Business school applicants still hopeful, despite admission challenges

Business school applicants are still hopeful, despite the uncertain times.

By U2B Staff 

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2020 is a year of upheaval, and the recent pandemic has certainly dampened both the enthusiasm and outlook of this year’s MBA or master’s degree in business school prospective candidates.

A recent voice of dissent conveyed by business school hopefuls lamented not only on poor admissions processes but also a general lack of empathy towards international students struggling to secure a visa for the full-term MBA programme and international internships.

As prospective students are met with admissions processes that are seemingly prohibitive and irresponsive to meet changing needs, business schools have been the subject of online bashing on social media.

According to this survey on 89.2% of U.S. citizens and 87.3% of international students currently admitted to a full-time MBA programme and different barriers exist for each cohort.

The class of 2022 MBA admits who were U.S. citizens expressed varying degrees of concern on the different aspects of business schools. The primary concern of this cohort ranged from the social aspects of the MBA experience for example friendships with classmates and personal considerations, primarily the reluctance to move away from family or other support during a public health crisis.

Some also expressed concern about the availability of summer internships in 2021 as well as financial concerns including loan interest rates and currency fluctuation.

The survey reflects this sentiment, with 40.6% of international respondents stating securing a visa as their top concern.


Business school applicants are still hopeful

Business schools are still hopeful, despite uncertain times. According to findings by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) through a survey conducted on more than 1,000 MBAs or master’s degrees in business prospects, prospective students are not giving up on their aspirations to pursue their studies.

The percentage of candidates reporting to be very concerned or extremely concerned about the impact of the pandemic has on their pursuit of MBAs or master’s degrees in business rose from 13% on March 15 to 35% by March 31. The number increased by seven percentage points to 41% by April 15 which shows a deepening concern.

The increasing concern for MBA or business master’s prospects is mainly attributed to the impact of the pandemic on the global economy, which will have a direct impact on hiring trends in the coming year.

It is therefore evident that the risk of the global economic slowdown and its implications on future employment prospects could be a deterrent to future students to continue pursuing their study plans.

The impacts are already felt by prospective candidates, prompting them to consider alternatives such as delaying their plans of pursuing MBAs or master’s degrees in business.

It was found that 55% of prospective MBA candidates were slightly more likely to delay pursuing the postgraduate qualification. In slight contrast, 48% of prospective master’s degrees in business candidates were considering delaying their study plans.

These concerns are not unfounded – a report published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) indicates bleak economic prospects for 2020 with a projected growth of -3%, strongly rivalling the 2008 global financial crisis.

The report, however, comes with a silver lining, projecting a 5.8% growth in 2021 as economic activity normalises bolstered by strong policy support.


While the survey findings indicate that there is a rising concern about the job market among prospective business school students, their aspirations to pursue MBAs or master’s degrees in business have not changed all that much: The overall percentage of candidates reporting no longer pursuing MBAs or master’s degree in business due to the impact of the pandemic was less than 10%.

One very positive outcome from this survey also reveals that there is a 3% decrease in the proportion of prospective MBA candidates reporting not pursuing the qualification, which is from 11% to 8%.

This suggests that some candidates are considering an MBA or master’s degree in business as a promising pathway in times of harsh economic climate.

How business schools have helped applicants in their admissions process

Generally business schools have responded to meet these new needs. Most have either deferred admissions or have kept students duly updated. Many have also opted for virtual tours and interviews as well as online information sessions to provide MBA prospects with the information they require.

Many schools are also accepting online test scores or waiting tests altogether. Business schools have also developed hybrid programmes that will allow international students to start the MBA programme in their respective countries while waiting for governments to resume issuing visas to international students.