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The Truth About MBA Applications

The Truth About MBA Applications
Photograph by Olaf Loose

For some time now, it’s been pretty clear the MBA application process is compromised. Students plagiarize their admissions essays, buy essays from successful applicants, or pay others to write them. It’s gotten bad enough that top schools, including Harvard Business School, have begun reducing the number of essays they require or, in one case, requiring applicants to answer surprise questions on video.

New research suggests the situation may be even worse than we think. A survey (PDF) of more than 350 business school applicants by a group that represents MBA admissions consultants found that 57 percent used consultants during the admissions process—far more than previous studies have found. And 38 percent were asked to write their own letters of recommendation, with some groups—including international applicants and those in finance—reporting far higher numbers.