After several years in a row of record-level application volumes at many top schools, we have to believe that the situation will ease this year.
We were actually pretty surprised last year when it got even MORE competitive than it had the year before. We expected it to stay equally competitive. But it got worse.
It can’t do so for another year. Can it?
Of course, we keep thinking that the stock market is going to crash, too, given how lofty those heights have been. An accurate prognosticator of such matters, we are not.
However, we were relieved to see some data from the GMAC (you know, the GMAT people) that indicates a potential softening of interest in the U.S. MBA from international applicants.
You remember that survey you filled out when you registered for the GMAT? That asked you about what type of MBA program you’re interested in, and where in the world you want to go for your graduate studies?
It seems that since the end of 2016, the GMAC has added questions to that survey asking about test-takers interest in coming to the U.S. (given the protectionist immigration rhetoric and changing landscape) and the UK (due to Brexit).
Their data is showing that, indeed, international applicants are becoming less enthusiastic about the good ol’ United States of America.
Here’s a direct quote:
Since November 2016, a growing share of international candidate say they are now less likely to pursue a graduate business degree in the United States due to the U.S. presidential election results. The percentage of non-U.S. citizen mba.com registrants who say they are now less likely to study in the United States has grown from 35 percent in November to 43 percent in February.
January 27th, as you may recall, is when the so-called “Muslim ban” was announced, so it’s very possible that those numbers deteriorated even further. The administration’s travel ban has since been hung up in legal challenges, but the U.S. administration has made its preferences clear with the initiatives they’re pushing and lots of rhetoric. Illegal immigration is said to be down considerably, and we’ve heard that the tourism industry in America is suffering. These policies are obviously also having a dampening effect on interest in studying in the States.
How much will this impact the applicant pool at the top U.S. business schools?
Probably not as much as it might at the next tier of school. People may say, “Dang, the U.S. ain’t such a friendly place these days…. but hmmm, maybe I should apply to Harvard?”
And to illustrate, an eight-point reduction of interest in the U.S. MBA may not translate to big numbers. Here’s a chart published by those GMAC folks in the same report:
Note: Most of 2016 was an increasing-volumes year; it wasn’t until the last two months that the entire situation changed with the surprise outcome of the election, and even then, nobody knew what that would actual mean in the reality of governing (four months in, we still don’t know what it means, actually…!)
The competition among the international applicant pool has heated up to such insane levels that if the top schools got even 10% fewer international candidates, it would make it easier for all you qualified and very motivated BSers to at least have a shot again. The schools don’t have quotas but they don’t want their international student population to expand beyond around the 40% level. There are only so many slots available.
We saw lots of amazing candidates turned away last year (not all of them were denied, but enough were for us to be shocked by it). If those candidates had been trying in the 2013 or 2014 admissions season then things were very different. It’s unlikely that the calendar will turn back to those levels, no matter what type of crazy new policy this current adminstration will try to implement — and we certainly aren’t wishing for MORE radical policies just as a way to deter candidates and reduce the overcrowding in the admissions pipeline.
But, maybe there’s a glimmer of hope? An easing of the insanity on the horizon?
Obviously if you’re a reapplicant, international or otherwise, you need to be planning on Round 1. And, we know that all of you are looking for ways to improve your candidacy in the time remaining before apps are due. Having a well reasoned strategy — including U.S. schools if you haven’t been turned off by the politics, as well as, say, Canadian, or maybe French or Spanish targets — can help increase your ability to land a win.
Questions on this? Lay ’em on us, we’re happy to help.
And for all you internationals out there: One reason America is such a wonderful place is that it allows diversity of opinion. There may be some voices that are being broadcast quite loudly these days, but you will also find a broad spectrum of ideas coming from thoughtful people all across this land. Try to stay connected with a variety of individuals and you’ll gain a better perspective of what this country is about than you might understand by only reading the headlines or watching the news.
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