Mission Admission: Apply Now or Later?

Mission Admission is a series of MBA admission tips; a new one is posted each Tuesday.

As more and more candidates have asked us about the competitiveness of the upcoming admissions season, we have been pretty consistent with our advice. Although it is quite likely that application volumes will continue to surge, we remain “economically agnostic”. We suggest that candidates ignore external economic events and apply when the time is right for them, professionally and personally. After all, professional economists constantly disagree about the state of the economy and its path forward. Can we really say with certainty that the economy will “bottom-out” this year and that we will therefore see a peak in application volume this year? If the economy is in even rougher shape one year from now, should candidates wait an additional year after that? How long can forces that are out of your control prolong your quest for an MBA?

We find that most candidates who are contemplating putting off their applications are not just concerned about the competitiveness of the application pool, but are also worried about the deteriorating job situation on campus.  Obviously, it is challenging to predict what the fulltime job situation will be like for candidates who are applying now and will be graduating in the spring of 2011.  While we would never ignore the importance of that first post-MBA job, we feel that many candidates focus exclusively on the short term rewards of the MBA and fail to consider the long-term value. With a long term view, (wherein candidates gain an enduring and transferable skill set) pursuing an MBA at the right time personally and professionally, regardless of external circumstances, is still a compelling proposition.

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