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From FaceTime To Instagram: How Are Business School Admissions Targeting Generation Z?

MBA admissions teams are placing more emphasis on multimedia in their applications to help them decide who to admit or reject—everything from video essays to social media

Tue Jul 24 2018

BusinessBecause
MBA programs are elite institutions. Their demanding admissions requirements mean that only the very best (and few) candidates who apply make the grade.

For most business schools the process of selecting applicants has remained largely staid for decades, but that is changing. Admissions teams are placing more emphasis on multimedia in their applications to help them decide who to admit or reject—everything from video essays to social media and photographs.

One factor driving the trend of digitizing the admissions process is the need to be seen as “cool” to attract generation “Z”, or the demographic after millennials that now makes up 25% of the US population, according to Alex Min, CEO of The MBA Exchange admissions firm.

Applications to MBA programs in the US have been falling for the past few years and while elite schools such as Stanford or Harvard face no shortage of applications, there is a tacit acknowledgement among some schools that they must appeal to future generations to ensure a consistent pipeline of talent.

“Gen Z’ers place high value on visual content, are intrigued by virtual-reality, and are motivated by trendy social influencers,” says Alex. “Most significantly, there’s nothing more important to this market than the ‘coolness’ of what they engage with online.”

Perhaps the best-known example of business schools’ attempt at innovation in admissions is the video essay. While candidate attraction is one factor, there are more analytical reasons why schools are introducing videos in admissions.

In 2016, Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business began asking MBA applicants to submit—as well as written essays, GMAT score, and recommendations—a one-minute video introducing themselves to their class. 

Shelly Heinrich, interim associate dean of MBA admissions at McDonough, says the video is about helping candidate’s show their authentic selves—something admissions committees are hotter on now that admissions consulting has become such big business. “It allows us to see how you present yourself when you’re not under pressure or nervous; when you can relax and be the real you.”

She adds: “We recognize that every once in a while, you have an interview that just doesn’t go as well as you hoped. You might have above average academics, amazing work experience, and overly positive recommendations, and we don’t want to let one 20-to-30-minute experience cloud that.”

Applicants today are more comfortable using video technology, with Skype and FaceTime ubiquitous, but Shelly advises that they use the video to define their personal brand: “Are you the person who aspires to do investment banking and likes to run marathons?” she says. “Are you the person whose passion is to work in analytics for a CPG company and you happen to have a private pilot’s license? Summarize who you are and what you want people to remember about you.”

Toronto’s Rotman School of Management recently announced that it was ‘Instagramming’ part of its essay process, with MBA applicants from this year required to submit pictures that demonstrate a so-called ‘spike factor’; ‘what are the things that you have done in your life that demonstrate passion/grit/resilience/ innovation/drive/ambition?’

Along with the video essay that Rotman pioneered back in 2012, the school hopes to ultimately make better decisions about who to admit. “Having a three-dimensional view of an applicant during the initial review has been a game-changer for us,” says Jamie Young, director of recruitment and admissions for the full-time MBA.

“The types of questions that we ask are about values, experiences, and interests. We think that this gives us a lot more insight into the candidate and allows us to get to know who they are much earlier in the process than we had been able to historically.”

Another trending topic among admissions committees is social media, which schools are using to screen MBA applicants’ backgrounds, so it has never been more vital to ensure that you present a polished and professional digital presence, along with videos and pictures that you may be asked to submit with an MBA application.

Alex says: “It’s been reported that approximately one-third of admissions officers claim to visit applicants’ social media profiles during the decision-making process. So, applicants should eliminate any questionable content from online platforms.”

Technology may be used to attract generation Z, but it could also prevent them from being admitted, should they fail to use it properly. 

Student Reviews

Georgetown: McDonough School of Business

Yegana

Verified

1/11/2023

Online

GWU - excellent investment for future

George Washington University is a good respected institution with strong programs in various studies, including project management, international affairs, politics, medicine and etc. The university provides students with good opportunities for internships and networking. GWU has a diverse student body and a reputation for academic excellence.

David

Verified

18/08/2023

On Campus

Safety on campus

I have had an amazing experience at Georgetown University. The classes are enjoyable, the professors are exceptional, and I feel like I am receiving a worthwhile education. The people and faculty at this institution are extraordinary, and I have discovered my true self while being here. Additionally, I always feel secure on campus, as it is the safest place in town.

Daniella

Verified

4/04/2023

On Campus

Georgetown is on top!

I've been enjoying this school so far. I wouldn't alter it, despite the fact that the school is on a hill and that it requires a lot of walking to get around it. For minority and first-generation students, there are a ton of services available. Even though the usual dorm rooms are modest, there is still plenty of area for storage. We have a ton of alternatives every day in the dining halls since they provide so many different dishes from so many different cultures

Student

Verified

1/03/2023

On Campus

Physical and mental health

Georgetown is my second home. The pre-professional counselors are incredibly helpful, and I feel supported and inspired to pursue my aspirations. We are certainly ranked as the top research university in the nation. They place a high priority on the development of the students as well as their physical and mental well-being.

Student

Verified

1/03/2023

On Campus

Wonderful university

Georgetown University is wonderful. The school's amazing diversity is one of its greatest strengths. The athletes are extremely committed to their sport, and the campus is amazing. The dorms are excellent! They are comfortable and spacious. If you ever find yourself bored on campus, you can always go off campus; it's fantastic. You'll never get bored dining in the cafeteria because the food is so delicious on campus.

Student

Verified

28/02/2023

On Campus

Academics

The university's academics are what really set it apart; the lecturers are kind and motivating. Although it can be challenging to connect with the majority of students because they are so intense and competitive, social life and student life are what you make of them. It is undoubtedly a very difficult four years that are challenging to get through. But in the end, it strengthens you and provides you with a wealth of knowledge and incredible prospects.

Student

Verified

28/02/2023

On Campus

Fantastic university

Georgetown university is a Fantastic university. The professors are outstanding, there are lots of ways to participate in campus life, and there are numerous groups and organizations where students can get involved. The campus is lovely and always kept clean, and there are people are willing to assist you 24 hours a day whenever you need help.

Student

Verified

28/02/2023

On Campus

Review of Georgetown university

Being at Georgetown university has been one of my best experiences. The Professors are knowledgeable, approachable, and very helpful. You will fall in love with Georgetown because of its daily activities, the vibrant students you will encounter, the food served on campus, and the lush surroundings. The housing and dorms are fantastic. There is no better place than Georgetown University if you’re looking to study, discover new things, make lifelong friends, and have fun!

Student

Verified

28/02/2023

On Campus

Academically challenging institution

Georgetown University is certainly an academically challenging institution, however, if you ask for assistance when you need it, the workload can be managed. Students are happy to assist one another, and most Professor want you to succeed. Student life is vibrant, the location is excellent and everyone here is friendly and welcoming.

Student

Verified

7/02/2024

On Campus

4 Years as an Expat at Georgetown University

Georgetown University provided an exceptional environment for my academic journey as an expat from Italy. As someone who initially felt apprehensive about moving to a new country, Georgetown quickly alleviated my concerns and made my transition incredibly smooth. One of the standout features of Georgetown is its diverse and welcoming community, particularly for international students. The campus is teeming with students from various corners of the globe, fostering a rich cultural tapestry that made me feel right at home. The vibrant campus life and numerous extracurricular activities offered ample opportunities to connect with fellow students, ensuring a well-rounded and fulfilling university experience. Georgetown's unique setting within the heart of Washington, DC, adds another layer to its charm. While the university is situated in the bustling city, the campus in the historic area of Georgetown provides a distinct and almost intimate atmosphere. This blend creates a truly unique feel and contributes to an unforgettable educational experience. Initially enrolled in the College with a desire to major in Linguistics and minor in Art & Journalism, I appreciated the flexibility and openness of the Georgetown education system. After my freshman year, I discovered my true passion lay in Marketing and International Business. The university's seamless transfer process allowed me to transition to the McDonough Business School, where I found the perfect fit for my academic aspirations. Georgetown's commitment to helping students explore and find their academic niche is indeed one of its most commendable qualities. The ability to explore various subjects before settling on a major is a testament to the university's dedication to fostering individual growth and success. The journey from Linguistics to Marketing & International Business exemplifies the beauty of a Georgetown education — a dynamic and supportive environment where students can discover and pursue their true passions. In conclusion, Georgetown University provided not only a top-notch academic education but also a transformative and enriching experience. From the welcoming international community to the unique campus setting and the flexibility to explore diverse academic paths, Georgetown stands out as a beacon of higher education that truly caters to the individual journey of each student.

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