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This experience can also help strengthen a student’s professional circle. “You’re truly going to gain an international network,” says Paul Lanzillotti, the founder and co-owner of Amerasia Consulting Group, which helps people get into undergraduate and business schools.
The fact that it topped HBS, even ever so slightly, was not an unexpected outcome. “I’m not surprised to see GSB top HBS on this list, just because Stanford seems to be edging Harvard on most lists,” says Adam Hoff, a principal with Amerasia Consulting Group. “GSB is a more selective school by the numbers, it has a smaller class size and thus feels more exclusive, and it seems to be a ‘hotter’ school given certain macro cultural trends. We’re in a world that seems to turn on the wheel of Silicon Valley, a focus on social impact, a brogues and chinos vibe over suits and wing tips. I know that among my clients who got into both, most choose Stanford. That said, I still have far more people who go into this process with HBS as their top choice and who don’t even apply to Stanford than I do the opposite.”
Admissions consultants say that Wharton’s Round 1 admissions decisions are more focused than ever on whether the school believes a candidate can achieve his or her post-MBA career goals. Highly qualified applicants who tell the school they want to use the degree to make what could be perceived a more difficult career switch are getting dinged, says Adam Hoff of Amerasia Consulting Group.
For a pulse of the applicant market right now we turned to one of the more outspoken and candid MBA admission consultants who has been advising graduate school candidates for many years. Adam Hoff, a principal of the Amerasia Consulting Group, knows the business from two angles. He had been associate director of admissions at his alma mater, Pepperdine University, where he reviewed more than 1,000 files in each of the three years he served in the job.
Stanford’s win over Harvard doesn’t come as a shock to Adam Hoff, an MBA admissions consultant with Amerasia Consulting Group. “This doesn’t really surprise me because Stanford has long struck me as being more curatorial in building a class,” believes Hoff. ” It’s a much smaller school that puts a huge premium on fit and how students will mesh together – I’ve long used the analogy that while most admissions offices are like customs agents (stamping the appropriate passports as they come through), Stanford’s is like a wedding planner putting together the seating chart for the reception dinner.
Unlike Round 2, the first round of MBA application deadlines typically has a long ramp-up time. It is filled with disciplined candidates who have made the decision to get an MBA a year or more earlier—and started the process months in advance.“Round 2 is typically a race to the finish line,” says Adam Hoff of Amerasia Consulting Group. “This year is no different. We’re all burning the midnight oil for sure.”
As Hoff concedes, “There is a prevailing theory out there that HBS is trying to drive admissions consultants out of the process. I’d like to respond to that – as much to Harvard as to potential clients. It’s self-serving to say this, of course, but in all my years in admissions, I never felt more valuable to my clients than I did for my HBS folks last year. And not because I told them what to write or gave them some secret formula, but because I helped them find what made them special to begin with and then I gave them the permission and confidence to believe in that and to articulate it clearly and with assurance.