As we started to discuss yesterday: Yes, applications have gone down to the top schools in the U.S.
Simultaneously, there’s been a strengthening of interest in bschools in places that aren’t called the United States.
We’ve talked about this plenty o’ times, and it seems to be largely attributed to the image of American unfriendliness that’s being projected on a world stage.
Hopefully what you saw as the clear takeaway message from that previous post: Yes, applications have gone down, but the 2017 dip was STILL ABOVE THE PREVIOUS PEAK THAT WE SAW WHEN THE ECONOMY COLLAPSED IN 2006-2007. In other words, apps are down year-over-year, but not down historically.
This distinction is important!!!
The public tends not to be very quantitatively-minded so it’s easy to miss these things, and reporters need to write headlines that will get clicked, so talking about apps going down is high-drama (for weirdos who track such things). It’s just not the actual situation.
And anyway, what happens with application numbers at Harvard or Yale does not matter in the context of your own strategy.
There are only two factors that need to be considered when you know about such trends.
One is: Are you dead-set on going to bschool this year?
If so, then knowing it’s going to be a relatively tighter, or looser, admissions environment should inform which schools you select as a “safety” (and we truly dislike that term, but whatever). Given that this admissions cycle, for admits to the Class of 2022, it’s likely to be a softer situation with more schools seeing fewer numbers than they had before, then sure, you should feel empowered to set your sights high. IT’S STILL GONNA BE TOUGH TO GET IN but it shouldn’t be IMPOSSIBLE tough like it’s been in other years. It’s just STANDARD TOUGH. So if someone had a list of, say, Harvard, Wharton, Yale, and MIT, we’d still encourage them to consider adding one more school, perhaps in Round 2, as a just-in-case, since all four of those are pretty darned selective and difficult. And, if they had multiple significant flaws in their profile, we’d be steering them in a different direction completely. (Note: We give such input and advice as a standard part of our Comprehensive Profile Review.)
If you’re not 100% sold on absolutely definitely getting in this year, where you’re a bit earlier in your career, or you have a good job that you like and you’re not even certain you’d leave for bschool if you get accepted, then you can go for broke and aim high, and not worry about compromising your standards or setting your sights a tad lower. That’s because it’s going to be a somewhat less competitive cycle (probably) so you can afford to go all-out, and not worry about a school like maybe Ross, where you like it but you don’t love it, and even though it would be “easier” to get in, you don’t bother with submitting there, because you’re not yet sold on the idea of the MBA at this point in life anyway.
If you’re in the all-or-nothing camp of you HAVE to get in this year, then you’d want to consider schools like Ross, if it’s a good fit to you socially and culturally and community-wise, and you have a profile that matches their standard class. Ross is by no means a “safety school” but they’re not as hard to break into as, say, MIT or Yale or whomever.
So the fact that it’s likely to be a softer season means that, depending on your own priorities for timing, and where you see yourself, and how important it is for you to go to a brand-name super-elite school (or not at all, if you don’t make it in), all of this adds up to the possibility of aiming higher, and having a better chance of making it.
It also means that you should not feel compelled to paper the country with applications — which is not even a strategy anyway. But it does mean that you can afford to limit your apps to like a smaller handful of five or six, and don’t think you need to submit ten. Which honestly we think is silly under any circumstances, but it really does not need to happen this year especially. It might be a more reasonable mindset to do that if it’s a tighter race in admissions. But this year, it won’t be. Not quite as tight, anyway.
When applications suddenly increase, without forewarning, then it can be a true shock for BSers who have done all the right things in preparing their strategy to get denied even when their applications were strong. This happened due to unforeseen changes in the application environment, later easily attributable to new policies instituted for canceling GMAT scores, in conjunction with a trend at top schools to reduce the number of apps they required. That was unpleasant, since schools that should’ve been in reach for certain profiles suddenly became unattainable.
Now we’re in more the opposite environment, where those who try hard — particularly reapplicants who put in effort and show improvement — may end up surprised by the positive outcomes they reap. Not all of them, surely, and not every candidate type is equally advantaged in this climate. But by all measures that we’re tracking here in Snarkville, it should be a more balanced playing field for BSers this year.