UCLA’s Anderson School managed to swim against the current downtrend in MBA applications by reporting a whopping 22% increase in applicants this year to 3,335 for just 359 seats. It is the largest single jump reported by any prominent school at a time when MBA applications in general are down for the fourth straight year.
Anderson’s results are in direct contrast to California’s other premier business schools. UC-Berkeley’s Haas School saw its full-time MBA applications drop by slightly less than 3%, while Stanford’s Graduate School of Business has reported a slight 1.5% rise.
The increase in UCLA’s applicant pool, along with a decision to shrink the incoming class by 4%, should lead to a significant reduction in Anderson’s acceptance rate—something that will help the school’s rankings in U.S. News & World Report, which includes selectivity as part of its methodology.
iNCREASE IN APPLICANT POOL MAY HAVE BROUGHT ACCEPTANCE RATE DOWN BY FIVE POINTS
In the previous year, when UCLA received 2,727 applications, the school’s acceptance rate was 29%–and it was ranked 15th by U.S. News. If the school’s yield rate—the percentage of admits who enroll—remained the same, Anderson would have reduced its acceptance rate to under 24%–a decline of more than five full percentage points.
Anderson joins Cornell’s Johnson School and the University of Virginia’s Darden School in bucking the downward trend. At Cornell, applications rose by 17%, while at Darden, they increased by 8.9%.
Amidst double-digit declines at such schools as Columbia, Michigan, and New York University, how did Anderson attract so many applicants this year? A spokesperson attributes the gains to a number of reasons, “many of which have been cumulative during the past few years.”
“In addition to the improvements we’ve made to the application process, such as going paperless to expedite the review and approval process, streamlining applications by reducing the number of required essays, and connecting prospective applicants with current students and alumni, we have introduced a host of initiatives that have brought UCLA Anderson international recognition,” says Elise Anderson, director of media relations.
“These range from the Bloomberg connection that brought two industry titans together, UCLA Anderson alumni Bill Gross and Larry Fink, and the first business-school partnership with globally-renowned nonprofit TED followed by the first TED case study competition to the introduction of the dual-degree Global Executive MBA program for Latin America.”
The school also introduced new curriculum reform for full-time MBAs that allows students to delve into their areas of interest more quickly and deeply.
Rob Weiler, associate dean of the full-time program, has also said the school reached out to about 45,000 potential applicants with tailored emails saying not just “apply,” but also “here’s why you should consider us.”
It apparently made a difference.