“Historically, we’ve used this study to understand academic performance, like how many students are likely to struggle in the first MBA semester. That helps us to plan and to provide resources for those students before they know they’re in trouble.” Times have changed, however, and so will UB’s next study. “Our class five years ago looked very different than it does today,” she says. “Five years ago, we had a large concentration of international MBA students. They accounted for nearly 40% of our full-time MBA. Our dual- degree students — those who are in another graduate or professional program on campus or in a joint MBA/ engineering program — represented less than 20% of the class. Today, those numbers have flipped. Just on that basis alone, our validity study needs to be refreshed,” O’Brien says. “It’s a different population. Again, five years ago, 80% of students provided GMAT scores. Compare that to the Fall 2018 semester, where at UB, one-third of the enrolled pool provided GMAT scores, one-third provided GRE scores and the rest either provided other scores or received a waiver exempting them from testing requirements.” O’Brien is quick to note that the higher number of dual-degree students is one of the factors behind UB’s shift in GMAT and GRE score reports. However, revisiting her continual need for data for program decision-making, she believes this shift in test-taking could have risky impact. “I’ve been asking people for years, ‘What are we going to do in a test-optional world?’ More and more schools are building programs that eliminate barriers to entry because we need enrollment. And one of the easiest ways to do that is by rethinking your approach to test requirements, which many applicants consider a big barrier.” To emphasize her point, O’Brien notes that in their new methodology,
Bloomberg BusinessWeek did not include GMAT or GRE scores in the foundational four core dimensions of their 2018 rankings of graduate business schools, a big shift in how rankings are typically calculated. Peer Access, Partner Power
about the issues we face is incredibly powerful.” O’Brien continued: “I think Liaison is in a unique position within our industry because they have critical data resources. For me personally, capitalizing on that was another motivating factor in getting behind the BusinessCAS initiative. Those in graduate management education are data hungry and Liaison is in the perfect position to address this need.” “I think Liaison is in a unique position within our industry because they have critical data resources. ...Those in graduate management education are data hungry and Liaison is in the perfect position to address this need.” Erin O’Brien
In O’Brien’s opinion, one of the best ways to answer the test-
optional question is by working with academic peers and other admissions professionals to address their shared needs and challenges. That’s why she decided to join Liaison’s BusinessCAS advisory board. Liaison, based in Watertown, Massachusetts, is a leading provider of online admissions services for graduate management education and a valuable source of data on global application and admissions trends. The company also has strategic partnerships with ETS and other organizations that are innovating standardized testing to keep it relevant to today’s graduate management admissions leaders. “I need contact with my peers on a regular basis,” O’Brien says. “Liaison’s BusinessCAS advisory board creates a human connection we don’t get sitting in our offices. Knowing there are others I can reach out to and talk with
Students come to UB to deepen their understanding of management concepts and applications that drive effective organizations.
GME: Today & Tomorrow | Fall 2019
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