Recently, the New York Times again reported on how the recession is affecting b-school applications, citing increases at top schools such as Yale, where applications are up by 4%, and unranked schools such as those in Long Island, where applications are up by 10%. Indeed, there has been no shortage of articles identifying this trend and yet, today, in the Chronicle of Higher Education, an interesting contrary trend seems to have been identified in other graduate schools—the number of GRE test-takers has actually gone down.
Since 2004, the number of test-takers has risen from 501,000 to 633,000 in 2007. This year, ETS—the administrator of the GRE—anticipates a slight decrease to 621,000. While this drop is not terribly significant in absolute terms, it is unusual during a downturn, when an increase would typically be expected, and in the face of efforts by ETS to encourage more college juniors and seniors to take the test, as well as broader acceptance of the GRE among MBA programs.
In the article, the Chronicle of Higher Education speculates that the credit crunch may be limiting some potential candidates’ ability to borrow and may have simply “frozen” the plans of others who are afraid to act during uncertain times. In addition, it seems possible that some would prefer an MBA during uncertain times, as financial security is first and foremost for many.