New College Grads Bound for B-School

There’s a growing movement of students seeking to enter business school either straight from their undergraduate programs or with just one to two years of work experience, Alison Damast‘s piece in Monday’s BusinessWeek reports.

Rather than toiling four to six years on the job before applying, these applicants are determined to head off to B-school with the glow of graduation still fresh in their minds. The Millennials, as this impatient generation is known, are changing the equation for business schools.

Damast finds that more schools are selectively dropping their age requirements and allowing students to submit the GRE for admissions rather than the GMAT, a move they say helps them reach undergraduates who might not otherwise consider a business degree.

Also, programs such as Harvard’s 2+2, Krannart’s 3+2, and Simon’s Early Leaders Initiative are designed to attract a younger, more diverse pool of applications.

So why the surge in interest? The weak economy is undoubtedly a factor, but another element is also at play. Julia Tyler, a vice-president of the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), tells BW:

“I’m speculating here, but it may be that parents are at cocktail parties and they hear their friends talk about how their child is going to law school and medical school at 21 and they think, why not business school?” Tyler says. “I do think there is an influence of the helicopter-parent factors here that shouldn’t be underestimated.”

All signs indicate that outreach to applicants without the traditional work experience is a success. MBA admissions at Harvard announced a 34% increase in total 2009 2+2 Program applications to 844 from 631 last year.

“These are people who, when they’re in college and thinking about what to do next, may not know what doors an MBA can open for them,” admissions director Deirdre Leopold said. “The grand design is to get the message out to a different group of people at a time before they are making other decisions about their career.”

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