MBA Applications Surge

A piece in The Wall Street Journal highlights surging MBA applications this fall.

It’s one of the laws of physics. Or at least one of the laws of physics as according to Ivy Coach. Maybe not according to Newton. When the economy tanks, applications to graduate schools soar. This law of physics applies — in particular — to our nation’s elite graduate business schools. Let’s face it: does it surprise any of our readers that applications to the likes of Harvard Business School, the Stanford Graduate School of Business, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and their peers are up big time this fall? Is it any surprise whatsoever that with unemployment at a high and with young people stuck at home with little better to do than study for the GMAT that they’d decide this was the year, of all years, to apply to business school?

Journalist Tells MBA Applicants to Brace for Most Competitive Year Ever

As Patrick Thomas reports for The Wall Street Journal in a piece entitled “M.B.A. Applicants, Brace for ‘Most Competitive Year Ever’,” “Getting into an M.B.A. program might be tough in 2021, following an admissions cycle that U.S. business schools and consultants say is shaping up to be the most competitive in recent memory. B-school applications for fall 2020 surged at the start of the pandemic as students sought ways to ride out a tenuous job market. Now, full-time residential M.B.A. programs continue to report higher application volumes for next fall and expect to have fewer spots to offer than in years past, since schools have allowed many international students to defer enrollment due to virus-related travel restrictions…Space is already limited in many programs, after some admitted students put off enrolling earlier in the pandemic. The deferral rate—the percentage of applicants who defer enrollment divided by the number of accepted applicants—for all students climbed from 2% in 2019 to 6% in 2020, according to a recent report from the nonprofit Graduate Management Admission Council.”

But More Applications Alone Do Not Make MBA Admission More Competitive

But our loyal readers should not fret or fear because, as they know well, more applications and lower admission rates do not — in itself — mean it’s more difficult to get in this year. Years such as 2020 tend to attract more unqualified applicants than a typical year and more applicants with subpar college grades, unimpressive work experience, and below average GMAT scores don’t make an applicant pool more competitive. The addition of these applicants to the batch just makes MBA admission sound more competitive, a notion reinforced when respected journalists urge applicants to “brace for the most competitive year ever.” Our retort? Brace for nothing. Unless Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger tells you to brace. In that case, prepare for a smooth water landing.

 
 

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