B-Schools Sell Themselves to Non-Traditional Applicants

In reaction to a recent BusinessWeek article that claims B-schools are having a hard time selling themselves to prospective students, The Vault‘s senior education editor Carolyn C. Wise identifies the real issue as schools having trouble finding the right kind of applicant.

The Wall Street fallout continues to stunt job openings in the traditional MBA areas of finance and consulting, so business schools need students who plan to enter other, nontraditional career paths, says Wise.

BW’s Francesca DiMelio concurs: “If grads are to compete in a global marketplace, they need to encounter it in the classroom, and that means recruiting students from a mix of industries, functions, countries, and genders””a mix that can be used as a selling point for the program.”

Elite schools wanting to attract applicants who can easily find a job once they’ve gotten their MBA need to lure in folks who may have never even considered pursuing a management degree. Engineers, scientists and social media gurus, therefore, are all desirable MBA students these days, says Wise. And having the option of submitting the GRE rather than GMAT may only sweeten the deal.

Administrators know they need to reshape the public’s view of business, and schools are doing just that by showing how an MBA program trains students””from those with public policy aspirations to engineers inventing products””to run any kind of organization, Robert Carraway, associate dean for degree programs at University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, tells BW.

“It follows that business schools will want to (and have to) try new marketing tactics to reach these potential applicants in ‘healthy’ industries,” writes Wise. “Moreover, by attracting these students, B-schools position themselves to create contacts in nontraditional industries and help even more graduates get jobs. So it’s ultimately about selling themselves to employers.”
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