While we applaud the effort to make the MBA more accessible by reducing the cost of applying to bschool for some applicants, will US$50 off the fee really make that much of a difference in getting someone to apply who otherwise would not?
Yale announced this new sliding-scale app fee policy on their blog yesterday with their post about their new MBA application opening up. Their standard application fee is $225 – which is already lower than some schools. For many, including Harvard and Columbia, it’s $250, and HBS won’t even waive the fee for anyone, including active duty military. The SOM is very generously letting those with lower incomes pay less. If you’re currently making up to US$10,000 per year, then you’ll pay $125, if you make from $10k to $20k, you’ll pay $175. They say that the reason is to encourage applicants from developing countries where wages are lower, and also to make it easier for those who are still in school or early in their careers to apply.
OK, yes, if you’re only making $20k a year, then a $50 savings is a whopper indeed and will likely be appreciated – but c’mon. If that’s your income, then you’re going to have a hard time affording the entirety of this whole MBA application process without a lot more help than this. (Need to figure out how much your current salary is in American dollars? As a starting point, $10k is about 6 Indian lakhs.)
Applying to bschool is expensive. If you’re an American trying for Yale who makes just $20k, then you’re probably living at home and your parents are paying for your apps. How could you live in this country – even in the so-called affordable parts – and pull off everything that’s required on your own? The GMAT is $250, plus you want to do a fair number of apps… That’s adding up fast, and those app fees aren’t exactly spaced out over time.
We know that plenty of Indian applicants are in the range to qualify for this discount – but is Yale truly seeking to increase the number of Indians applying? That’s not typically a market segment that they need to encourage. They’re only going to accept so many of those apps this year. Yes, there are plenty of other geographies around the world where people aren’t making U.S. salaries, and sure, this policy will benefit them. But it’s not like people look around at the app fee to determine where to apply. Is this really going to increase the candidate pool at Yale School of Management?
Lots of people we see applying to business schools like Yale get a $20,000 BONUS each year. That’s sort of the demographic of who’s generally in this market. We appreciate the effort to change that – and this is certainly a nice gesture – but it hardly seems like it’s going to make a very big difference in who they get applying. What do you think?
Oh, and in case you’re wondering how they’re going to enforce this: They won’t. Or at least, not at the time of the app. They’re not asking anyone to submit verification of income when they apply. Instead, that verification will come in after they’ve accepted you, like it does with all other admits – you’ll go through a formal process whereby the data you entered into the app will be checked and validated by a third-party service. (We talk about this in our Accepted Student’s Guide, in case you want the details when the time comes.) If it turns out that you underreported your salary in order to get the discounted app fee, well, that won’t be looking so good for you now will it? In case anyone is tempted to get the cheaper rate by fudging the numbers on their app, we’ll caution against that right now.
So why did they do this? Well, we had heard that Yale’s app volumes went down a bit this past year. That’s not so unusual – except that most of their peers reported an increase. We hate to be JadedSnark but it appears that this announcement is just an attempt to drum up business, as it were. We’re coming to this conclusion not just from the new flexible fee policy, but even more significantly, from the fact that
the video essay has apparently been removed from this year’s application, with not even the tiniest peep about it from Bruce DelMonico. CORRECTED 4pm Eastern Thursday: Well we were SloppySnark on this one – there’s language on the first page of the Yale app that says that the video essays will be available after August 1st. We can be accused of “not reading the instructions” on this!!! Please read (or re-read) the rest of this post with this correction in mind. That’s a bit of a surprise, actually, since we believe the video adds some value to the process on the inside of the admissions office, and because Yale went down to just a single essay this year. We thought that that was because they’d be keeping the video. However, we do know that a lot of people didn’t like it (Kellogg’s video in particular was a nightmare for many based on bad technical implementation – we’ll see what their next step is in this regard). When UCLA first experimented with an audio submission to their app way back in 2009, their app volumes tanked, and the general assumption is that it was due to the audio – even though it wasn’t required. Maybe Yale fell victim to that, too. We had thought that the world had evolved such that video would work just fine in apps in the modern era, given how much everyone is YouTubeing and Vimeoing and Vining and whatever.
AGAIN, CORRECTION: THEY **ARE** KEEPING THE VIDEO QUESTIONS. Sorry about that! -ES
Anyway, yeah, we’re not seeing this Yale app fee thing as much more than a gimmick. Is it really going to get more people from other parts of the world – and from different economic stratas – applying to the SOM?
What it will do, inevitably, is get them some media attention- and oh hey, here we are, dedicating a day’s blahg post to the SOM.
Interested in applying to Yale this year? We published our first-ever SnarkStrategies Guide for the SOM recently and it will help you with the stuff that matters: that essay! It’s a fair question that gives you a real opportunity to share yourself with the admissions team. On that count, we applaud the SOM on this year’s app. And this fee reduction thing is a nice touch too, even if we’re doubtful on how much it will really make a difference.