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B-school applications are down this fall, but that might not make it any easier for MBA hopefuls to get into their top-choice school, at least at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, ranked No. 1 in BusinessWeek's latest rankings. Here, Admissions Director Beth Flye says it depends on the quality -- not quantity -- of applications they receive each year. Kellogg gave the nod to only 16% of the school's 5,000 applicants in 2003, and the competition to get in remains tough.
Flye fielded admissions questions from a live audience during a Jan. 7 BusinessWeek Online chat hosted by reporter Mica Schneider. She was joined by Eric Jagher, a current second year at Kellogg who also works in the MBA admissions office. Here's an edited transcript of that event:
Q: All of us are eager to know about the quantity and quality of the applicant pool this year. Any insights?
Flye: I'm happy to report that the quality of the pool is exceptional. In terms for the volume, we're in line with industry trends right now. We've seen a decline in numbers, but again, the good news is that the quality is outstanding. And it's still early in terms of where we are in the cycle.
Q: By what percentage have applications dipped?
Flye: Compared to the past couple of years, we've seen a decline in the range of 20% to 30%, which is in line with our peer schools. The majority of applications have yet to come into the pipeline, but right now we're a bit more in line with where we were prior to the spike in applications in 2001 and 2002.
[Editor's note: Kellogg received 5,802 applications for its full-time MBA program in 2000.]
Q: It's not difficult to infer that fewer applications mean a less selective admissions process this year. Isn't it safe to say that if you're a current MBA applicant, you've got a better chance in 2004 of getting a nod than in previous years?
Flye: Though the volume may be down, the competition is still going to be high. I would say two things: not necessarily, and it depends on the mix of the applicant pool. And again, we're still waiting for the majority of the applications to come in.
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