Personal MBA Coach’s Takeaways from the 2019 AIGAC MBA Applicant Survey

Scott Edinburgh, Founder of Personal MBA Coach: This is a very exciting time of year for me, for Personal MBA Coach, and for the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC). This week, as the Chair of the Survey Committee who sits on the AIGAC Board of Directors, I presented the results of our comprehensive 2019 survey to admissions directors of top MBA programs including HBS, MIT Sloan, Chicago Booth, Columbia Business School, UVA Darden, Berkeley Haas, Michigan Ross, Yale SOM, London Business School and others at our annual conference. A special thank you to UVA Darden, Georgetown McDonough and Duke Fuqua for hosting this year!

Each year, AIGAC conducts a survey of over 1,000 current and previous MBA applicants in order to better understand the MBA application process. In so doing, we collect advice for students, schools, and consultants on how to improve the MBA application process.

I was delighted to share valuable insights from this year’s survey yesterday on how to better interact with applicants in today’s digital environment with both fellow MBA admissions consultants and admissions directors.

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Given that many of the survey takeaways are equally as valuable for MBA applicants, below I have shared my take on the highlights from this year’s presentation.

1) MBA applicants are applying to an increasing number of MBA programs.

In 2019, the average candidate applied to 4.5 schools, up from 3.8 in the previous year. 46% of applicants applied to 5 or more programs (up from 36% last year).

This is in line with what I advise my clients, who on average apply to 5 schools each. International schools saw the largest increase in applications, which is unsurprising given the rankings improvements international schools have enjoyed in recent years and the political climate and interest of applicants to hedge themselves across regions.

2) MBA applicants placed an increased value on their future school’s network.

“Access to a strong network” was tied for the #2 reason students selected a specific MBA program and saw the largest increase, +9% from last year. Access to information was the #1 reason and job prospect access shared the #2 spot. Notably, the desire to have a positive impact also saw a sizable increase this year.

3) While reputation and rank remained the top factors in school selection, culture saw the biggest increase.


There was a whopping 17pt increase in the % of respondents who cited school culture as a top factor influencing their choice of schools. 50% of applicants also reported career impact as a top factor and just under 50% cited location as a top factor.

4) Admissions consultants most often advise candidates to apply to schools they did not previously consider and to improve their GMAT scores.

36% of candidates reported applying to a school they would not have considered without their MBA admissions consultants, while 32% sought to increase their GMAT scores. This underscores candidate opinion that the value of an admissions consultant goes beyond supporting applicants with essay development.

For the complete survey results including how students interact with schools and what candidates think about the LOR process check out our press release!

Stay tuned for a more detailed analysis of the AIGAC conference next week!

If you need personal support navigating your MBA application, reaching out to Wharton and MIT graduate, Personal MBA Coach may be worthwhile. PMC’s comprehensive support includes mock interviews with a team of former M7 interviewers and customized GMAT/GRE tutoring with tutors who scored in the 99th percentile.

This article has been re-published from Personal MBA Coach’s blog.

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