cards right, it can happen. Mostly we see people NOT get in, so don’t get your hopes up too terribly much – but we’re around to help if you want to do the Hail Mary!!!
Obviously you already know that EMBA means “Executive MBA.”
The “E” does not stand for “Exclusive.”
However in terms of selectivity and difficulty of admission, landing a spot at an EMBA even at one of the most highly regarded business schools is STILL DIFFICULT!
No, it’s not nearly at the same level of difficulty as it is for a full-time program. It’s just not.
But it’s also something to be proud of, if you’re able to pull it off.
We did a whole series last year around this time on the option of the Executive MBA and how that might be the right way to go for certain BSers who have struggled to make it into a top full-time program, and yeah, we just covered this a few weeks ago too. But it keeps coming up, so we thought we’d do it again.
It may feel like a kick in the gut when you see all those applicants on the MBA forums celebrating their interview invitations, and your inbox remains stubbornly empty.
But there are multiple paths to the same goal.
It’s not a badge of shame to try for an EMBA instead. Getting into an EMBA is still competitive. It’s still not something that just anybody can pull off (at least, not to the top universities). Sure, there are some schools out there where all you need is a pulse and a GMAT score and they’ll take you. The EMBA tracks at schools like Columbia and Booth and NYU and UC-Berkeley and Wharton are definitely not in that category.
So what’s more important to you? Being validated that you’re “good enough” (whatever that means, in this crazy-competitive era) for a two-year full-time program? Or going to an excellent school that will give you the same education — and the same exact credential — as its more highly selective sister?
It’s all a matter of perspective.
As we say all the time, the MBA is what you make of it.
Five years down the road, we can guarantee you that ain’t nobody gonna care that you got into a program that had an “E” in front of its name.
Every now and then we run into a BSer who’s bound and determined to go for the full-time two-year MBA at an American business school. Nothing wrong with that! It’s quite the experience and opportunity! Who would NOT want to take two years’ vacation from life and go off and study fun business courses in a new location?
Totally get it.
A problem sometimes arises when this bound-and-determinedness is coming from someone who’s significantly older, and especially when it’s someone who has some glitches and flaws in the profile that makes it a challenge to attract the attention of the adcoms at these top schools.
We’re not saying that there’s a cutoff in age for a full-time MBA. But we are saying that that program is designed for a particular phase of life, and stage of career, and if you’re outside the norm by too much, then it’s just going to be harder to break in. That is, unless you have so much going for you in so many other ways of distinction and differentiation that the adcoms just can’t say no to you.
But that rarely happens.
We did a mini-series of posts here on the blahg in February 2016 talking about why EMBA is a four-letter word, and we understand the bias against it. However we sometimes see BSers who misunderstand what the differing opportunities are about. There are many valid reasons for why someone might be a better fit to one type of MBA program versus another. The real risk that you have when your profile looks more like the standard Executive MBA student’s profile, and you’re trying for a regular full-time MBA, is that as much as you might want to insist to the adcoms that the full-time track is the one you want, it’s up to them to decide if you have demonstrated that fit appropriately or not.
We sometimes see people banging their head against the full-time wall, trying over and over again at various and sundry schools, and racking up reject after reject. There are four possible options to pursue when that happens:
1. Step back and identify WHY you belong in the standard full-time track, and make that an integral part of your pitch
2. Examine your targets and consider applying to the next lower tier of school
3. Look for a top bschool in another geography
4. Switch gears completely and consider Executive MBA instead
The American schools are the most competitive, and the full-time tracks the most of all. But there’s plenty of schools out there, and plenty of programs. If you are targeting an ex-U.S. program then what is a very competitive the-odds-are-stacked-against-you profile may suddenly become an applicant in demand.
It really depends on your priorities.
Many part-time and Executive MBA programs get the bulk of their applications late in the season, mostly because of people in exactly this position: They originally try for the F/T tracks in the early rounds of the season and get squeezed out, and then look for their options later on since they really want to go to bschool. It’s not impossible to get into one of these non-full-time programs towards the end of the cycle. If you feel you could fit in with the EMBA cohort at a top bschool then it’s definitely not too late to start putting those plans in place.
If you’ve been talking to certain Executive MBA admissions people just recently and you’re early in the process of applying, then it’s possible that they may have suggested that you take the new Executive Assessment instead of the GMAT or the GRE.
Oooh how appealing! You don’t have to take the GMAT?!?? That sounds GREAT!
And it might be – provided you’re interested in a specific (very specific) type of MBA.
What is the Executive Assessment and how is it different?
The Executive Assessment is just as it sounds: It’s a standardized test that’s very similar to the GMAT but – just like an executive summary is a condensed version of an entire lengthy report that captures only the essence of a topic, the Executive Assessment is a much shorter version. Here’s the introduction to the Executive Assessment on mba.com . This is the breakdown of the Executive Assessment compared to the GMAT that you all know and (ahem) love.
|Integrated Reasoning||12 questions
|Analytical Writing Assessment||1 topic
Whoo-wee, only like a third of the quant questions? SIGN ME UP!
The Executive Assessment is 90 minutes long, compared to the 3-hour GMAT.
Before you get too excited there’s two very significant limitations (besides the fact that the Executive Assessment is also a bit more expensive than the GMAT, but we assume that’s not a dealbreaker for anyone):
- The Executive Assessment is only accepted by Executive MBA programs. For most of you, this will never serve as substitute for the GMAT. We’ve not heard of any “regular” MBA, whether full-time or accelerated, that has even expressed interest in accepting it, and we doubt we ever will. You’ll need to make friends with the GMAT (or GRE) if you’re interested in any of these standard (read: competitive) MBA tracks.
- As of this writing (October 2016) the Executive Assessment is only accepted by a small number of schools. It’s in limited deployment to a short list that includes Columbia EMBA, Booth EMBA, Darden EMBA, and some international programs like INSEAD and LBS – but not every EMBA adcom is taking it yet. That will undoubtedly change, however if you’re applying for an EMBA this year, then you need to be very very thoughtful before going the Exec Assmt route. (UPDATE JUNE 2017: In the US, UCLA Anderson, Berkeley-Haas and Vanderbilt now also take the EA for their EMBA programs. UPDATE AUGUST 2071: MIT Sloan Fellows now also accepts it.)
Why? Because you’re by definition limiting your options. If you take it for School X but later decide to apply to School B, then you would need to start over with the GMAT.
Say you currently live in the New York area. You’re looking around for an MBA program that allows you to stay at your job while you go to school. There are only a small handful of choices in the region.
|F/T MBA||P/T MBA||EMBA|
Admission to each of those programs entails varying degrees of difficulty based on their respective competitiveness factors. It may be very tempting to just say that Columbia is your first choice and do the Executive Assessment – and Columbia has some excellent EMBA options, including various formats which can accommodate different schedules based on how much flexibility your employer is granting you.
Columbia EMBA is not the most competitive program around but we have seen people apply there (before meeting us) and get turned away. So it’s not like you can just waltz in and expect to be accepted. That’s even more so the case for Wharton EMBA. It’s nearly as difficult to get into that program as it is for Wharton full-time. (Well, not quite, but it’s nothing like admissions to some other top schools’ EMBA tracks.)
Presumably NYU Stern will begin accepting the Executive Assessment in the future but for the current admissions season, EssaySnark’s understanding is that that’s not going to happen. If you’re applying now – in 2016 or early 2017 – then it’s a short list of EMBAs where the Executive Assessment will play .
If you’re at the start of the process of applying for an MBA and you are a fit to an executive format MBA in other ways – mostly based on your seniority and level of work experience – then double-check the schools that you’re interested in. If it’s only one school, and one program, and they’ve been pushing the Executive Assessment on you, then sure, it may be a good choice.
But if you’re just looking at Columbia EMBA because a) it’s Columbia (yeah, we know, that whole Ivy League allure) and b) it’s a part-time format that lets you keep your job and c) you’ve heard it’s easier to get in… Those are all legit reasons, but we have met more than one BSer for whom we were convinced a full-time MBA was actually a much better opportunity. If that type of BSer dives head first into the Executive Assessment without doing proper research and understanding the landscape then they will be limiting themselves to a very narrow set of options.
We’ve seen this happen before. Sometimes people start their school research by focusing on the EMBA based on doubts about their profile or because they only want to go part time, and then later realize that no, they actually are more interested in the full-time MBA. And boy that would suck if you already went through the trouble and cost of doing the Executive Assessment and can’t use it on your apps.
The EMBA admissions people at the schools that take the Executive Assessment are actively promoting this option, because it’s truly a positive for many. The GMAT is a significant hurdle for lots of candidates who are thinking about trying for an MBA, and it deters plenty of the more senior applicants especially from ever applying. Kellogg does not even require the GMAT for their EMBA applicants which is a fairly extreme position to take (basically if you have a pulse and you do a decent job on your essays you’ll be able to find a home in the Kellogg EMBA family – yes we’re exaggerating but not by much).
If you’re in the Midwest and looking at an EMBA, then you may have a bit more wriggle room in going for the Executive Assessment as your test strategy. That’s because of what we just stated:
- Kellogg EMBA does not even require the GMAT (usually)
- Neither does Michigan Ross (again, usually; sometimes they ask for it)
- Chicago Booth EMBA accepts the Executive Assessment (along with the GMAT and GRE)
So, if you take the Executive Assessment for Booth, and you’re also applying to an EMBA program that does not require the GMAT of all applicants, you may be able to use the Exec Assmt to your benefit. This is an untested theory but we are guessing that you might be able to get away with submitting your unofficial Executive Assessment report to the adcom in support of your candidacy to Kellogg or Ross EMBA, even though they’re not technically partners with the GMAC on this pilot.
Mostly what all of this boils down to is: Test your theories.
If you’re interested in the EMBA, then ask yourself: WHY? Is it based only on the flexible format? Is it because you’ve heard that it’s easier to get in? Or is it because you are truly a fit, given that you’re, uh, an executive?
Don’t choose an MBA program based only on its test requirements (or lack thereof). Do your due diligence. School fit is important – not just “can I get in?”
In the future, we’re certain that the Executive Assessment will be a better option for more people, but this year, choose wisely before committing.
As with all things in life, just because it’s easier does not mean it’s better.
We discussed the Executive MBA option in considerable depth back in February (first post of that series here: Why is EMBA a four-letter word?).
We also discussed GMAT scores and admissions standards in EMBA programs – including some bschools like Kellogg that don’t even require a GMAT for admission to their Executive MBA. Cornell Johnson has some EMBA options where the GMAT is also not a standard requirement – though they can ask an applicant to submit a test score if they have concerns about that person’s proficiency (we have no idea how often that might happen). Obviously if you’re trying for any of these GMAT-optional programs and you have a GMAT or GRE score already, then go ahead and submit that with your app. But if you don’t, and you have evidence in some other aspect of your profile that you have quant proficiencies such as the analytical nature of your job or some earlier training from college or whatever, then you should be fine.
This GMAT / no GMAT policy thing can give you some insights into the respective schools’ strategies for filling the seats in their EMBA tracks – which, remember, are profit centers (we discussed the profit centers thing a bit along with bschool tuition in another series we did a long time ago about “Is there a bubble in demand for the MBA?” – first part of that series is here).
It’s worth pointing out that the EMBA tends to be more expensive than the respective school’s F/T program (as if that were possible! dang it, getting an MBA is pricey).
However, you also can expect a different student experience to go along with that higher EMBA price tag. Many EMBA programs give their students white-glove service, partly because of the price but also because they’re dealing with a different type of person, usually. Someone who’s, uh, an executive. You know, getting the first class seat on the plane type thing. Students in an EMBA are treated like adults, and in some cases with certain program formats at certain schools, attending class is more like a retreat, where you stay with your cohort at one pre-arranged hotel location and all meals are catered. Most EMBA students do not have to head to the campus bookstore to procure their textbooks (how quaint – a textbook!). If any physical books are assigned for a course, they magically appear for the students when needed – meaning the EMBA program services staff distribute them at the start of the semester.
But of course you pay for this. It’s embedded into that higher rate. The schools can justify that because a) traditionally the cost of an Executive MBA was covered by the employer for most students, and b) the students are older and already well established in their careers, where a six-digit price tag for this exclusive experience is not going to cause quite the same level of sticker shock or be the deterrent that it might be for a younger BSer.
While we think that tuition is way ridiculous for the top business schools out there and we are often shocked at how the schools continually raise the rates – like, every single year, the tuition goes up at pretty much all of the schools, to the tune of 4% or more, which is way higher than inflation these days, it’s extortionist yet everyone has to just go along with it (unless of course there’s a bubble in the demand for this prestigious education which we simply don’t see popping anytime soon, even though it did for law schools – again see that 2014 series on the the MBA bubble and the cost of education here if you’re interested) – so even though the schools are committing highway robbery in fleecing you out of six figures in exchange for three little letters after your name*, even so, we still believe it’s worth it. For most people, the boost to earnings potential you’ll receive by going through an MBA program is significant, and the ROI is justifiable. The tuition canNOT continue to be increased every single year to infinity so at some point there will be a reckoning and a shaking-out, where cost is factored in to more people’s decisions to pursue the MBA in the first place. However these days, it’s pretty rare where we hear someone using cost as a factor in deciding where to apply.
In fact, since we’re mentioning posts from the ‘Snarchive today, here’s one that may put things in perspective, comparing admissions, tuition and placement data between University of Pennsylvania Wharton and Penn State Smeal.
Most people who are able to land a spot in a top MBA program are also able to qualify for the student loans to pay for it. There are more and more funding options coming on board for MBA studies including peer-to-peer lending sites started by grads of Wharton and another out of Stanford. If you’re smart, you don’t take on personal debt lightly, but this is a case where almost always it ends up being very worthwhile.
That being said, the Executive MBA has an even higher price tag than its full-time sister program, so especially if you’re self-funding this endeavor rather than having the generosity of an employer behind you, make sure you’re looking at all the angles and carefully considering what you will get for your money.
*We’ve mentioned this before but… Please don’t put “MBA” after your name on your resume or in your LinkedIn profile. The MBA is a dime a dozen, there’s a gazillion people out there with one, so when we see someone broadcasting it that way, dunno, it comes across – to the ‘Snark at least – as a little bit ridiculous. It’s not like you earned a doctorate or something.
We’ve been discussing the Executive MBA options a bit here on the EssaySnark blahg and decided to throw out an example to wrap things up. A BSer came to us awhile back who’s applying from Asia, who’s somewhat older, with a fairly traditional pre-MBA background in certain ways, with a slightly flawed GMAT profile, but who could totally have made it into a good MBA program…. if they’d tried like three years earlier.
Cue major frowney-face.
We realize that’s not the news you want to hear. We’re definitely not saying that a full-time MBA is out of question for someone with this profile. But, it makes things harder.
In our first interaction (in Fall 2014, when we did a Comprehensive Profile Review) we suggested that maybe retaking the GMAT would help, and that even with an improved score, that they may be “aging out” – meaning, they were starting to look more suitable to the EMBA tracks instead.
Undaunted, they went ahead with some apps…. but only after waiting a full year. (!!!!!!) And they were rejected.
So now this person came back to us a year older, with another year of work experience accumulated, with the same GMAT score which was already a little weak and is now a year weaker. In this new era of ever-increasing competitiveness, if you have an acceptable GMAT score this year, you cannot assume that it’s going to remain acceptable next year. This was not the first BSer who had originally asked for our opinion several years ago, to whom we had to offer a reality adjustment this year, based on the surprising increase in competitiveness that we’ve been seeing.
So anyway. After they tried on their own and it didn’t work out, we did the Post-Mortem Review of what had been submitted to one Round 1 school, and we discovered that the career goals they were submitting to that school were SUPER ambitious. And VERY sophisticated. And not something that most full-time MBA grads can expect to pull off in a reasonable timeframe.
So not only was the PROFILE pointing to Executive MBA, but the GOALS that they pitched also were saying “I’m EMBA material, based on what I want to do with my life.”
And so we kept saying that to this person. Yet they kept telling us that they wanted the full-time MBA experience. And then – here’s the kicker – they told us that one reason was because “E-MBA courses are more focusing on leadership development, management skill, and networking.”
OK so wait.
First of all: At many top business schools, the EMBA curriculum is the same as the MBA curriculum, just offered in a different format, with a different cohort. Yes there’s often a different focus in terms of what types of business problems are discussed in the classroom, and some electives may only be available to EMBA students and not the full bschool population, and vice versa. However at many schools, there’s a comingling of cohorts, and you have the opportunity to participate in classes with both tracks of students, and literally everything available to students in one track is available to students in the other, provided you’re available to participate. Meaning, if you’re an EMBA student who’s not on campus during the day, then it’s hard to participate in many of the full-time student clubs, since that’s when they meet. You certainly graduate with the same exact degree. So this contrast between what a full-time MBA program offers compared to Executive MBA is not quite accurate.
But then conversely: If you’re saying you don’t want the EMBA because of that, well, how is a full-time day MBA track NOT “focusing on leadership development, management skill, and networking”????
Once again, we were flummoxed by the misperceptions in the market. We suggested that this BSer may want to spend more time doing research.
And also in reflecting on the question of “fit.”
If your profile is a match to the EMBA…. and your goals are a match to the EMBA….
That sure looks like a duck to us.
If you missed the GMAT data presented yesterday, you may want to go back and check that out first.
In a EMBA admissions posting recently, the Wharton team mentioned strategies about when to apply in Round 1 versus Round 2, saying that sometimes it’s better to delay in order to have time to retake the GMAT.
We’ll say that again:
They gave advice that some applicants would benefit from applying later in order to retake the GMAT.
OK, in case you’re not picking up what we’re laying down:
As a general rule, EMBA programs are simply not as competitive as the full-time MBA. There aren’t as many applicants, and the adcoms are less choosey. Not completely un-choosey, but less so.
They still need to see some quality elements to a profile – decent grades from college, a passable GMAT score. But the averages for both are not in the same realm as their F/T counterparts. In most cases, the EMBA adcoms are focusing instead on your professional experience. It’s MUCH more important at most of these places that you’re a fit to their program based on career. They want to see that you’re at an appropriate place in your professional development to benefit from what they offer, and to contribute to the class.
Wharton is saying here that sometimes a higher GMAT score is worth delaying your app till later in their cycle – which is the kind of advice you more often hear from the adcoms for the competitive F/T programs. The GMAT score matters at any school but it matters a lot less at an EMBA, simply because they don’t get nearly as many applications and so there aren’t as many top-scoring candidates fighting for prominence. Here, Wharton is signalling that yes, the GMAT matters in their evaluation and selection process, and a higher score can help, and that it may be worth the effort to take the test again. At other schools, the GMAT is not exactly just a check-the-box thing, in terms of making sure you have one and it doesn’t matter what it is. But it’s not like this.
Now, we’re not trying to claim that you can waltz into the Columbia or the Haas EMBA programs with a 500 GMAT. That score is low if we’re talking any program at any top school. But, when a BSer talks to the admissions folks at any EMBA program they very rarely emphasize the GMAT issue quite so much.
In fact, Kellogg’s EMBA does not even require a GMAT for most applicants. Yeah. That.
Chicago Booth will waive the GMAT requirement for some of their most senior applicants who can demonstrate sufficient quant proficiency through their job. That being said, the waiver sounds atypical. You apparently have to actually qualify for it. As proof, here’s what Chicago Booth EMBA folks tell their candidates:
Candidate: “I don’t have time to study for and take the GMAT.”
Booth: “Then you don’t have time to be a Chicago Booth student.”
Judging an EMBA program on its GMAT policies is painting with a broad brush, but it’s a helpful way to crack open some of these issues of selectivity and competitiveness – and it helps you to appreciate what types of students you’ll be in the classroom with. Did they even have to take the GMAT? Or if they did, did they have to bust butt and get a good score? Or did they just have to take it so that they could say that they took it? How much do they really want to be there?
You may curse the barriers to entry that the top bschools present with things like GMAT scores especially, but generally speaking, they do serve as a useful filtering mechanism.
When someone works really hard to get accepted to a program, then we’re betting they’re going to be more engaged and involved all the way through.