AIGAC’s Response to COVID-19

March 26, 2020

The Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC) extends our deepest condolences to all those who have been adversely impacted by the global pandemic, COVID-19.

This has been one of the defining events of our lifetime and touches everyone. Of course, there’s no greater cost to families and society than the loss of lives in the pandemic’s hotspots of Italy, China, United States, Spain – and elsewhere. We share your feelings of uncertainty impacting families, communities, and businesses around the world.

Our association was established in 2006 with a mission to support the educational goals of the next generation with the utmost integrity. We’re ‘future-focused’ and believe that young people, tomorrow’s leaders, can – and indeed will – make the world a better place.

While we know that a graduate education provides the springboard for a lifetime of such opportunities, we never imagined that a real-life case study would present an alarming call-to-action to do so.

In the center of this storm, we may be asking ourselves questions about the product development process, in this case for a vaccine, to prevent the spread of disease or a supply chain approach to a faster cure.

If anything, this crisis has taught us the importance of the potential of well-prepared, socially responsible talent to tackle the biggest challenges of our time.

We will come through this together and with an even stronger resolve to support future changemakers. The world needs you more than ever!

With that in mind, we are looking forward to the members-only AIGAC Annual Conference 2020, which will be held virtually on May 18 & 19. The interactive forum for members and invited guests will enable participants to directly engage in dialogue with association colleagues and admissions directors about the impact of the pandemic on graduate applications, as well as standard programming such as admissions case studies. If you haven’t registered yet, please do so here!  

“As the world is shifting by the minute, the conference will provide AIGAC members topical information from thought leaders in the industry,” says Nupur Gupta, AIGAC president. “We are pleased to continue our long-held tradition of trusted leadership in the graduate admissions industry.” 

Finally, please do look out for one another and take the time to check in on the physical and emotional wellbeing of a relative or friend. We invite and encourage AIGAC members to share their thoughts on our members’ social media forum.

Be well!

AIGAC Releases 2019 MBA Applicant Survey: The Human Connection

For immediate release: May 8, 2019

The 2019 MBA Applicant Survey, released today by the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC), confirms that human interaction is a competitive advantage in today’s digital world.

Applicants increasingly value the opportunity to speak to current MBA students in school selection and decision-making process. In addition, they continue to seek to advance their own career while making a positive difference in the world.

It is interesting to note that applicants are also applying to more schools this year: 4.5 schools on average, up from 3.8 last year.

Fewer applicants are being asked to write their own letters of recommendation this year than ever before, driven largely by standardized letters of recommendation. However, many still experience pain points throughout the admissions journey.

  • “XX was one of my top choice schools and I didn’t even apply because they require a unique essay from recommenders.”

The survey also reveals that engaging an admissions consultant enables applicants to increase self-awareness and sharpen their communication skills before starting business school.

  • “This whole process helped me understand more about myself, my limitations and goals. I will always be grateful for this process. It was hard, but worth it.”
  • “My consultant helped me dig deep into my experience and find my story. She helped me articulate my strengths and also communicate my passion and future goals effectively.”

More than 50% of surveyed applicants turn to LinkedIn when doing school research. While only 25% used Instagram, this is an increase from just 19% the year before, indicating that certain social media channels are growing in popularity for connecting with applicants. At the same time, this trend demonstrates that applicants respond to visual communications.

The ten schools ranked highest in getting to know applicants well include, in order:

  1. Vanderbilt University (Owen Graduate School of Management)
  2. Cornell University (Johnson Graduate School of Management)
  3. University of Virginia (Darden School of Business)
  4. Dartmouth College (Tuck School of Business)
  5. University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler Business School)
  6. Duke University (The Fuqua School of Business)
  7. Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper School of Business)
  8. Northwestern University (Kellogg School of Management)
  9. University of Texas at Austin (McCombs School of Business)
  10. Georgetown University (McDonough School of Business)

Interestingly, the survey revealed a consistent trend of female applicants feeling that schools got to know them a little less than male applicants. When rated on a scale of 1-5, women rated schools at 3.07 whereas men rated schools 3.20 with 5 being the school got to know them the best.

2019 Survey Co-Chairs Scott Edinburgh of Personal MBA Coach and Krithika Srinivasan of BYJU’S (Think & Learn Pvt. Ltd.) presented the survey data and insights at this year’s annual conference at the Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business in Washington, DC on May 7. Scott Shrum, Karthik Palaniappan of August Academy, Andrea Sparrey of Sparrey Consulting Group and Barbara Coward of Enrollment Strategies also serve as committee members.

Over 50 admissions consultants from more than a dozen countries, as well as admissions directors and deans from leading business schools around the world, attended this year’s conference. Participating schools include Haas School of Business (University of California  Berkeley), Harvard Business School, Sloan School of Management (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), McDonough School of Business (Georgetown University), Darden School of Business (University of Virginia), Columbia Business School, Booth School of Business (University of Chicago), Ross School of Business (University of Michigan), McCombs School of Business (University of Texas at McCombs) Yale School of Management, London Business School, and many other top-ranked MBA programs in the United States and around the world.

Nearly 1,000 applicants completed the survey between March 16 and April 7, 2019. They include 778 respondents who applied to at least one school. 37% of total survey participants are female and 58% live outside the U.S.

Download a copy of the 2019 MBA Applicant Survey.

Scott Edinburgh – Personal MBA Coach
Krithika Srinivasan – BYJU’s (Think & Learn Pvt. Ltd.)


Scott Shrum – Independent Admissions Consultant
Andrea Sparrey – Sparrey Consulting
Karthik Palaniappan – August Academy
Barbara Coward – Enrollment Strategies

Research Partner Company:
Percept Research




Reaffirms Commitment to Highest Standards of Integrity & Competence

The Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC) was established with the express purpose of setting high ethical standards in the graduate admissions consulting industry and applauds the U.S. Justice Department’s recent actions. Today, our membership consists of more than 200 members around the world who agree to our stated principles of good practice. These principles reflect the standards with which our members relate to their clients, graduate school applicants:

  • Serving their clients and prospective clients in an ethical manner, with professionalism and respect.
  • Insisting that clients write their own essays.
  • Advocating that clients’ recommenders write their own recommendations.
  • Avoiding any relationship that creates or appears to create a conflict of interest.

In order to become an AIGAC member, admissions consultancies must go through a rigorous membership application review that includes an intensive background check and approval by the AIGAC Board of Directors. In addition, a governance committee meets quarterly to reinforce members’ continued commitment to meeting the high standards laid out in the organization’s principles.

The Justice Department’s Operation Varsity Blues case is a reminder that the high-stakes admissions process is not just stressful, but can create opportunities for unethical players. AIGAC exists to provide support and professional development for those helping young people self-reflect through the admissions process and attain the right education in the right way. The current discussion around admissions practices – good and bad – creates an opportunity to provide greater clarity of the trustworthiness and distinguishing character traits of an AIGAC admissions consultant.

We, the leaders and member consultants of AIGAC, reaffirm our commitment to the high standards with which we serve our clients and prospective clients. AIGAC members are dedicated to demystifying the application process and helping applicants gain admission to schools that will enable them to realize sincere goals while upholding the integrity of the admissions process.

“Each year, the association receives membership applications from consultancies that we deny because the consultancy fails to meet our highest ethical standards,” says Brett Haber, president of AIGAC. “The recent admissions scandal demonstrates that not all self-described admissions consultants share high ideals. If someone promises you something that sounds too good to be true, for you or your child, then you should keep looking.”

About AIGAC:

AIGAC was incorporated as a not-for-profit association in November 2006 to set industry standards for graduate admissions consultants. The association’s mission is to support the educational goals of clients and prospective clients with the utmost integrity. Violation of the principles of good practice can result in the termination of membership after review by, and in the sole discretion of, the AIGAC Board of Directors.



The AIGAC Conference Experience – Hear & Read more

Listen to AIGAC member Maria Wich-Vila tell you what the AIGAC conference means to her!

By Donna Bauman, Stratus Admissions Counseling

To say that the AIGAC conference exceeded my expectations is an understatement. I literally have used something I learned from the conference just about EVERY DAY since in my work with my clients and colleagues at Stratus Admissions Counseling. One of the biggest benefits is just having such a deeper understanding of the “culture” and “fit” at each program we visited. They were all amazing programs, but it was clear to me that each has a distinct “personality.” As consultants, we help our clients by sharing these insights and encouraging them to go beyond the surface in discovering these nuances for themselves. (full text here)

Find Your Admissions Consultant:

The Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC) provides insight and transparency into the graduate admissions process and promotes ethical standards and professional development among our members and stakeholders worldwide. Our membership is comprised of over 180 representatives from 16 countries, including Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, India, Israel, Japan, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Ukraine and the United States. Search now for an admissions consultant!