OTHER TRENDS MAKE HEADING BACK TO B-SCHOOL EVEN MORE COMPELLING
In the current market there are several other factors that make the idea of heading back to business school even more compelling, notes Matt Symonds of Fortuna Admissions, a leading MBA admissions consulting firm. “With the Fed lowering interest rates last week the cost of borrowing to finance your studies has fallen,” he says, “and could well fall further. After many years of tuition increases that exceeded inflation, Harvard Business School and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business have both frozen tuition rates for 2019/20. Expect others to follow suit in the next year.”
And now Columbia Business School and New York University’s Stern School of Business are both accepting the shorter and easier Executive Assessment as an alternative to the tougher and longer GMAT or GRE exams (see NYU Stern To Accept EA For Full-Time MBA Program). Because U.S. News does not count those scores in its ranking formula and does not have any plans to do so, Stern and CBS can accept candidates with lower EA scores without an impact on their MBA ranking. If you tend to score poorly on the GMAT or GRE and want to go to those two schools, just take the Executive Assessment.
Plus, some of the advantages of applying when application volume is low and a recession is on the way can be less visible to candidates. “The biggest argument for applying now is that the mere numbers don’t do the shift justice,” explains Adam Hoff, a Principal at Amerasia Consulting Group, an MBA admissions consulting firm. “Rarely are the top candidates to MBA programs completely unemployed, so it stands to reason that a ‘recession bump’ in application numbers comes in the pockets were an employer might be able to keep or promote a top-flight employee when times are good, but can’t afford to when things tighten up.
‘THE MBA SLUMP MAY NOT LAST LONG’
“This means, at least to me, that once a recession kicks in, you are going to see more PE associates unable to get a third year, more startup founders or early employees kicked back into the pool, high-flyers at companies who outrun the budgets, and even people from hedge funds and VCs who might normally stay in those worlds or go run search funds but now are willing to ‘invest’ in an MBA for two years to ride out poor economic conditions. Basically, the number of people who come back into the applicant pool are disproportionate of high quality. All of which means that when apps are down – during economic high times – your advantage is even greater than it seems based on sheer numbers.”
Don’t expect this advantageous window to stay open all that long. “The MBA slump, coming on the back of record application volumes in previous years, may not last very long,” adds Symonds. “Business schools are particularly prone to seeing an upswing in MBA applications when the market heads south. When the dot-com bubble burst in 2001, Harvard Business School received the highest ever volume of applications the following year. With the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the worst financial crisis since The Great Depression, HBS and many other leading business schools again saw applications soar. Get your timing right, and you then graduate as the economy starts to pick up again, and companies start competing again for top talent.”
If you decide to take advantage of the current slump, Hoff has one piece of advice for you: “The key to applying during a recession is to never show your hand that you are escaping something,” he says. ” Whether you really are going to lose your job or you are suddenly seeing a glass ceiling that wasn’t there before or you simply no longer see undeniable upside, whatever the rationale for deciding an MBA is worth it, you want to always frame it as a highly-desired two-year investment. The schools never see themselves as a place to go because other options dry up or something that you would shrug and settle for, so you can’t ever let that vibe come through. Whether in high times or low, the top MBA programs believe they are special places capable of transforming students, so you always want to frame this as an investment you are making in your best self and something you are extremely passionate about. It’s not something you need because you are scrambling; it is something you want because it will make you so much better.”
‘NEVER BEEN A BETTER TIME TO SUBMIT AN MBA APPLICATION & GET A SCHOLARSHIP
Bottom line: “There’s been no better time for MBA-minded professionals to submit applications and even to expect scholarships if admitted,” adds Min. “That said, like all ‘storms,’ this one will not last indefinitely. Historically, MBA application volume has ebbed and flowed based on external factors. At some point, the clouds will part and the sun will shine brightly on B-school demand. So, if attending an MBA program is even a future possibility, taking action sooner rather than later in this current climate could be a smart move for many candidates.”