Stanford GSB | Mr. Lost Trader
GMAT 760, GPA 3.93
Stanford GSB | Mr. Start-Up To F500
Yale | Mr. Consulting Escapist
GMAT 760, GPA 3.2
Stanford GSB | Mr. FinTech
GMAT Not Taken Yet, GPA 3.5
INSEAD | Mr. Aerospace Manufacturer
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Yale | Ms. Business Start-Up
GRE 312, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. Big Fish, Small Pond
GMAT 790, GPA 3.88
Stanford GSB | Mr. Startup Founder
GMAT 700, GPA 3.12
Yale | Mr. Army Infantry Officer
GMAT 730, GPA 2.83
Said Business School | Ms. Ordinary Applicant
GMAT 710, GPA 3.37
Harvard | Mr. M&A Post-Startup
GMAT 710, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. Banking To Startup
GMAT 760, GPA 3.7
Wharton | Mr. Master’s To MBA
GMAT 760, GPA 3.4
USC Marshall | Mr. Versatile Entrepreneur
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3
Stanford GSB | Ms. Education Non-profit
GRE 330, GPA 3.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Real Estate Developer
GMAT 740, GPA 3.12
Stanford GSB | Mr. Failed Entrepreneur
GMAT 750, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Immigrant Entrepreneur
GMAT 750, GPA 3.8
Wharton | Mr. Fintech Entrepreneur
GMAT 710, GPA 3.04
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Cornell Hopeful
GMAT Targeting 700+, GPA 2.5
Tuck | Mr. Crisis Line Counselor
GMAT 700, GPA 3.1
Stanford GSB | Mr. Digital Engineer
GMAT 700, GPA 2.7
Harvard | Mr. IB/PE To Fintech
GMAT 740, GPA 3.14
USC Marshall | Mr. Supply Chain Guru
GMAT GMAT Waiver, GPA 2.6
McCombs School of Business | Mr. First-Time MBA
GRE 332, GPA 3.3
HEC Paris | Ms. Public Health
Chicago Booth | Mr. Music Into Numbers
GMAT 730, GPA 3.8

Cornell, Virginia Buck Down Trend In Apps

Cornell's Johnson School of Management is ranked 15th among the best U.S. business schools by Poets&Quants.

With MBA applications down at most top business schools, the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University is reporting a nearly 15% rise in applications to 2,100 this year from 1,791.

The jump follows an 8% drop in applications to Johnson a year earlier, but is unusual among a large number of prominent schools that are reporting declines. Only a four-hour drive away from Johnson’s campus in Ithaca, N.Y., for example, Columbia Business School suffered a 19% plunge in MBA applications—the difference of 34 percentage points.

Caulk up the difference to a more aggressive admissions recruitment strategy by Johnson. The school was able to buck the down trend by holding more recruiting efforts for potential applicants, including more than a dozen admissions events in far flung locations around the world, from Asia to Latin America, and opening the door to a larger number of MBA candidates in its applicant pool. Johnson sent acceptances to 519 applicants, about 75 more than last year.

“We decided to give out more offers this year because it was more important to us that we have a one in five chance of getting someone,” Christine Sneva, the director of admissions and financial aid, told Bloomberg BusinessWeek. “We were willing to take a chance on that because, with such a small class, if you get one of those five people, it can make a huge difference.”

Cornell was among just a handful of top schools reporting an increase. The University of Virginia’s Darden School also bucked the down trend. Applications for Darden’s two-year MBA program rose by 9%, a rise attributed to higher rankings and a new marketing plan. And Stanford’s Graduate School of Business managed to eke out a small increase to 6,716 applications, up from 6,616 a year earlier–much better than the 8.9% drop Stanford experienced for the Class of 2013.

Otherwise, Cornell and Darden were able to do what few top business schools could in the past year: attract a healthy and substantial increase in applicants. Besides Columbia, the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business experienced a 17% drop in applications to 2,436, with MIT’s Sloan School saw a decline of almost 8% to 4,133.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek reported today (Sept. 7) that at least a dozen of its top 30 business schools saw their full-time MBA applications decline year-over-year. So far the most dramatic declines have surfaced at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, where applications plummeted 21%, Columbia (19%), and Michigan State’s Broad School (18%).

In an interview with BusinessWeek, Timothy Smith, the senior associate director of admissions and financial aid at the Kelley School, attributed the decline in applications to increased competition from rival business schools and rival programs. “The pool has been fragmented most aggressively this year with part-time, online, and other options,” Smith told the magazine. “There is no doubt about it, the number of students hasn’t increased, and there are more players at the table. At the same time, [employer] sponsorship for full-time MBA programs is almost nonexistent, and doing an MBA part-time or online can be an attractive offer for some students, especially when there is funding available.”

At Northwestern University’s Kellogg School, full-time MBA applications were down 7% to 5,071 from 5,459 a year earlier–but Kellogg’s one-year MBA program saw a 6% increase in applications and increased the class size by 15%, demonstrating that the caliber of applications was strong.

The double-digit declines at Columbia and NYU have been attributed to massive layoffs on Wall Street and in the financial sector.


About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.