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A recent Poets&Quants survey of more than 300 current admits to top MBA programs this year found that a third of prospective students already admitted to top business schools are of the opinion that they may want to defer their admission this year if classes fail to return to campuses in the fall.

Interestingly, among our 80+ candidates accepted to top MBA programs this year, the mindset is very different.

Less than 10% of our candidates have expressed their desire to defer the start of their MBA program and most seem to have embraced the idea that the start of their MBA may be impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Those who know us well can vouch that we are some of business schools’ harshest critics and we usually don’t come to their defense often. But today is a time we feel that it is important to be on their side as many MBA candidates are behaving irrationally.

Schools did a pretty good job at adapting to lockdown and other restrictive measures.

Schools can be blamed to not have leveraged available technology earlier to build strong online teaching capabilities and complement an interactive online offering with an offline repository. No doubt about that. Yet, the speed with which they have been adapting to an ever-changing situation is nothing short of commendable.

In the picture, you can witness Stanford GSB Professor Joel Peterson teaching his first-ever class  on Zoom after 28 years in the classroom. (credit Joel Peterson).

I have spent time chatting with our 2019 applicants scattered across top business schools and while they all hope to go back to in-person experience soon, they have all applauded their respective school’s efforts and support in making this experience as little disruptive as possible.

Not just in terms of learning experience but importantly in terms of helping them navigate these turbulent times.

Adaptability and resilience are key to business success.

I’ve had many such discussions with our MBA candidates on their desire to challenge the status quo and, for some, to change the world. They are receptive to change and wish to drive it. Perhaps such inclination to change explain why our candidates are less concerned about taking on some online classes during their program. They understand that the post-COVID world will be vastly different than the world we have lived in so far. Work will become more flexible with facilitated remote and mobile working and an increasing use of virtual meetings. Leading teams remotely is a much harder task than just working-from-home and what’s best than putting it to experience during your MBA to start honing new leadership skills. All our applicants dreamt of a 20th Century MBA experience but today they are embracing the fact that they will be the first cohort to willingly embark on a 21st Century MBA experience. The Class of 2021 and 2022 will produce some of the most resilient and adaptable young leaders in Business Education’s history.

The job market will be dynamic for top MBA graduates in 2020, 2021, 2022 and onwards.

The experiences of the MBA classes of 2010, 2011, and 2012 may provide some comfort: Despite entering the job market amid a global restructuring and deep layoffs on Wall Street, most of the MBA classes of 2010, 2011, and 2012 found work after graduating. But it took longer and their roles weren’t always where they wanted to be, according to a Bloomberg Businessweek survey of 15,000+ MBA alumni in 2018.  Looking at the unemployment rate within 3 months between 2007 and 2009, it is easy to spot that top schools have been much less impacted by the effects of the GFC than second tier business schools. In other words, if you are aiming at top 10 MBA programs, starting your MBA in 2021 may be the best decision you could make as it would keep you safe during the worst time of the recession.

Want to change the world? Then get to school now!

“The Stanford Graduate School of Business’ mission is to create ideas that deepen and advance our understanding of management and with those ideas to develop innovative, principled, and insightful leaders who change the world.”

Business models are being re-invented as we speak. This is a time of opportunity that is unrivalled in modern history. While trillion of dollars have been wiped out, the world economy will experience a phenomenal rebound in the years to come. But finding the next billion-dollar-idea is going to require thinking more innovatively than ever before. Everything will change –consumer behaviors, healthcare, risk management, supply-chain, F&B, tourism, airlines, hospitality, etc. The 2008 GFC with labor and housing market forces coming together to create the sharing economy, and the advent of smartphones in 2007 gave many companies a new platform for their applications and services.

You have 2 years ahead of you to think and potentially find how you could change the world!

Think of your community!

Most, if not all, of our MBA candidates have shared with us their desire to join a strong community. They understand the value of joining a strong alumni network and building strong bonds with their peers. But they also understand it is a two-way street. They expect to receive but are also equally excited to share and give. Today, they understand it is more important than ever to first give. By deferring, they would not only jeopardize their juniors’ application outcomes but also put in jeopardy the operating budget of the schools that they want to be part of.

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