Insights from the 2019 US News Ranking of Top Business Schools: Booth Climbs to #1

US News College RankingsWe don’t like to overemphasize the importance of rankings, but we know that applicants are extremely interested in them.  As such, let’s take a look at the US News and World Report Best Business Schools rankings for 2019 (ranked in 2018) today.

What’s new?  


Booth went from #3 last year to #1 this year, tied with Harvard.  

This is the first time Booth has been ranked #1 by US News and World Report.  Comparing Harvard and Booth, the acceptance rate jumps out at you.  Booth accepted 23.5% of applicants and Harvard 9.9%. The percentage of graduates employed at the time of graduation also stands out.  Booth has one of the highest at 88%. The only school in the top 25 with a higher percentage is Ross-more on them later-with 89.7%.  Side note: We don’t want to get too deep into employment statistics, but if having a job at the time of graduation, or getting one shortly thereafter is really important to you, check out the numbers reported for graduates employed 3 months after graduation.  The highest percentage you’ll see in the top 25 is Foster at 98.1%-pretty impressive. For those of you who’d been solely focused on applying to and getting in to H/S/W, we hope this helps you open your mind to the value of applying to and the possibility of attending a school other than those 3.  

Ross went from #11 last year to #7 tied this year, tied with Berkeley Haas.  

Ross achieved a noteworthy rise in the rankings, cracking the coveted Top 10.  Similar to my comment above, for those of you hyper focused on attending a school in the top 10, we hope this 1) helps you realize that the top 10 varies from year to year and 2) opens your mind to applying to schools outside of the top 10.      The difference between a school being ranked in the top 10 and not is pretty small.  One year they may be in the top 10, the next year they may be out. Did the school change that much in 1 year?  Probably not. Is the school still a great school? Most likely yes. There can be so much focus on a school being ranked in the top 10, but there are a number of excellent schools which hover right around the top 10 and even crack the top 10 (as they say) some years that as an applicant, you should make sure you don’t overlook them.  So, while Fuqua, Yale, Stern and Darden aren’t in the top 10 this year, as you consider which schools to apply to, take a look at these schools as they are perennially near the top 10 and sometimes included, if that’s important to you.

What do you need to know?  

One thing we noticed when we looked at the rankings was the average GMAT score.  Scanning the rankings, it wasn’t until you got to #17 Tepper that the average GMAT score dipped below 700.  Yikes! The average GMAT score at 5 of the top 6 schools (including the top 4 schools) was 730+. Wowza! Similar to rankings, we don’t want to place too much emphasis on the average GMAT score, but it’s worth noting that the average scores remain high and are continuing to go up for schools in the top 25.  You’re probably wondering, what you can do about it? Check out these articles on the Veritas Prep blog or contact us so we can give you some free advice.   It’s pretty common knowledge that the top 7 schools are pretty consistent–thus the term M7.  And everyone wants to go to Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton – thus the term H/S/W – even though Booth, Kellogg, or Sloan may be tied or ranked higher any given year.  Outside of the top 7, though, call it 8 through 12, there can be movement and as such, one school may be in the top 10 one year and out the next. We constantly remind applicants, rankings are only one factor to consider when selecting which schools to apply to.  Regardless of which schools you decide are right for you, you’ll want to make sure you submit the strongest application you’re capable of.  Contact us today to discuss your chances of admission to your target programs, to get answers to your questions, and to find out how we can help you get accepted to the school of your dreams.

Understanding the New GMAC MBA Rankings Tool

scottbloomdecisionsWith so many different MBA rankings, it can be difficult for the typical applicant to understand why one business school may be ranked higher in one publisher’s ranking than in another’s. This can create a culture of bias and distrust around the rankings, which limits the value of the information they present, especially considering few applicants will actually dive deep enough to uncover the DNA of each specific ranking.

The new GMAC rankings tool seeks to shed light on the differences between the various rankings. This tool provides a “one stop shop” for finding the right rankings system for your personal school selection process. Here’s a brief summary of the topics the GMAC rankings tool evaluates:

Distinctive Emphasis
A quick summary headline describing the most important criteria influencing the rankings of the publisher. This quick information will help orient your criteria for pursuing an MBA with the most relevant rankings publisher.

Rankings Methodology
A visual breakdown of how the publisher determines its rankings. This is a deeper dive into the “distinctive emphasis,” showing the full spectrum of the ranking criteria.

Rankings Fluctuation
An estimate of how much the average schools’ position changes from edition to edition. This can provide good insight into how stable and reliable the rankings of a particular publication are.

Schools Included
Information on what schools are included and the criteria each publication uses to determine inclusion. There are many MBA programs around the world and some publications are more U.S focused, international focused, full-time, or part-time focused so this category provides information on the publication’s coverage area.

Regional Popularity
A visual map of the most popular regions for a specific publisher’s ranking. The influence of a particular publication can vary from region to region, thus influencing its value to candidates in other areas.

Rankings Lists
The actual publication-specific rankings. This is the ranked list of schools that have resulted from each publisher’s unique methodology. Once you have identified the right publisher based on your target program criteria and future goals, then this list can help inform your school selection process.

This new offering from GMAC is a great tool to kick start your school research and selection processes. Leverage this resource to find the right rankings system for your MBA goals.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

Free MBA Guide: Everything You Need to Research Business Schools and Create Compelling Applications

Columbia UniversityIt’s no secret that pursuing an MBA is a challenging and time consuming process. There are thousands of MBA programs around the world, and it’s your job to find the program best fit for you. It’s easy to identify programs where your GPA and GMAT score fall within the range of accepted candidates, but what about personal fit? Which school or schools will offer you the best environment for your unique personality and future goals?

The Veritas Prep Essential Guide to Top Business Schools is a must-have resource for every elite MBA applicant. Now available for free through the Veritas Prep website, this comprehensive, interactive guide cuts through the marketing jargon and basic statistics found on any school’s website to offer in-depth analysis and expert advice to gain admission to the world’s most selective graduate business programs.

Use this guide to help determine which business school is the best fit for you based on your unique needs. The Essential Guide to Top Business School includes detailed information about the world’s most competitive business schools, including class statistics, academic structure, campus culture, post-MBA employment trends, as well as actionable advice to create compelling applications.

What are you waiting for? Bring yourself one step closer to getting an MBA, and check out the Veritas Prep Essential Guide to Business School for free now!

Getting ready to apply to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Should You Look at Fit or Prestige When Deciding Which Business School to Attend?

scottbloomdecisionsFor the fortunate, one of the most challenging decisions MBA applicants make this time of year is which business school to attend. Receiving an offer of admission to only one school is always great news, but when an applicant is greeted with multiple offers, the joy of admission often quickly turns to the paradox of choice. Indecision often occurs when admits are confronted with choosing between more prestigious MBA programs and those that represent a better personal or professional fit for them.

For some, the choice may be an obvious one – “Of course you should matriculate to the more prestigious program!” Others, however, would immediately choose to attend the program that better aligns with their development goals. Let’s explore some of the reasons why an admit might lean one way or the other.

Choosing Fit?
Think about the core reasons that initially drove your interest in pursuing a graduate business education. Was it to improve your analytical or problem solving skills? Was it to break into a new industry or climb the corporate ladder in your current line of work? Go back to these core desires and remember the real reasons why you are seeking an MBA. If these factors are important to you,then the school with a better fit might be best for you.

Now, this focus on fit can sometimes be forgotten in the face of rankings, which are difficult to overlook. And complicating this decision even further, many admits tend to solicit the advice of under-informed friends and family when trying to decide which MBA program to attend, so well-known programs with great brands that may not be the best fit for a candidate’s development goals are often recommended over somewhat less prestigious programs.

Choosing Prestige?
The goal for many candidates is to go to the most well-known and highly-ranked MBA program possible, so when it comes time to make a decision, it is all about which school has the best brand. Generally, the more reputed programs do tend to offer a better lifetime value and return on investment (ROI). This is because these programs often offer broader alumni networks with better long-term career considerations, particularly for those interested in global career opportunities. However, in many instances, an overall highly-ranked program may be weaker in specific industry and functional areas than lower ranked programs.

The answer to this debate is a difficult one. Admits should take both factors into consideration but strive to pursue the most highly-reputed program – not in absolute terms, but instead in terms of which best address their development needs and post-MBA goals.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You read more articles by him here.

Breaking Down the 2017 U.S. News Ranking of Top Business Schools: Part 2

US News College Rankings

Make sure you check out Part 1 of this article before you begin reading more of our thoughts on the recently released U.S. News and World Report‘s 2017 ranking of Best Business Schools. Now let’s take a deeper look at some of the surprises this year’s rankings presented:


Ranking surprises 
We were quite surprised to see Columbia (#10) come behind Tuck and Yale this year (ranked #8 and #9 respectively). Columbia has a very high yield of admitted applicants who choose to attend the school, and it has been working hard to foster a more collaborative culture. However, Tuck’s employment statistics and remarkably high percentage of graduates receiving a signing bonus (87%!) play well to the U.S. News methodology. We shouldn’t sell Tuck short, though, as other intangibles at Tuck not included in this ranking — such as student satisfaction, alumni network, and tight-knit culture — also rate among the highest of any MBA program.

Yale snagged Dean Ted Snyder from Chicago Booth back in 2011 after he presided over its precipitous rise in the rankings. His magic potion seems to be working at Yale as well, and we’ve dubbed him the “Rankings Whisperer.” He thoroughly understands the drivers of rankings and pushes all levers to the max to improve the standings of his schools. Yale has begun to move away from its ties to the social and nonprofit sectors, driving up average starting salaries and recruitment percentages, but perhaps distancing the program from its roots.

University of Virginia’s Darden School always seems to be the sleeper success story, and this year is no exception. With its best placement in more than a decade, Darden came in at #11. Darden’s reputation amongst peer schools and recruiters is not as strong as most other programs ranked in the top 15, but it has a very strong starting salary/bonus and other statistics.

Be wary of average salary numbers
The U.S. News ranking incorporates average salary plus signing bonus in its rankings, which in theory, is not a bad thing. After all, many applicants desire to gain an MBA, at least in part, to improve their salary potential. However, we recommend that you look at salaries just like the rankings themselves—by using the numbers in a broader context. After all, the difference in average salary and bonus between Harvard (ranked #1 overall) and Cornell (ranked #14 overall), is less than $5,000 per year.

If you analyze the data industry-by-industry (as we have), you’ll find that there’s little difference in salaries coming out of the top 10 to 15 programs. The biggest difference is the percentage of graduates who are able to land positions in highly selective industries, such as private equity. But here’s the rub: most of these highly selective industries are looking for extremely qualified candidates who have pre-MBA experience that fits their needs. So even if you manage to squeeze into Harvard or Stanford, if you don’t have the pre-MBA experience that these firms are looking for, then you’re going to have a tough time getting an interview, much less landing a job, in the highest paying private equity or venture capital positions.

Also, some roles, such as in investment banking, do not have as high of base salaries or signing bonuses, but a high percentage of your income will come from performance-based quarterly and annual bonuses. Other roles simply pay less, such as marketing and product management, but remain very attractive to a significant number of MBA graduates. Schools with a higher percentage of graduates taking these roles, such as Kellogg, can have lower overall salary averages, when their graduates make as much or more than peers within their chosen industry. None of this information can be captured in the U.S. News ranking.

Bottom line: Are you likely to make more money coming out of a program ranked #5 than ranked #20? Yes. But should you let this number dictate your decision between #7 and #12? Not necessarily. There are many other factors to consider, such as whether your target companies, industries, and so forth.

A holistic approach
We’ve provided a bit of context and analysis around this year’s ranking, and we encourage you to use these lists as merely a starting point in your research process. We encourage you to take advantage of our Veritas Prep Essential Guide to Top Business Schools to assist in your process, as it’s now available for free on our website!

In addition, if you’re interested in finding out your chances of admission to the top schools, you can sign up for a free profile evaluation to explore your individual strengths and weaknesses. Veritas Prep has worked with thousands of successful applicants to the top business schools, and we look forward to assisting you on your own journey!

Travis Morgan is the Director of Admissions Consulting for Veritas Prep and earned his MBA with distinction from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He served in the Kellogg Student Admissions Office, Alumni Admissions Organization and Diversity & Inclusion Council, among several other posts. Travis joined Veritas Prep as an admissions consultant and GMAT instructor, and he was named Worldwide Instructor of the Year in 2011. 

Breaking Down the 2017 U.S. News Ranking of Top Business Schools: Let the Games Begin!

US News College RankingsJust three and a half months into 2016, U.S. News & World Report has already released its 2017 ranking of Top Business Schools, and there’s quite a bit to talk about. The U.S. News ranking is arguably the most influential among U.S. business schools, and for good reason.

Various stakeholders can (and do) haggle over percentages of weight given to this statistic or that, but we at Veritas Prep think it does a good job at quantifying broad characteristics that a typical business school applicant would care about, namely the school’s overall reputation (40% weight), the ability to place you in a good-paying job (35%), and the capabilities of your fellow students (25%). We won’t get into the nitty-gritty here, but you’re more than welcome to read about the rankings methodology on the U.S. News website.

Now, let’s get into the juicy stuff!

Chicago Booth moves to #2
For the first time in the poll’s history, Chicago Booth has entered the #2 spot, tied with Stanford Graduate School of Business. There’s a lot to talk about here. How can Booth, which admits one in every four applicants (24.4%), possibly rank equally to Stanford, which admits only 6.1%? The key is that Stanford graduates are pickier.

Let me explain: Stanford exceeds Booth (and pretty much every other program) in every category except job placement. In fact, on the surface, Stanford’s job placement numbers look absolutely abysmal: It ranks #52 in percentage of graduates employed at graduation (71.7%) and #74 in percentage of grads employed three months after graduation (86.2%).

But wait, shouldn’t recruiters be pounding down the door to hire Stanford grads? Indeed, they do. However, Stanford MBAs are known for being exceptionally picky, and they’re willing to wait to get the jobs they want. This year, 92% of Stanford MBAs had received a job offer within 3 months of graduation, but several of them chose not to accept those offers. MBAs from most other schools have a lower tolerance for risk, so once they near the three-month mark after graduation, few offers go unanswered.

In addition, far fewer Stanford graduates go into traditional MBA recruiting industries such as management, consulting and finance. These industries will hire whole classes of MBA recruits many months before graduation, so the schools that send more graduates into those industries tend to have stronger recruitment statistics than the programs that send more graduates into non-traditional positions. Remember, most companies will only hire someone when a position becomes available (just-in-time hiring), rather than hiring a whole slew of graduates at once.

Many Stanford grads tend to gravitate toward venture capital, private equity, or Bay Area startups, which are far smaller than the enormous banks and management consulting firms that many traditional MBAs are hired to. This depresses their statistics, but is also a key reason to attend Stanford GSB. Based on all other criteria, Stanford would be the clear #1 ranked program.

This isn’t to say that Chicago Booth isn’t deserving. The school has invested significantly in its career services resources and recruiting apparatus to ensure its graduates have stellar jobs upon graduation. Fully 95% of Booth graduates had accepted a job offer within three months of graduation, leading every school in the top-10 except the (much smaller) class at Tuck, which edged them out at 95.1%.

NYU Stern drops to #20, but ignore it
The biggest loser — by far — in this year’s ranking is NYU Stern, dropping from #11 last year to #20 this year. The school is furious, and we can’t blame them. Dean Peter Henry released a press release explaining the drop in ranking, which was due to inadvertently leaving one answer blank on a survey of 300 questions. The question asked for the number of admits that had submitted a GMAT score, which was not dramatically different from the previous year.

However, rather than simply reaching out and asking NYU Stern – perennially ranked in the top 10-12 programs – what the number should be, the ranking “estimated” the number, resulting in a drop of nine places. Clearly, their estimate was nowhere near realistic, and we at Veritas Prep believe this action by U.S. News to be in egregiously bad taste and downright punitive. We encourage all of our clients and readers to ignore this year’s ranking of NYU Stern, to not incorporate it into their school-selection decisions, and assume that had the data been reported correctly, the school would have remained in approximately the same rank.

Check out Part 2 of this article, in which we’ll take a deeper look at these rankings and what they might mean for you.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Travis Morgan is the Director of Admissions Consulting for Veritas Prep and earned his MBA with distinction from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He served in the Kellogg Student Admissions Office, Alumni Admissions Organization and Diversity & Inclusion Council, among several other posts. Travis joined Veritas Prep as an admissions consultant and GMAT instructor, and he was named Worldwide Instructor of the Year in 2011. 

Financial Times Ranks INSEAD as the #1 MBA Program in the World

INSEADThe Financial Times recently released their Global MBA Rankings for 2016, and this year, INSEAD topped the list. This is the first time a “one-year MBA program” has ranked #1 in the Financial Times‘ rankings.

With this honor, INSEAD also becomes only the fifth school to ever assume the top spot in the Financial Times‘ 18-year history of publishing their rankings – the only schools to reach #1 thus far have been Harvard Business School, the Stanford Graduate School of Business, London Business School, and the Wharton School of Business, all of which occupy the rest of the top five slots for this year’s rankings.

INSEAD prides itself on being the “business school of the world,” and boasts of an international faculty and student body of over 80 different nationalities that enriches classroom discussions and creates life changing experiences for its students through its cultural diversity and views. INSEAD’s campuses in France and Singapore further add to the student experience with opportunities to travel across Europe and Asia with fellow MBA participants during the program.

In his letter to INSEAD alumni, Dean Ilian Mihov attributes the school’s #1 ranking to what INSEAD values: “diversity, academic excellence, entrepreneurial culture and extensive global alumni network.” The school’s international faculty also works together to continuously improve its curriculum and deliver exceptional educational experiences to all its students in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Mihov also shared that this marked a “triple first” for INSEAD, becoming the first and only school to have all three of its MBA programs ranked #1 by the FT in their respective categories: INSEAD MBA ranked #1 for MBA programs, the Tsinghua INSEAD EMBA ranked #1 for EMBA programs, and the INSEAD Global EMBA was honored as the highest ranked single school program.

In a separate letter, the INSEAD MBA Admissions team shared the profile of its latest intake of 514 students, with 75 nationalities represented – 30% of them women – including students from Indian, American, Chinese, French, British, and Canadian nationalities. The average age of INSEAD’s incoming class is 29 and its average GMAT score is 702.

INSEAD has also continued its “Conditional Acceptance Offer” of offering a place to candidates who have the potential and quality to be admitted, but need one more year of professional experience. Introduced in 2014, the school has found this offer to be a good way to retain young, bright candidates for future MBA classes. 15 students received such an offer for their latest intake.

Surely this remarkable achievement will be something to consider when determining whether INSEAD is the right business school for you.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD.

4 Predictions for 2016: Trends to Look for in the Coming Year

Can you believe another year has already gone by? It seems like just yesterday that we were taking down 2014’s holiday decorations and trying to remember to write “2015” when writing down the date. Well, 2015 is now in the books, which means it’s time for us to stick our necks out and make a few predictions for what 2016 will bring in the world of college and graduate school testing and admissions. We don’t always nail all of our predictions, and sometimes we’re way off, but that’s what makes this predictions business kind of fun, right?

Let’s see how we do this year… Here are four things that we expect to see unfold at some point in 2016:

The College Board will announce at least one significant change to the New SAT after it is introduced in March.
Yes, we know that an all-new SAT is coming. And we also know that College Board CEO David Coleman is determined to make his mark and launch a new test that is much more closely aligned with the Common Core standards that Coleman himself helped develop before stepping into the CEO role at the College Board. (The changes also happen to make the New SAT much more similar to the ACT, but we digress.) The College Board’s excitement to introduce a radically redesigned test, though, may very well lead to some changes that need some tweaking after the first several times the new test is administered. We don’t know exactly what the changes will be, but the new test’s use of “Founding Documents” as a source of reading passages is one spot where we won’t be shocked to see tweaks later in 2016.

At least one major business school rankings publication will start to collect GRE scores from MBA programs.
While the GRE is still a long way from catching up to the GMAT as the most commonly submitted test score by MBA applicants, it is gaining ground. In fact, 29 of Bloomberg Businessweek‘s top 30 U.S. business schools now let applicants submit a score from either exam. Right now, no publication includes GRE score data in its ranking criteria, which creates a small but meaningful implication: if you’re not a strong standardized test taker, then submitting a GRE score may mean that an admissions committee will be more willing to take a chance and admit you (assuming the rest of your application is strong), since it won’t have to report your test score and risk lowering its average GMAT score.

Of course, when a school admits hundreds of applicants, the impact of your one single score is very small, but no admissions director wants to have to explain to his or her boss why the school admitted someone with a 640 GMAT score while all other schools’ average scores keep going up. Knowing this incentive is in place, it’s only a matter of time before Businessweek, U.S. News, or someone else starts collecting GRE scores from business schools for their rankings data.

An expansion of student loan forgiveness is coming.
It’s an election year, and not many issues have a bigger financial impact on young voters than student loan debt. The average Class of 2015 college grad was left school owing more than $35,000 in student loans, meaning that these young grads may have to work until the age of 75 until they can reasonably expect to retire. Already this year the government announced the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) Plan, which lets borrowers cap their monthly loan payments at 10% of their monthly discretionary income. One possible way the program could expand is by loosening the standards of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. Right now a borrower needs to make on-time monthly payments for 10 straight years to be eligible; don’t be surprised if someone proposes shortening it to five or eight years.

The number of business schools using video responses in their applications will triple.
Several prominent business schools such as Kellogg, Yale SOM, and U. of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management (which pioneered the practice) have started using video “essays” in their application process. While the rollout hasn’t been perfectly smooth, and many applicants have told us that video responses make the process even more stressful, we think video is’t going away anytime soon. In fact, we think that closer to 10 schools will use video as part of the application process by this time next year.

If a super-elite MBA program such as Stanford GSB or Harvard Business School starts video responses, then you will probably see a full-blown stampede towards video. But, even without one of those names adopting it, we think the medium’s popularity will climb significantly in the coming year. It’s just such a time saver for admissions officers – one can glean a lot about someone with just a few minutes of video – that this trend will only accelerate in 2016.

Let’s check back in 12 months and see how we did. In the meantime, we wish you a happy, healthy, and successful 2016!

By Scott Shrum

Fit vs. Ranking: Choosing the Right Business School for You

Round 1 vs. Round 2One of the hardest aspects of selecting which MBA programs to apply to is reconciling how well you fit with a program with how highly ranked that same program is. Many students will initially gravitate towards rankings as their default target school list. Many applicant school lists will be left littered with the historic elite of graduate business education, with programs like Harvard, Stanford, and Kellogg consistently making appearances for unqualified applicants.

These schools top the rankings year in and year out and they do so for a reason: they are very difficult to gain admission to, with some acceptance rates in the single digits, making admission to these programs a rarity for the greater majority.

For those applicants who create their list based off of “fit”, they tend to have a bit more success in the application process. Now “fit” is not always as straightforward a concept as one might imagine when framed in the context of business school admissions. “Fit” should account for geographic, academic, professional, social, and school specific admissions criteria.

By utilizing fit, applicants can make sure that if admitted, the program properly addresses their development goals. However, adhering to the “fit” criteria above can be more difficult than it seems. Often candidates are not always completely honest when it comes to assessing where their profile may stand in comparison to the competition, so make sure to be as honest as possible with your own personal assessment.

The best approach is really to take both “fit” and the rankings into consideration to create your target school list. Identify the programs that fit your criteria both quantitatively and qualitatively as an initial step, and then leverage various external rankings to tier your potential programs. Overall, creating your target school list is an inexact science that requires a bit more of a personal touch than simply following an arbitrary list created by media publications.

Utilize the guidance above to more effectively shape your target school list to ensure you optimize your chances of admissions success.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here.

MIT Sloan Application Essays and Deadlines for 2015-2016

MIT Sloan recently released its admissions essay and deadlines for the Class of 2018. While hardly any top business schools have cut essays this year (after several years of doing so), Sloan actually did cut an essay, going down to just one required essay this year. But, here’s a twist: The Sloan admissions team has added a second essay just for those who are invited to interview. So, you’re still going to need to write two strong essays to get into Sloan, and we break down the essay prompts below.

Here are MIT Sloan’s essays and deadlines for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:

MIT Sloan Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: September 17, 2015
Round 2: January 14, 2016
Round 3: April 11, 2016

Several noteworthy things here… First, Sloan’s Round 1 deadline has moved up by almost a week, pushing into mid-September for the first time ever. And, the school’s Round 2 deadline comes almost a week later than it did last year. If you apply to Sloan in Round 1, you will get your decision by December 16, which will give you plenty of time to get Round 2 applications ready for other MBA programs, if needed.

The other interesting thing here is that Sloan has added a Round 3! For a while, Sloan had been unique among top U.S. business schools in that it only had two admissions rounds. For instance, last year, if you hadn’t applied by January 8, then you weren’t going to apply to Sloan at all. Now stragglers actually have a chance of getting into MIT Sloan, although our advice about Round 3 is always the same — there are simply fewer seats available by Round 3, so only truly standout applicants have a real chance of getting in. Plan on applying in Round 1 or 2 to maximize your chances of success.

MIT Sloan Admissions Essays

  1. Tell us about a recent success you had: How did you accomplish this? Who else was involved? What hurdles did you encounter? What type of impact did this have? (500 words)This question is new to MIT Sloan’s application this year. What we like about it is how it very explicitly spells out what Sloan’s admissions team wants to see. For these types of questions, we always advise applicants to use the “SAR” method — spell out the Situation, the Action that you took, and the Results of those actions. There is no hard and fast rule for how many words you should devote to each section, but the situation is where you want to use up the fewest words; you need to set the stage, but with only 500 words to work with, you want to make sure that you give the bare minimum of background and then move on to what actions you took. And, make sure you leave enough room to discuss the result (“What type of impact did this have?”) Your individual actions and the impact that you had are what the admissions committee really wants to see.One final thought here: Don’t only think about the impact that you had on your organization, but also spend some time thinking about the impact that the experience had on you. What did you learn? How did you grow as a result? And, how did you put this lesson to work in a later experience? That may be a challenge to fit into a 500-word essay, but this is the type of introspection and growth that any business school admissions committee loves to see.
  2. For those who are invited to interview: The mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and to generate ideas that advance management practice. Please share with us something about your past that aligns with this mission. (250 words)The wording of this prompt has changed slightly since last year, but the biggest change (other than the fact that it’s become the essay only for those invited to interview) is that the word count has dropped from 500 to 250 words. At its core, this is a “Why MIT Sloan?” question. The admissions committee wants to see that you have done your homework on Sloan, that you understand what the school stands for, and that you really want to be there.When Sloan asks you to share something that “aligns with” its mission, it’s not just asking about what you will do while you’re in school for two years, but also about how you plan on taking what you’ve learned (and the connections you’ve built) and going farther than you could ever have without an MIT Sloan MBA. Note the very last part of the question: The key to a believable essay here will be to cite a specific example from your past when you got involved and make things better around you. Don’t be intimidated by the high-minded ideals in the first part of the essay prompt — making an impact (rather than just standing idly by and being a follower) is what they want to see here, even if it’s on a relatively small scale.

The MIT Sloan MBA admissions team just posted a brief video that has some good basic advice on how to tackle their essays. There are no huge “Ah ha!” moments in the video, but it’s always good to hear advice straight from the course. Here is another article with some advice for the essay.

Do you dream of getting into MIT Sloan? Give us a call at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum

Bloomberg Businessweek Business School Rankings for 2014

Bloomberg Businessweek has just announced the 2014 edition of its influential biennial MBA rankings, and boy are there changes afoot! Business school rankings are normally only interesting when there are big changes, and the folks at Businessweek did not disappoint this year.

Here are Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2014 rankings of the top 25 business schools in the U.S., followed by our analysis of what’s changed:

1. Duke (Fuqua)
2. Pennsylvania (Wharton)
3. Chicago (Booth)
4. Stanford
5. Columbia
6. Yale
7. Northwestern (Kellogg)
8. Harvard
9. Michigan (Ross)
10. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)
11. UCLA (Anderson)
12. North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)
13. Cornell (Johnson)
14. MIT (Sloan)
15. Dartmouth (Tuck)
16. Indiana (Kelley)
17. Maryland (Smith)
18. Emory (Goizueta)
19. UC Berkeley (Haas)
20. Virginia (Darden)
21. USC (Marshall)
22. NYU (Stern)
23. Texas at Austin (McCombs)
24. Georgetown (McDonough)
25. Rice (Jones)

Winners in This Year’s Rankings
There’s no doubt that they’re partying down in Durham today, as Duke’s Fuqua School of Business has taken over the #1 spot in Businessweek’s rankings for the first time, knocking previous champ Chicago Booth down to #3. Columbia also had a huge day, climbing eight spots from #13 to the fifth slot.

It’s hard to top Duke’s big day, but if anyone is even more excited than Team Fuqua, it may be the folks at Yale SOM, which climbed a whopping 15 spots, jumping from #21 all the way to #6. No doubt the student body in New Haven is feeling energized by the school’s new building and the leadership of new dean Ted Snyder.

UCLA Anderson also had a terrific day, climbing from #18 all the way to #11. UNC’s Kenan-Flagler was just a smidge less successful, jumping from #17 to #12 in the new rankings.

Losers in This Year’s Rankings
We already mentioned Booth, which lost the top spot this year, although there’s no real shame in being ranked the third best business school in America. Among business schools in the top ten, Harvard is smarting from a six-spot drop from #2 down to #8. And Kellogg fell out of the top five, drooping two spots to #7.

Looking a bit further down the list, Cornell’s Johnson School fell out of the top ten, dropping from 7th place down to 13th place. MIT Sloan had a similarly bad day, falling from ninth place to the 14th spot.

How Businessweek Ranks the Business Schools
Bloomberg Businessweek uses three data sources for its rankings: It relies on a survey of student satisfaction (which is given a 45% weighting), a survey of employers who hire those graduates (45%), and a measure of the faculty’s clout, judged by how much the faculty publishes in academic journals (10 percent). You can read about Businessweek’s ranking methodology in more detail here.

So, remember that these rankings are largely a measure of how happy MBA students are with their schools, and how happy employers are with the grads that the schools turn out. This is no better or worse of a methodology than any other, but keep that in the back of your mind as you consider whether any school really just got better or worse than 10 other top-ranked U.S. business schools.

You can read more about 14 of the the most competitive business schools in Veritas Prep’s Essential Guides, 14 in-depth guides to the most elite MBA programs, available on our site. If you’re ready to start building your own MBA candidacy, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum.

U.S. News MBA Rankings for 2015

U.S. News & World Report, which maintains arguably the most influential graduate school rankings in the world, has just released its new business school rankings for 2015. It’s far too easy for applicants to get caught up in the rankings, and to obsess over the fact that a school dropped three spots from one year to the next, but reality is that MBA rankings matter. They influence how recruiters look at schools, they serve as a signal to applicants and affect what caliber of applicants each school receives, and they give you an idea of where you stand relative to your target schools. You should never end your business school selection process with the rankings, but the reality is that you will probably start the process by seeing where schools sit in the MBA rankings.

Here are the top 25 American MBA programs according to U.S. News. Each program’s 2014 ranking (published in 2013) follows in brackets:

2015 U.S. News Business School Rankings

1. Harvard [1]
1. Stanford [1]
1. Penn (Wharton) [3]
4. U. of Chicago (Booth) [6]
5. MIT (Sloan) [4]
6. Northwestern (Kellogg) [4]
7. UC Berkeley (Haas) [7]
8. Columbia [8]
9. Dartmouth (Tuck) [9]
10. NYU (Stern) [10]
11. U. of Michigan (Ross) [14]
11. U. of Virginia (Darden) [12]
13. Yale [13]
14. Duke (Fuqua) [11]
15. U. of Texas (McCombs) [17]
16. UCLA (Anderson) [14]
17. Cornell (Johnson) [16]
18. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) [19]
19. U. of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler) [20]
20. Emory (Goizueta) [18]
21. Indiana (Kelley) [22]
22. Washington U. in St. Louis (Olin) [21]
23. Georgetown (McDonough) [25]
23. Notre Dame (Mendoza) [27]
25. U. of Washington (Foster) [24]
25. Vanderbilt (Owen) [30]

(Yup, 26 schools actually made the “Top 25” in the U.S. News MBA rankings this year.)

What’s Changed Since Last Year?
Certainly, much of the chatter about this year’s MBA rankings will be about the fact that Wharton has edged into a three-way tie with Harvard and Stanford for the #1 spot. Also at the top, Chicago Booth managed to leapfrog MIT Sloan and Kellogg to take sole possession of the #4 spot. Despite some modest juggling, the same ten MBA programs that a year ago could say they were “top ten” schools are the same programs that can make this claim this year.

Outside of the top ten, Ross rose three spots to be just on the outside of the top ten, climbing from #14 to #11 (switching places with Duke’s Fuqua). Notre Dame’s Mendoza and Vanderbilt’s Owen climbed four spots and five spots, respectively, to break into the top 25. You can be sure that some champagne is popping in Indiana and in Tennessee this afternoon.

You can read more about 14 of the the most competitive business schools in Veritas Prep’s Essential Guides, 14 in-depth guides to the most elite MBA programs, available on our site. If you’re ready to start building your own MBA candidacy, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum.

Average GMAT Scores for the Top 30 MBA Programs

Top 30 MBA Programs by GMAT Score There are a number of criteria by which you can rank MBA programs: Average starting salary after graduation, average undergrad GPA of incoming students, acceptance rate, student satisfaction, and academic reputation among peer schools are all measures that publications use to try to sort the schools and create a definitive ranking.

Beyond those measures, a very telling one is the average GMAT score of each business school’s incoming class. If you’re a business school applicant (or are just starting to think about applying) and are wondering “What are my chances at the top MBA programs?” a good first check is to look at the top schools’ average GMAT scores and to see how close you are. MBA admissions officers will be quick to tell you that they have no hard cut-offs for GMAT scores and that they look at the whole application when looking at an applicant, and this is true. If, however, you’re not even close to a school’s average GMAT score, then that’s a signal that your odds of getting in may be lower than you would like.

Here are the 30 American business schools with the highest average GMAT scores. Each school’s 2014 U.S. News rankings (published in 2013) follows in brackets:

30 U.S. MBA Programs with the Highest Average GMAT Scores
1. Stanford – 730 [1]
2. Harvard – 724 [1]
3. Chicago (Booth) – 719 [6]
4. NYU (Stern) – 719 [10]
5. Yale – 719 [13]
6. Pennsylvania (Wharton) – 718 [3]
7. Dartmouth (Tuck) – 718 [9]
8. Columbia – 716 [8]
9. UC Berkeley (Haas) – 715 [7]
10. Northwestern (Kellogg) – 712 [4]
11. MIT (Sloan) – 710 [4]
12. UCLA (Anderson) – 704 [14]
13. Michigan (Ross) – 703 [14]
14. Virginia (Darden) – 701 [12]
15. Wash U. (Olin) – 696 [21]
16. Vanderbilt (Owen) – 695 [30]
17. U. of Texas – Austin (McCombs) – 692 [17]
18. Notre Dame (Mendoza) – 692 [27]
19. Cornell (Johnson) – 691 [16]
20. UC Davis – 690 [40]
21. Duke (Fuqua) – 689 [11]
22. UNC (Kenan-Flagler) – 689 [20]
23. USC (Marshall) – 687 [26]
24. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) – 686 [19]
25. Georgetown (McDonough) – 686 [25]
26. Minnesota (Carlson) – 686 [23]
27. Boston University – 684 [40]
28. Emory (Goizueta) – 681 [18]
29. U. of Wisconsin – Madison – 680 [34]
30. U. of Florida (Hough) – 678 [36]

On this blog we tend to spend a lot of time writing about the very top-ranked business schools (largely, of course, because those are the schools that our clients want to hear about), but some interesting schools show up when you rank programs by average GMAT score. MBA programs such as Vanderbilt, UC Davis, Boston University, and U. of Florida all draw a pretty impressive pool of GMAT test takers. Perhaps these schools don’t get enough love in the national rankings.

Again, don’t talk yourself out of applying to any of these business schools if you have a GMAT score that’s not close to these averages. And, don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re Stanford material simply because you have a 760 GMAT score; everything in your application really does matter, and while a strong GMAT score can keep you out of a top business school, it’s never enough alone to get you into a great school. Use this list as a gut check to see where you stand, and to see if you need to take another shot at the GMAT before crafting your business school application strategy.

How do you compare to students at the top MBA programs? Find out by taking a free computer-adaptive GMAT practice test. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum.

U.S. News Business School Rankings for 2014

U.S. News & World Report has just announced its 2014 business school rankings. While we never like to see applicants put too much emphasis on the rankings, it’s always a little exciting when U.S. News refreshes its rankings of the nation’s top MBA programs. Don’t solely decide to apply based on whether an editor at a magazine moved your target school down from 8th to 9th this year, but do take a look at the rankings — and, especially, the data associated with the rankings — to help you start to narrow down your list and get a feel for what kind of MBA program you have a shot of getting into.
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Financial Times Business School Rankings for 2013

MBA Rankings 2012Earlier this week The Financial Times released its new global MBA rankings for 2013. For the first time in eight years, Harvard Business School sits atop FT’s rankings, ousting last year’s #1, Stanford GSB. Harvard’s return to #1 marks the fourth time the school has topped the FT rankings since they were first launched in 1999. In fact only three other schools have ever topped the Financial Times rankings: Stanford, Wharton, and London Business School.

One driver of Harvard’s rise is its improvement in FT’s diversity measure, which rewards schools for having a greater percentage of female and international students. While 34% of Harvard’s Class of 2013 comes from overseas, 43% of the Class of 2014 are international. This surely is a reflection of Dean Nitin Nohria’s goal to boost Harvard’s international influence and outlook.
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2012 Businessweek MBA Rankings

Bloomberg Businessweek has just released its business school rankings for 2012. Businessweek’s rankings aren’t the only game in town — the U.S. News business school rankings are also very influential, and others such as The Financial Times carry more clout in Europe — but the fact that Businessweek’s rankings only come out every two years always creates a little more buildup for this moment.

A word of caution before we proceed: When you look at any ranking system, remember that there’s no single “right” way to rank the schools. Each of the popular business school ranking systems below rely on a different set of criteria, including acceptance rates, average GMAT scores, and post-graduation salaries. Some also use more subjective criteria, such as peer ratings by administrators at other business schools, and how each school is rated by its current and former students. It’s therefore no surprise that no two ranking systems will completely agree with one another.
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U.S. News MBA Rankings for 2013

U.S. NewsToday U.S. News & World Report unveiled its 2013 business school rankings. As we always say, it’s easy to get too caught up in the rankings and obsess over details such as a school “plunging” from 8th to 11th in the rankings or “shooting up” from 14th to 10th. Of course the rankings will have some impact on your school research, but using them as any more than a useful starting point can lead you to apply to schools which don’t fit you as well as they could.

Still, we all love rankings, whether we’re talking about education, fashion at the Oscars, or best bands of all time. And we can’t help but pay attention when U.S. News releases its influential rankings of grad schools.
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Financial Times MBA Rankings for 2011

MBA Rankings 2011The Financial Times has just released its new global MBA rankings for 2011. London Business School hangs on to the top spot, but Wharton has moved back into a tie for #1 after falling to #2 behind LBS last year.

Accompanying the rankings, FT release an update of its article called How to Choose a Programme, in which we’re quoted. As is always the case, we strongly advise that applicants don’t just go by the rankings when selecting their target business schools.
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