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Financial Times Reports Record Class Sizes at Top Business Schools, Drops at Other Schools

According to a Financial Times article last week, many top business schools are reporting record numbers of students this year, the result of higher-than-normal enrollment yields among admitted students. But still other schools are reporting drops in traditional yields. Overall, an unusual combination of factors this year seems to have made predicting class enrollment sizes far trickier than usual.  

The FT credited Edward Snyder, dean of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, with predicting accurately that it would be unusually difficult to predict student enrollment this admission season. “This year, I think you can throw out traditional yield information,” he told the FT.

Indeed, yields at most top schools have surged this year, which is to say that higher-than-usual percentages of admitted students have chosen to enroll, resulting in record student numbers. Chicago Booth’s enrollment swelled to 592 full-time students, up from 577 last year and higher than ever before. The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, which usually enrolls between 800 and 820 students, this year welcomed 862. Harvard, Stanford, the University of Michigan’s Ross School, and INSEAD also all report record-high enrollments this fall, according to the FT report.

At the same time, some schools have seen their yields fall off. An example is the Anderson School at UCLA. Admissions Director Mae Jennifer Shores attributed this year’s lower-than-normal yield to the fact that some prospective students opted to accept offers at schools with bigger brands. “There’s a lot of crossover between UCLA Anderson and the other top schools,” she told the FT.

Whether up or down, yield has been unusually difficult to predict this year in part because of competing theories about business schools and recessions, the FT reports. Some argue that an economic downturn makes for an opportune time to go back to school. Others counter that if you have a job, now’s the time to hold tight to it.

A drop in international student applications – the result of uncertainty around the availability of student loans and/or post-graduation jobs – has also made it more difficult for admissions offices’ to accurately gauge yield. Columbia Business School saw its yield drop this year, which Assistant Dean Linda Meehan attributes at least in part to a drop-off in overseas applications. Even so, she finds the overall drop in yield hard to understand. “This last year was a very different year and different from other downturns,” she told the FT.

To read the FT article in its entirety, click here.

Posted in: MBA News

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