Trump Effect for MBA Applicants

US Political and Economic Climate

A remarkably high 70% of respondents, US and international combined, reported they are “not swayed” by the US political climate (aka “Trump effect”) and that their MBA plans have not changed. 78% of total respondents are unswayed and/or more likely to apply to MBA programs given the current political climate.  

Trump effect shows 78% are unswayed

MBA Conviction in Current Political Times

We may see better admit odds for US applicants to US MBA programs than in preceding years. A respondent stated, “I was going to apply this year anyways, but with applications dropping from international students I feel this helps me as an American citizen.”

MBA admissions this year may be less competitive for applicants because of the strong economy; one respondent said, “I was always going to apply to a US program, although the economic cycle may influence my decision a tad (a recession will make admissions more competitive).” Another comment on current climate by a respondent: “I am no longer considering a career in government, making my business career my long-term plan and strengthened my desire to pursue an MBA.”

Other open-ended comments showed that emotional and stress reactions were common but that does not change MBA applicant plans. We expect international MBA applicants to try to be more selective on rank, brand, scholarship likelihood of target programs given relatively higher “costs” for US MBA programs in the current climate.

Un-phased by Trump effect

US citizens at a rate of 88% are unswayed by the Trump effect, whereas 54% of international respondents reported being unswayed.

Trump effect shows 88% of US are unswayed versus 54% of internationals

European MBA applicants are the least unphased. This could be due to the alternative of competitive EU MBA programs in their proximity.

Europeans influenced by Trump effect more than South Americans

Europeans influenced by Trump effect more than South Americans

Open-ended comments around stronger MBA conviction:

  • I was going to apply this year anyways, but with applications dropping from international students I feel this helps me as an American citizen
  • Indirectly; I am no longer considering a career in government, making my business career my long-term plan and strengthened my desire to pursue an MBA
  • I was always going to apply to a US program, although the economic cycle may influence my decision a tad (a recession will make admissions more competitive)

Somewhat influenced by Trump effect

34% of internationals report they are less likely to apply because of the Trump effect, whereas only 2% of US applicants report they are less likely to apply. 82% of those who report they are less likely to apply because of the Trump effect are applying to US MBA programs anyway. All of the US respondents who reported less likely to apply are applying to US MBA programs anyway.

Actual applicant plans haven’t changed except for enhanced diligence and selectivity of MBA programs, both US and international. As one respondent say, “Yes, I’m swayed but my plans won’t change.”  Internationals are more expressive than US MBA applicants about the US political climate; but the reactions are more emotional around stress.

Trump effect greater for internationals

Trump effect- MBA applicants still applying

Open-ended comments around increased school selectivity and diligence:

  • I will only consider the USA for top MBA programs which will be beneficial for job applications. Otherwise, my prospects will be better in European schools.
  • Yes, I am proceeding with caution and gathering all the information I can
  • I’m applying to US programs, however, the uncertainty around H1B visa rules means that the scholarships will play a bigger role in my decision to join a particular US school.
  • I’m only considering m7 colleges because of political climate
  • It doesn’t sway me much, but I’m proceeding with the assumption that a H1-B is highly unlikely
  • It’s definitely worrisome but I’m working around it by applying to EU schools too. While I’m only applying to US top 3 now, in another political situation I’d have picked US top 10 over an LBS or INSEAD.
  • I am still interested but I have began to consider other options

Predicted Trump Effect on Student Experience

Reduced recruiting for internationals and less internationals at US MBA programs are the predicted impacts of the current US political climate under Trump. International respondents are more influenced by the current US political climate/ economy than US respondents.

Trump effect influences international students the most

Trump effect influences international students the most

Open-ended comments:

  • Boom now, bust later – current economic trends mirror what happened prior to the 2008 crash
  • Stronger screening of international students who have a stronger employability quotient going for them

Trump effect influences international students the most

 

 

Trump effect influences international students the most

 

 

International Students at US business programs

Current international student representation is highest, at 40%+, at programs like Stanford GSB and Berkeley Haas, as reported by their current class profiles.  HBS hovers around 37% international student representation. Survey results show that majority of respondents are content with moderate or any level of international student representation.

If there will be a decrease in international student representation, most MBA applicants will be ok with a shift, but not beyond a reasonable threshold, at around 25% international student representation at US MBA programs. One US-based respondent commented, “International student representation is important, but more than 25% is not necessary.” He commented that there may be other corresponding demographic shifts, “I would like to see more US underrepresented minorities.” 

Trump effect influences international students the most

 

 

 

International respondents value international student representation more than US respondents.

Trump effect influences international students the most

 

 

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