We finally get to the simple question asked about what was going on with Ross. (Nobody’s gonna ask us a question again, ever, after this! We hope we haven’t put y’all to sleep lately. But what else are we going to talk about during the
agonizing wait lull between deadlines and decisions??)
When we dig into the data — as we’ve done ad nauseum now over the past week+ — we discover that Michigan Ross had a reasonably even-keel 5-year run, from 2006-’07 to 2010-’11 application years (around 2,900 MBA applications/year), and then a big falloff in 2011-’12, down about 500 apps. What caused that cliff?
To answer that, we need to look at the makeup of the candidate pool. Ross saw a surge in international interest in the 2010-’11 season — over 1,600 apps, which appears to be an all-time high for them. And they accepted proportionally more international candidates then too: one-third of that class of 500 students (165) was from abroad. By contrast, only 21% of that Class of 2013 is from the Midwest. That’s a big dip from the standard at Ross, which averages 28%, and was a whopping 36% Midwesterners two years previous. We have no idea if either the increase in international students or the decrease in local students was by design, in an attempt to diversify their class beyond the Midwestern focus, or if it was a reaction to the makeup of that year’s candidate pool. We’re guessing the latter.
But then the following year, they didn’t maintain that higher interest from overseas. International applications went down to their pre-recession levels. So from our calculations – which admittedly could be off – it appears that half the loss in Michigan’s 2011-’12 app volumes from prior-year was due to a decrease in international apps.
There could be many factors going into all this. We don’t know what the Ross marketing spend was that year. We don’t know if they curtailed admissions recruiting trips to Asia. We have no idea what, if anything, they did different operationally. These things don’t happen in a vacuum and there’s lots we’re not privy to.
Yet even with the recent dip in international, it’s nothing to fret about. The 2011-’12 season saw international apps at near-exact levels to 2006-’07. Unless a school is are going to increase their class size, or is willing to increase their ratio of international to domestic students, they don’t actually need to increase apps from overseas; status quo is fine. Of course, Ross ended up doing both those things recently: their class size went up by almost 15% over these six years, and that seems to have been largely to accommodate more international students (that’s another bit of pure EssaySnark conjecture but it looks like it from the data). The good news then: It’s actually been a lot easier for an international candidate to get into Ross lately.
And that leads us back to a decrease in Americans targeting Ross as being a big chunk of the drop from 2010-’11 to 2011′-12, and what’s part of a trend that’s likely to have alarmed the Michigan admissions peeps too: Over the last six years, it appears that Ross’ domestic candidate numbers have dropped by 34% in aggregate. And that’s where we reiterate “the economy” as the cause – specifically that the regional economy has suffered from an extended period of very high unemployment, and Ross, despite being located in lovely Ann Arbor, is still a small-town school, with closest proximity to Detroit, which doesn’t have the best image (conjures up images of abandoned houses and crime for many).
Still, Michigan Ross as a top bschool has a lot going for it. We’re going to offer a summary of all of this tomorrow. We’d be very surprised if the number of domestic applicants has not recovered at least a little in our current admissions season.
We invite your thoughts!