Scott Edinburgh
June 28, 2017

Highlights from the 2017 AIGAC Conference with Admissions Directors

Personal MBA Coach just came back from a great week at the annual Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC) conference in San Francisco, Palo Alto and Los Angeles. Thank you to Berkeley Haas, Wharton San Francisco, Stanford Graduate School of Business and UCLA Anderson for generously hosting AIGAC.

The highlight of the conference was a presentation of learnings from AIGAC’s annual survey, this year examining how Millennials approach the MBA admissions process. As a member of the survey committee, I presented findings on the application process from the candidate view to admissions directions from leading MBA programs throughout the US, Europe and Canada. The survey was focused on the applicant perspective of the MBA application process including common sources of applicant information, use of consultants, tuition funding strategies and number of schools applied to.

In addition to offering a great opportunity to share the results from this eight month long effort along with fellow committee members, the AIGAC conference provided Personal MBA Coach and other AIGAC members the chance to discuss trends in MBA admissions with admissions directors. Learnings included how schools evaluate candidates and how demand from post-MBA recruiters uniquely factors into the applicant selection process.  Also discussed were the latest updates in the application process, the increasing use of technology, an update on international candidates, and news on school programs and changes in curriculum and staff.

Staying on top of the latest news is my top priority in running Personal MBA Coach and I came away from this great week excited to help candidates tackle the upcoming application year and select the program and school most suited for each candidate’s specific goals. With more and more schools releasing their 2017-2018 applications, this conference could not have come at a better time! Thank you AIGAC for organizing such a great conference!

Here are Personal MBA Coach’s top 5 highlights from this year’s survey and my thoughts on their implications:

1.       Candidates are applying to an average of 5 schools: This point underscores the importance of widening your school list. With admissions rates at some schools in the single digits, there are many more qualified candidates than there are spaces. Candidates are clearly recognizing this as they determine the number of schools to apply to.

2.       Advising candidates to: apply to a school that I did not previously consider was the most common way admissions consultants influenced an applicant’s school decision process: Be open minded as you select target schools. Schools vary considerably in terms of culture, importance of specific admissions criteria and industry expertise. Some schools might greatly discount an applicant with a low GMAT or GPA while other schools are likely to weigh the overall story higher than the numbers. Consultants consider these unique Adcom perspectives when advising candidates on where to apply and it is this thinking that led nearly 40% of respondents to consider a school they wouldn’t have otherwise.

3.       70% of applicants are getting information from other MBA students: This information is also considered the most valuable school supplied information. You must go beyond the website to truly learn about a school. While the website is still the most commonly used source of information, applicants are using many sources including blogs, on-line and off-line information sessions, third party websites and MBA fairs to get information. To truly stand out in the admissions process and select the best schools for you, it’s crucial to talk to current students and seek out many other sources of information.

4.       79% of applicants use MBA rankings: US students use US News and World Reports most often while International students refer to the Financial Times. While these rankings are very commonly used, remember they are not the be all end all and many other rankings are available. As I have advised in the past, use these rankings to get your initial list but don’t stop there. Additionally, remember to consider how these rankings vary by industry, geography and over time.

5.       Reputation, ranking, culture and location are the top 4 factors in selecting a school: Culture is ranked third and tied with location, underscoring the importance both applicants and admissions directors place on fit in the application process. Take the time to get to know the programs and identify which schools are best suited for you. This will be key to your success convincing admissions directors throughout the application process and your future success on campus.

See full survey details here.

Personal MBA Coach is here to help with all aspects of the application process! If you would like individual and personal support, please find information about Personal MBA Coach’s comprehensive packages or contact me to learn how I can help! As an MIT Sloan BS graduate and Wharton MBA grad, I have been helping candidates get into the schools of their dreams with a 96% success rate for over 10 years. Email me today at: