Tepper has just announced the completion of a $200 Million center for entrepreneurship at the center of campus. Will there ever be an end to the great MBA facilities showdown?
The past decade has seen an incredible surge in bigger, better MBA facilities across the nation and the world. Once this kind of arms race begins, it’s hard to stop, because students quickly get spoiled and applicants quickly come to expect cutting edge offerings----a real “nothing but the best will do” approach to school selection.
While at the undergraduate level, there are several bastion institutions holding tight to wooden desk and chalkboard traditions, it’s been more difficult to do this at the graduate level. One reason is, the perception of antiquated buildings and finishes don’t equate to the fast-paced nature of the “speed of business.” This perception can negatively influence prospective students’ opinions of an MBA program to the point that they might even rule out a particular school purely based on the physical environment where they will spend their two years. Additionally, MBA applicants are usually five or more years into their post-undergrad careers and have become accustomed to class-A office workspace. This acclimation can make it very difficult for them to choose a school whose classroom spaces aren’t up to date.
It seems very superficial for applicants to make decisions based on aesthetics, but the data backs up the premise.
Just this past season, for example, University of Texas saw a surge in matriculation after the completion of a brand new, state-of-the-art facility. Note this was not a surge in applications, but actually an increase in students choosing to attend McCombs, which implies that applicants made their decisions after visiting campus and seeing the building. This kind of measurable impact influences other schools to do whatever is necessary to raise funds to compete. New facilities can even put schools on the map who were less known. Rumor has it that Scheller College of Business at Georgia Tech has plans to build an 18-story MBA tower in the heart of Midtown Atlanta, which should really put them on the map given their already enviable location nearby dozens of Fortune 500, 100 and 50 companies.
Despite the allurement of super-sexy skyscrapers, however, MBA applicants should guard themselves against sacrificing fit for facility.
While great facilities are nice, it would be far better to go to a school with tired spaces, yet one that aligns perfectly with your profile and career vision, vs. one with a brand new building, which is unable to get you what you want either academically or professionally.