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MBA Applications

Thank you to the over 170 people who participated in this poll. Here are the results and our analysis. (Note: This poll was conducted a couple of years ago and a lot has changed since then!)

Question:  How did you apply/How do you plan to apply to business school?

mba applications

Our Views on the Online Applications

We have noticed a very strong improvement over each of the last 3 years for the online application forms. Two years ago, when we ran this poll in 1999, we advised our clients to only use the online applications offered by the schools, Multi-App, Embark, and GradAdvantage if they did not more than very seldomly encounter problems with emails and attachments. We found that clients who sometimes sent us attachments that came through as "goobledy gook" were the same ones that had trouble with the online applications. Today, however, we generally encourage all of our clients to use the online applications. My how quickly this technology seems to have matured!

Online Versus Paper Applications

Once again this year, our clients had much more success with the online versions and the business schools' servers did a much better job of handling the large load of applications that generally come in immediately prior to the admissions deadlines. We have also found that the schools are very understanding of the occasional formatting issues that afflict their online applications.

The business schools are seeking out applicants who will thrive in the new, high tech world. Their admissions committees are more interested in seeking out candidates who are technologically proficient than they are with candidates who present very neatly-formatted applications. While neat applications are helpful, you may note that the Northwestern (Kellogg) application encouraged the use of both sides of paper for the printing of essays. Hence, the admissions directors are not overly concerned with formatting.

We believe that it is only a matter of time before other high-profile MBA programs join MIT (Sloan) in requiring their applicants to complete online applications.

Types of Online Applications

Propriety school online systems

Our clients have indicated that these systems tend to be more unwieldy and less user friendly than Embark, Multi-App, and GradAdvantage. Fortunately, these schools tend to be extremely understanding of formatting issues. Even more so than the other online application systems, we strongly encourage our clients to frequently save the work they have done on these online application systems.

"My experience with the online application process is that it takes too long because somewhere along the line the browser locks up and you have to start all over again." – DN, USA


Amongst clients and poll respondents who have used both Embark and Multi-App, Embark was slightly favored for its ease of use.

"I definitely preferred Embark. Multi-App was slower and not as well structured."
PZ, Germany

"I have used both Embark and Multi-App. Embark is clearly superior and has much fewer bugs." – RS, USA


Multi-App was not without its supporters too and we have certainly had many clients who have been satisfied with this online application service.

"I believe Embark and Multi-App are both very good online applications. I have no complaints about either one." – SG, India


This online application service is currently only accepted by a small number of MBA programs. Examples of some of these business schools include: MIT (Sloan), William & Mary, and Washington University (Olin). The company's website claims that it will shortly be adding many more schools including Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, Rotterdam, Dartmouth (Tuck), and Columbia. GradAdvantage was a choice presented to our poll respondents. However, as can be seen from the poll results above, no one selected this product. We have had a few clients use GradAdvantage and we have yet to hear anything negative about its online application process.

Fall 2001 Update

GradAdvantage and Multi-App are no longer offering online application services. Your choices a mere year after this poll was published for online MBA applications are Embark and the schools' proprietary online systems.

The schools clearly favor the use of online applications over the traditional paper ones. The use of reduced application fees for those filing online signals the growing preference of so many admissions committees.

Even with the strides being made with the online systems, it is still imperative to periodically back up your work even if it means printing out the documents or copying and pasting online text into a Word file. Witness the November 20 extension of Wharton's first application deadline – due to the apparent crash of their online system and the resulting loss of applicant data.

Fall 2002 Update

Very few clients report problems with Embark. The admissions committees are still not overly concerned with formatting due to continued "bugs" in the on-line application process.

We update our poll periodically and we will continue to archive the results of the previous polls so you can see how other business school applicants voted on those topics as well.

Do you have an idea for a poll topic or any comments on our analysis? Please email us with your thoughts.

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