Thursday, April 07, 2005


Standardizing App Forms

This post is primarily written for prospective B-school applicants and for admissions officers.

Filling out a B-school application form may seem to be a piece of cake to many, but until you fill it out, you would not really realize how arduous it is. And, if you apply to multiple schools like me, then it becomes that many times more frustrating! When I was filling out the application forms, I used to wonder: When all schools make use of the standardized test format (GMAT), why can't they make use of a standardized application form format? Weird isn't it? We all know that 95% of the info asked (in the application forms) by all different B-schools is the exact same. Then, why can't these schools co-ordinate amongst themselves and use a common tangible format so the applicants do not waste n hours typing redundant data?

If you didn't already know, Embark offers the option to fill application forms of multiple schools, but the list is far from complete. For instance, among the schools that I applied to, I could use Embark for filling out only my Yale and Michigan apps. That’s just 10% of the top10 schools! At the time, I really felt that if all schools could comply with this kind of standardized format, life would have been sooooo much more easier.

So, here is my advice to future B-School applicants:

1. Fill out the application form of one school such as HBS (the form contains an exhaustive number of questions) and then copy the info into a word file. Then, when you fill the app form for the next school, just cut and paste data in appropriate fields. (FYI, my first app took about 3hrs to complete and the successive ones took less than 1hr).

2. When you go to any schools' admissions event, ask the staff if they can join hands and establish a standardized application form that all schools can use (to make life easy for future applicants). Send e-mails to different schools asking if they have plans of any such standardization.

3. If you have enough time on your hands, try developing a program that does an app form auto fill, and if you have an entrepreneurial bent of mind, try convincing applicants that they should use your program to save time and energy while filling out multiple apps! Maybe you can make some money out of it... :)

What a great job you did in presenting an efficient method of applying. I didn't know about embark. I did the same thing that you mentioned, but I think there are just so many people that need to hear what you wrote.
Really nice!
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