The troubled economy has had an impact on almost everyone, and MBA applicants are no exception. Admissions trends are changing rapidly. Here are a few things that potential MBAs can expect from the current market:
Applications Are Up
Recessions almost always have an impact on grad school applications–particularly MBA program applications. When the economy gets tough, people tend to head back to school in hopes of securing a better degree. Business school provides a safe place for people to weather the financial storm. Everyone always hopes that by the time they earn their degree, the job market will be back on track and ready for new grads.
The Applicant Pool Is Different
Although MBA applicant pools do change from year to year, current pools are changing more rapidly than normal. Business schools are seeing more laid-off applicants than ever before, particularly from the finance sector. Applicants who are straight out of college are also on the rise. Some schools, such as the Johnson School at Cornell University, are reporting a 10 to 15 percent increase in domestic applicants. International applicants, on the other hand, have decreased due to the fact that many international students are having difficulty acquiring non-U.S student loans.
Competition Is More Severe
Changing applicant pools have led to stiffer competition than usual for MBA applicants. This is especially true for applicants who are applying to top-ranked programs. With more people interested in an MBA, business schools everywhere are realizing that they can be more selective than ever before. Individuals who bring less to the table (no professional experience, low GMAT scores, or less than satisfactory GPAs) are finding it difficult to compete with seasoned professionals who have worked in business for years and are still hungry for career success. This doesn’t mean that younger students do not have a chance–quite the contrary. Business schools around the country are actively courting younger students. In fact, the number of students admitted to MBA programs straight out of college has increased significantly in the last five years.
Admissions Committees Want Different Things
Every admissions committee is looking for something different in applicants. However, there are a few things that nearly every committee desires regardless of economic changes. The first is diversity. Business schools like to see cultural diversity in the applicant pool and among those who are accepted. The second thing that admissions committees like to see is good analytical skills. This can usually be demonstrated through a good GPA or high GMAT score. The final thing that every admissions committee admires is qualifications. Well-rounded students who can show that they are highly qualified through the use of essays, recommendation letters, test scores, and other aspects of the application are much more likely to gain acceptance than the average applicant.
Guest post from Karen Schweitzer, the About.com Guide to Business School. Karen also writes for OnlineDegreePrograms.org.