The next MBA class admitted by the Sloan School of Management will be Web-savvy without a doubt. Their first test comes with the admissions application, which this year needs to be submitted via the Web. Sloan is the first school to consider only those applications submitted on-line, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), a non-profit group representing more than 100 of the world's top business schools.
Sloan is using a new program, debuting this month, called GradAdvantage. Through this new program, prospective students can easily apply to more than one business school without having to re-key their basic information. In addition, Sloan saves money and time.
"In our traditional application process, we printed and mailed 30,000 applications," said Rod Garcia, Sloan's director of admissions. "This is a significant step--eliminating the input and storing of 3,500 applications as well as all of the paper waste and postage and mailing costs. In addition, the new system eliminates having to match a student's application with their GMAT score which used to come in separately."
The original on-line application process was developed by the company Collegescape, in cooperation with Sloan. Collegescape was founded by a former MIT graduate student, John Pyrovolakis, who was an entrant in the 1996 $50K business plan competition. The GMAC brought together Peterson's, the on-line publisher of education and career application information, the Educational Testing Service, which administers the GMAT testing program, and Collegescape, to further develop the program into GradAdvantage. Peterson's acquired Collegescape in the process.
"We've just made the graduate business school applicant's job a whole lot easier," said Nicole Chestang, vice president and executive secretary of the GMAC.
To apply via the web, prospective students need to open the GradAdvantage website , set up a user name and password, and begin filling out the form. Applicants can save their work and keep coming back to it until they are ready to submit it. With the exception of submitting references and transcripts, the whole process is on-line. Admission decisions will be forwarded via mail.
"These days it's easier to find a computer than a typewriter," said Mr. Garcia. "Incoming Sloan students have an average of four and a half years of business experience and most are currently working in business. Because of that experience, most prospective students have access to a computer at their workplace as well as at home. Public libraries and Internet cafes also provide public access and people can borrow a neighbor or friend's computer." Exceptions will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
"We're taking the natural next step from using the Internet as an information source to using it for transactions," said Mr. Garcia.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 12, 1998.