Want your business school to stand out? Revamp your admissions model

Business administration and management are among the most popular university majors and one of the most valued university degrees in terms of average starting salary and average tuition. Though popular, the abundance of these programs in Canada alone — over 80 business schools offer 160+ undergraduate and graduate degrees —  makes it difficult to compete for the best applicants. 

Many business schools rely on specialized programs, innovation streams, and corporate partnerships to stand out among applicants. While these can help differentiate programs to an extent, adopting a more holistic admissions model can have a greater impact. 

Here are four reasons:

1. Building a diverse class and workforce is good for business

The 2019 college admissions scandal and last year’s racial reckoning that came in the midst of the pandemic are still dominating conversations in higher education. Despite repeated calls for change, many colleges are still giving wealthy, connected, and mostly white students an edge in admissions. As long as the system continues to overwhelmingly favor the privileged, it will be difficult to build a diverse and inclusive class, which then makes it difficult for companies to recruit diverse graduates for their workforce. This is a problem because the annual stock return for the most diverse and inclusive companies is double than what is reported by the least diverse and inclusive companies. 

2. Most companies find graduates lack the appropriate soft skills

Did you know 3 in 4 employers struggle to find graduates with the soft skills their companies need? This is a common issue even outside of business management, which is why many medical schools and teacher’s education programs have already adopted various tools to assess personal and professional characteristics as part of a holistic admissions process. For example, 95% of disciplinary action reported to the medical board in the US are attributed to issues of professionalism, which are more costly and time consuming to remediate. To help reduce issues of professionalism and produce physicians who are more compassionate and patient-centered, medical schools started to adopt Casper, a situational judgment test (SJT) that probes applicants on what they would do in a tough situation and why. The University of Saskatchewan’s postgraduate medical program saw an 80 percent reduction in professionalism issues as well as a 92 percent reduction in remediation costs after adopting the SJT. Both Tulane and Texas A&M’s MD programs also benefited as there were strong correlations between Casper scores and performance in elements of the program where soft skills were front and center.

3. It’s critical to improving your reputation and that of your partners

Corporate reputation accounts for 63% of a company’s market value, and this largely depends on the professional conduct of leaders and employees. By not screening your applicants for professionalism, you risk feeding your corporate partners graduates who may be lacking in this area. As noted above, one medical school was able to substantially reduce professionalism issues and remediation costs by adopting a soft skills assessment for admissions. Business schools can easily achieve similar results.

4. Your applicants are likely Generation Z, and their expectations are high

Generation Z are very active advocates for racial equity and education. Recent research by Deloitte reveals that six in 10 Gen Zs believe systemic racism is widespread throughout society, one in five feel personally discriminated against all the time due to their race or gender, and three in five believe that positive change will need to come from the top down. Implementing real change within your admissions process can attract a more diverse pool of applicants and help you consider more well-rounded candidates who can succeed in your program and in the field.

Stand out from the rest; make a real change today

Adopting a holistic admissions model allows you to consider all the great qualities that applicants bring to the table outside of their grades, such as extra-curricular activities, community service, motivation, communication skills, overall trends in their academic journey, special circumstances, and their resilience. All of these are important to selecting and shaping students to become driven, successful, and ethical business leaders. Committing yourself to this change can also build credibility for your program among this generation of applicants who care deeply about how your program is helping to influence positive change in the industry they want to enter.

Interested in learning how to make your admissions process more holistic? Check out Acuity for Business Education.