By now, you may know that applications are down this year for most business schools. Are you taking advantage of the dip?
Business school applications are always a wild card. Despite the data and historical trends, there really is no way to predict with certainty how many people will apply each year. What we do know, however is that when the economy is roaring (as measured mostly by a low unemployment rate), there are generally fewer applicants to business school. This makes sense if you think about low unemployment as a supply and demand cycle. When workers are scarce and jobs are necessary, wages rise and prevents people from leaving those “good paying” jobs to go back to school. Of course the opposite also happens. When people are out of work and PhDs are working at McDonald’s, MBA applications soar.
Right now there are a historically low number of applicants to top business schools.
From a pure numbers perspective, therefore, it should be a good time to go back, especially if you would normally be worried about your chances to get into a top school. The only problem with this logic is a bit counter-intuitive. Although applications are down, the quality of the applicants in the pool is still high. Therefore, it seems a 500 GMAT is a challenge no matter when you apply. Sure there are fewer overall applicants, but there seems to always be just enough top performers to force a competitive environment, particularly among the elite schools.
If you find yourself with some profile challenges (low test scores, poor grades, mediocre career experience, etc,) you might consider playing the numbers game yourself and use this year to put in extra applications.
At the end of the day, schools need to fill seats, and if you add a few extra schools to the mix, you might just find some luck. This also means round three will perhaps be a bit less painful than usual. Schools with good GMAT averages can afford to take a flyer on someone to fill that last seat or two vs. leaving themselves with diminished revenues in their coffers. Talk with your consultant about which additional schools could make sense for you.