Risk and uncertainty can be bad for business; speeding up project completion times can help a firm stand out from its competitors. So the strategy the Tippie College of Business, at the University of Iowa, is applying to applications to its full-time MBA programme should surprise no one—and may delight some of its prospective students.
In addition to its usual application deadlines, Tippie now offers what it calls the “one and done.” Applicants in that pool submit their paperwork ahead of time, then have a 24-hour period to get to know the school. This includes an interview, either in person or online; those who visit the campus also have a chance to meet with students and sit in on classes. At the end of the day the admissions committee meets, notes in hand, and the next day the student has an admission or rejection in hand.
The first "one-and-done" event was held in June, and drew such a strong response that Tippie is now offering several versions: one on campus, one for international applicants, and one in nearby cities, such as Minneapolis. Jodi Schafer, who is moving from the role of director of admissions to that of director of the MBA programme, says the advantages for the would-be student are matched by those for the school. Prospective students that might not otherwise have considered Tippie are giving it a look, she says. And the quick decisions mean the admissions committee has more information on the make-up of the MBA class by the time it starts sorting through the regular pool of applicants.
Unlike the traditional application, the one-and-done does not require an essay. It was dropped, Ms Schafer says, partly in the interests of time and partly to make things still easier for applicants who might not otherwise bother. So far the admissions committee has been so satisfied with the results that they are re-evaluating the necessity of an essay for even traditional applicants. But, Ms Schafer admits, a good essay might win an otherwise marginal student admission.
Tippie is not the pioneer of admissions decisions with quick turnarounds. At Wake Forest University in North Carolina, applicants to the business school's graduate programmes have been able to participate in "Done in a Day" events since the mid-2000s; these applicants are also spared an essay, but have to defend their decision to apply before an admissions panel. Mason School of Business, at the College of William & Mary in Virginia, has offered one-day admission decisions in the past. More schools may be taking up a streamlined application process: a boon for those who like to know quickly if they will be able to pursue that MBA, less cheering for the industry of consultants that help edit application essays.