Georgetown McDonough | Mr. Navy Vet
GRE 310, GPA 2.6
Kellogg | Ms. Retail To Technology
GMAT 670, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. Aspiring FinTech Entrepreneur
GMAT 750, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Fill In The Gaps
GRE 330, GPA 3.21
Darden | Mr. Military Communications Officer
GRE Not taken yet, GPA 3.4
INSEAD | Mr. Behavioral Changes
GRE 336, GPA 5.8/10
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Texas Recruiter
GMAT 770, GPA 3.04
USC Marshall | Mr. Strategy Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 4.0
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Qualcomm Quality
GMAT 660, GPA 3.4
HEC Paris | Mr. Introverted Dancer
GMAT 720, GPA 4.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Entertainment Agency
GMAT 750, GPA 3.8
Chicago Booth | Mr. Quant
GMAT 750, GPA 3.7
Ross | Mr. Top 25 Hopeful
GMAT 680, GPA 3.3
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Well-Traveled Nonprofit Star
GRE 322, GPA 3.0
Yale | Mr. Gay Social Scientist
GMAT 740, GPA 2.75 undergrad, 3.8 in MS
Wharton | Mr. MBA When Ready
GMAT 700 (expected), GPA 3.3
London Business School | Mr. Low Undergrad GPA
GMAT 760, GPA 65/100 (1.0)
Chicago Booth | Ms. Hotel Real Estate
GMAT 730, GPA 3.75
Chicago Booth | Mr. EduTech
GRE 337, GPA 3.9
Columbia | Mr. Infra-Finance
GMAT 710, GPA 3.68
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Vigor
GMAT 740, GPA 3.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Hanging By A Thread
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Ms. Comeback Kid
GMAT 780, GPA 2.6
London Business School | Mr. Family Investment Fund
GMAT 790, GPA 3.0
HEC Paris | Ms. Freelancer
GMAT 710, GPA 5.3
MIT Sloan | Mr. Sans-Vertebrae
GMAT 730, GPA 3.78
INSEAD | Mr. Business Manager
GMAT 750, GPA 3.0

Enter The ‘Rank-Climbers’: The Newest MBA Applicants Of The Pandemic

Schools that have stretched the admissions cycle by two months or more have effectively created a COVID-19 round for candidates who had no intention of applying now


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.”


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.”


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.