Apparently it’s time for our “Is there a bubble?!?” post.
We write these every few years (2015 version: Our annual “bubble” post; 2014 version: The whole “MBA bubble” thing rises again; 2011 version: The cost of education/is there a bubble? 8-part series), because apparently it’s a cyclical trend. The media gets bored, or someone (usually an academic) gets ticked off at the fact that there are a bunch of MBA students pushing salaries higher in corporations everywhere (starting salaries of fresh-minted MBA grads are now higher than what many professors make at lower-tier schools) and we get another round of articles in business publications about the end of the MBA as we know it.
We shouldn’t get too cheeky, of course; it’s very possible that the bottom will fall out of this market, and then where would we be? With no MBA essays left to snark?
That definitely happened to law schools not even that long ago.
But despite what you may have read in the news, it doesn’t look like there’s risk of that happening for bschools anytime soon.
Part of the issue is when you hear about trends among business schools, they’re almost always being reported on across all business schools. You may not be aware of just how many business schools there are in this country. Like, thousands. We only talk about ~20 of them here, because the folks who wander into Snarkville are looking to go to one of the most prestigious, competitive, selective programs. The best of the best. The ones you need help in crafting a pitch to, because of how few they accept. We don’t waste your time talking about the essay questions for the University of Louisiana’s school of business because — no offense to Moody but — you don’t need the ‘Snark’s help getting in. It’s just not the same situation.
So when you get a headline from a reputable institution like Inside Higher Ed that applications to MBA programs in the U.S. are falling , well… Yes, that statement is true. But it’s not true at every school, especially not the schools that you care about, or not to the extent that they are saying.
How about some data:
Or to put it differently:
We just randomly chose Yale as the second curve to include in that graph. It’s a good school that’s been on the upswing, and has fairly representative trendlines compared to its peers (which we would say roughly are places like MIT, Tuck, Columbia, and Duke, in terms of the competitiveness factor). As you can see, yes apps are down — but are they really DOWN?
As in, like down in the dumps?
No. They’ve only come off their recent highs.
So an easy takeaway message here folks:
No matter if you’re talking Harvard or Stanford, or some slightly less-competitive place, IT’S STILL REALLY EFFIN’ HARD TO GET IN.
Side note: Law schools may be in a recovery! Registrations for taking the LSAT have gone up. However, this also could be due to change in policy where test-takers can now cancel the LSAT score, which is new to this test. That change made a massive difference in the economy for GMAT tests and the apparently ceiling for scores. It would not be surprising though that the same politics that have made international MBA applicants shy away from coming to the U.S. has also motivated a new crop of applicants to try for law school. To, you know, go into politics or something, and make a difference. If you’re really feeling motivated to make some change happen in this country, law school might be a better place to be.