If you’re applying to business school, or thinking about it, you have likely seen the headlines about a recent MBA application decline. In addition to reporting fewer applications, schools including Duke, Tuck and Kellogg are adding additional rounds, and selectively waiving testing requirements. Given these dynamics, is now the right time to apply?

  • Maybe, If You Are a Laid Off Tech Worker (or similar).

If you were recently laid off from Microsoft, Google, Amazon or Twitter, and were planning to apply to business school soon anyway, you might want to take advantage of this small window of opportunity. Before applying now, though, please make sure that you actually want to spend the next two years in school. Also, as with anyone who is applying to business school, please think carefully about the career outcome that are you really hoping for. Do you need an MBA to get there? Is business school worth the financial investment, and the opportunity cost of stepping out of the workforce?

  • Can You Submit a Strong Application?

Do you really have time to write amazing essays? Are your recommenders available to advocate for you? Do you need to take additional courses (or the GMAT or GRE, even if they aren’t required), in order to present the strongest candidacy? If so, you might want to wait. Despite the fact that there are still seats available in the class of 2025 at many business schools, the last rounds are historically more competitive. If you are denied and decide to reapply, it’s important to have submitted a strong application that will reflect well on you in the future.

  • Consider Historical MBA Admissions Cycles.

When the economy is bad, historically, business school applications tend to rise. (Applicants are traditionally averse to leaving rewarding, stable jobs, but feel that they have less to lose when their employment opportunities aren’t as alluring.) It’s obviously impossible to say for sure what will happen next, but if layoffs continue and the economy weakens further, it’s conceivable that the MBA application decline will reverse. In that case, especially if you have a lower GPA or other areas of potential weakness in your profile, it might be worth applying now.






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Karen Marks

Karen has more than 12 years of experience evaluating candidates for admission to Dartmouth College and to the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Since founding North Star Admissions Consulting in 2012, she has helped applicants gain admission to the nation’s top schools, including Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Wharton, MIT, Tuck, Columbia, Kellogg, Booth, Haas, Duke, Johnson, Ross, NYU, UNC, UCLA, Georgetown and more. Clients have been awarded more than $70 million dollars in scholarships, and more than 98% have gotten into one of their top choice schools.
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