Home Madrid language schools Wall Street Journal misses the big picture on MBA applications

Wall Street Journal misses the big picture on MBA applications


Applications are down 20% for Northwestern Kellogg’s full-time MBA program. But elsewhere, they are on the rise – and in some cases, on the rise. Photo file

The headline screamed, “MBA applications at some of the nation’s top colleges have dropped this year. “

The story began: “Some of the most well-known MBA programs in the United States have seen steep declines or low interest from potential applicants this year, following an admission cycle in 2020 at the during which applications have skyrocketed. “

Corn The Wall Street Journalthe story of which took place on Monday, September 20 is misleading at best. This is clear from the data. But it is also essential to consider the context.


In addition to our annual reports on graduating 2023 profiles in several top MBA programs (see the most recent here and here), Poets and Quants examined the 2020-2021 application data by comparing peer schools with each and comparing historical data. Of the top 15 schools for which we have data, only Northwestern Kellogg School of Management (-20.3%) and Columbia Business School (-6.3%) recorded declines. For the other 13 schools, applications were up – and in some cases, up. Michigan Ross School of Business received a record 4,003 applications, an increase of 56% from the previous year. Duke Fuqua School of Business saw a 12.1% increase, one of the top 25 six schools with double-digit growth. MIT Sloan School of Management recorded 12% growth. Yale School of Management grew 12.3%. Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management grew 12.4%. The Dartmouth Tuck School of Business grew 11%.

The 13 schools with the increases had a total of more than 5,000 additional requests this year compared to last year. The average increase was over 380 additional requests, just under 12%.

In other words, the title on this the Wall Street newspaper the story could have been more precisely “The MBA applications in most of the best business schools are back in place”.

WSJ the story provides some context, its author, Patrick Thomas, says on LinkedIn, saying that they “are doing our best to address the many factors that contribute to the mix of schools’ results. We also note that the strength of the ‘economy and labor market might drop nominations this next round as well. ” WSJ mentions increases at NYU Stern School of Business (8.4%) and Duke Fuqua. But they play down those increases, ignore Michigan’s stratospheric increase, and neglect to mention that top schools like the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Chicago Booth School of Business haven’t even published their class profiles yet.

The biggest problem is that the story is behind a paywall. Most people don’t subscribe to WSJ, so they read the title, the play, and the first two sentences and that’s the message they get.


Either way, it’s a mistake to extrapolate the industry-wide omen from Kellogg’s 20% drop in applications, as 2020 was an incomparable abnormal cycle. March and April 2020 were a chaotic and deeply uncertain time. Many B schools have temporarily lifted their testing requirements to help calm the waters. Kellogg was the first M7 school to do so, even waiving requirements for language tests such as TOEFL or IELTS. Then it took it a step further, making waves by allowing applicants rejected in previous rounds to come back and seek reconsideration in the same admissions cycle. The school also extended its application deadlines, extending its cycle 3 by almost two months.

The combination of strategies under first-year dean Francesca Cornelli resulted in a class of 2022 that was 85 people, or 18%, larger than the class of 2021, and wiped out losses which included a 15.5% drop. applications between the two previous admission cycles. . Overall, the school received the most applications for a cycle, 5,813, a 54% jump from the previous year.

This year, as the school reverted to more conventional admissions policies, applications naturally declined. The drop was about 20% from that record, but still higher than any Kellogg admissions cycle since 2014. It was 22.6% higher than the last “normal” cycle of 2019. Is- good that, combined with the slight 6% drop at Columbia Business School, the only other top 25 school to still report a decline in applications – a sign of the death of the MBA, as the WSJ suggests? Barely.

Emily Haydon, Acting Assistant Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Kellogg, writes to P&Q: “Kellogg’s application volume in 2021 was 4,632, the highest since 2014, the first year of data in our current admissions system and database, with the exception of 2020 when, during first months of COVID-19 when:

  • The GMAT / GRE has become optional;
  • The school has extended the application deadline by two months.

“These decisions, driven by empathy for potential applicants during a global pandemic, resulted in an unusually high number of applicants during the 2020 cycle.”


Admissions consultants take a nuanced view. Barbara Coward, founder of MBA 360 Admissions, writes on LinkedIn that schools reporting increasingly high GMAT averages may actually reduce the volume of applications by intimidating potential applicants. “By far the most popular question I get asked by prospective MBA students is whether I think they have a chance to get in,” Coward writes. “The increasingly high GMAT scores are impressive, but they intimidate prospective students who prefer to stick to the security of the status quo. We leave populations behind because they feel they don’t belong ?

“Let’s allow more people to see themselves more in these prestigious institutions. I have a feeling that would do a lot for the volume of applications.”

But others doubt the WSJthe affirmation of a decline. Candy Lee Laballe, founder of the Madrid company LaBalle Admissions, says she saw no evidence of a slowdown – quite the contrary. “Hard to believe the numbers are dropping like me, and everyone I know in this gig has been drowning in work since class of 2023,” LaBalle said. P&Q. In fact, a leading business school with an early decision deadline has seen its applications skyrocket this month by over 40%.

Paul Bodine, founder and president of Admit, look at the big picture. He says he initially had lower expectations for the final cycle after the 2019-20 season app boom.

“As John Byrne and several admissions directors have noted, the wait was an average year this cycle in terms of applicant volume, as Covid is still wreaking havoc in many parts of the world,” Bodine said. . P&Q. “Repressed demand was expected to explode Following year (cycle 2022-23). It seemed plausible to me a few months ago, but now I’m not so sure: the Delta variant and the surprisingly high number of non-vaccines, combined with the hot job market and the still slow pace of vaccinations in many countries. many parts of the world, suggest to me that we may not return to “normal” candidate volumes until 2023-24.

“But I don’t agree with the doomsday prophets who say that the volume of applicants in the top 10 schools will be never recover. I still think the ROI and “network effects” of a top 10 MBA’s remain convincing. Geopolitical factors such as declining applications from China may suppress the volume of international applicants in the short term, but in the long term, I see the volume of applicants in top MBA programs returning to historical trend lines. “


Betsy Massar, founder of Masters admissions, said WSJ took the plunge by declaring a slowdown in MBA applications.

“I’m screaming at the picking!” ” she says. “I think it’s too early to talk about the long-term trends for the 2023 class. I know it doesn’t make the headlines to say things are normalizing, but they are. We are seeing to- beating depending on whether a test is But cycle to cycle – even cycle to cycle – doesn’t give us real evidence. Isn’t that what business schools are trying to do? ‘teach ?

“We need to at least see the numbers in the Class of 2024 application numbers to make general statements.
As for the comments circulating on the Internet about the value of an MBA, some are logical: the price to pay is high and growing, and the opportunity cost can be significant. Specialized master’s programs increase the graduate student population and cannibalize traditional two-year programs. But 2024 was never going to be an explosive year. It never added.



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