ONE ADMISSIONS RULE CHANGE: IT WON’T HURT TO APPLY IF YOU ARE UNEMPLOYED
Another unusual twist due to the turmoil, adds Abraham. “We also may see scholarships awarded much later than usual because of scholarship recipients trading up and releasing funds that had been previously awarded to someone else,” she says.
Meantime, admission directors are looking at today’s candidates differently as evidenced by some of the flexibility they’ve shown on test scores and application deadlines. As Kate Smith, assistant director of admissions at Kellogg, said at a webinar yesterday sponsored by mbaMission: “This might be a time when our typical years of experience change…We are opening the aperture to think differently about the classes we build because we are going to see what happens in this cycle.”
Several others recall the years of the Great Recession when they looked at unemployed applicants differently. To lose a job and then apply to business school often unfurls a red flag of sorts on an application. Not now. “We saw applications from unemployed and furloughed applicants in the Great Recession,” says Bruce DelMonico, admissions director at Yale SOM, in the same webinar. “We adjusted how we looked at work back then. In Round 3 and going forward we will be similarly sensitive to the forces at play.”
‘LITTLE TO LOSE BY SEEING IF YOU CAN GET INTO A HIGHER-RANKED PROGRAM’
Amanda Carlson, assistant dean of admissions at Columbia Business School, recalled that she had lost her job during the 2001 recession. “I was in my 20s, living in New York and had what I thought was the greatest job in the world but the economy fell into shambles,” she told applicants during the webinar. In August of 2001, little more than four months after a promotion, she was laidoff. “It feels so personal. You feel like the world is caving in on you. The world was a really, really scary place just like it is now. It has nothing to do with performance, your work or your value.”
At the time, Carlson says she was going part-time to graduate school and used her credit card down to buy seven more classes. Things turned around and in early 2002, she was given a role in CBS’ admissions office. “I know it feels hard and personal but you don’t know what good things are going to come around the corner,” says Carlson, who adds that a layoff in this environment would not be considered a negative on an application now.
So who should take advantage of the changes? “If admitted clients are thinking of trading up,” adds Abraham, “we advise them to consider their goals and the advantages and costs of going to a higher-ranked program. If they have no scholarship money from their accepting schools, it really makes sense for them to try for that “better” program. If they have a meaningful scholarship offer, they usually want to weigh the pros and cons a little more carefully, but if they have dream programs that they didn’t apply to and that are still accepting applications, they have little to lose by seeing if they can get in. We are also encouraging our clients who were planning to apply next cycle, especially round 1, to consider applying for this year. And several are doing exactly that.”