BY LILY MOZAYENI - STAFF WRITER
Admissions is a tricky process, which might explain why nearly every top business school has used the same formula to evaluate applicants for decades: grades, test scores, essays, recommendation letters and interviews. However, in recent years, some b-schools, including UCLA Anderson, have tweaked the process with varied results. From 2008 to 2010, Anderson tested a new requirement for a video or audio submission. Application volume subsequently dropped 31%. To be sure, we were also experiencing one of the biggest economic crises of our time. More recently, Anderson has seen a 32% increase in applications since last year, thanks to new changes to the admissions process, according to Associate Dean Rob Weiler. These include the elimination of one essay and one letter of recommendation, and more extensive email outreach to prospective students. While the average grade-point average of admits has not changed, the average GMAT score has increased by five points, suggesting that the quality of admits has also improved. This rise in applications has also led Anderson’s selectivity rate to increase to 17% from 22.3%. (By comparison, here are the approximate selectivity rates of other top 10 M.B.A. programs: Wharton, 19%; Chicago Booth, 21%; Kellogg, 22%; and Tuck at Dartmouth, 21%.) Going forward, Anderson might also want to consider eliminating written letters of recommendation, which are not an accurate representation of applicant quality. Four in 10 applicants say they write their own recommendations, according to a survey by the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC). Worse, admissions directors estimate that number is actually closer to 60%. Why not do away with written letters altogether and only conduct phone interviews with the recommenders of applicants who seem promising? Of course, there are potential challenges to any change. Admissions officers might find it too time-consuming to conduct phone interviews with recommenders. But we won’t know unless we try. By continuously innovating, we can increase our chances of attracting the best talent to Anderson.