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        How Business School Trends Affect Your MBA Application

        Shifts in culture and the economy have changed the makeup of the MBA applicant pool. Being aware of trends can help you to craft your business school application.

         
        There have been recent trends in the business application scene, changes in who is applying to business school and what they want to do with their MBA degrees.
         
        It’s important to be aware of business education trends when you’re mapping out strategies for an MBA application – it gives you insights into the competition.
         
        A Recent History of MBA Applicant Patterns
         
        For years, people went to business school for careers in finance, consulting or marketing. But primarily finance.
         
        The first big shift happened with the economic boom and the original Internet gold rush in the late 1990’s. Some business schools started to offer “new media” courses but they were few and far between. Many schools did not even have online applications until 2005 or so – you had to submit your app on paper through traditional mail without the E. 
         
        Arguably these schools were in no position to be teaching students about technology. Nobody went to business school for that, and the recruiters weren’t looking for MBA students to fill those jobs. 
         
        The dot-com bust in 2000 increased the number of applications to top business schools, but it didn't really change the type of person who was interested in the MBA; it was still primarily those pursuing careers in finance and consulting.
         
        But as technology became an ever-bigger part of business and the global economy, these patterns started to change too. Each time the economy contracted, it sent hordes of new applicants flocking to graduate schools, many of whom were seeking a refuge from the rocky jobs market.
         
        The most dramatic change, of course, happened in 2008. That's when the cultural attitude towards finance started to shift, and Wall Street was cast as a villain. Far fewer people saw investment banking and financial services as attractive career paths. 
         
        The classic “finance” MBA programs scrambled to reposition themselves more broadly, actively courting different types of candidates for their altered curricula and programs. 
         
        Today, the most popular career path for candidates applying to business school is consulting, not finance – though there’s still plenty of post-MBA recruiting for finance jobs, too.
         
        But the landscape has changed. Millennials who are applying to business school are interested in social enterprise and “doing well by doing good”. They know that there's no such thing as a permanent job and they’re much more interested in an independent and resourceful career path. 
         
        These cultural changes are reflected in the applicant pools of the top MBA programs. More and more candidates are talking about starting a company as part of their post-MBA plans.
         
        But what does this mean for applicants? These changing trends mean that the admissions committees may react differently to your pitch today than they would have a few short years ago. 
         
        Why These Changes are Important
         
        The essays matter for all applicants, and how you present your future career interests is important at many of the best business schools.
         
        If you’re in financial services and are interested in staying in financial services, you may be rare bird. There are fewer candidates with this background, and if they write good essays and have a decent profile, it's going to be much easier than it's ever been for them to get noticed by the admissions teams at the top schools.
         
        If you want to use business school to transition into financial services from another career, it’s more feasible now because there is a greater supply of jobs available, and fewer graduates to fill them. 
         
        The admissions teams are more open-minded than they used to be when they see a career-changing candidate.
         
        If you're interested in social ventures, then there are plenty of schools to choose from. Lots of MBA programs now have diverse offerings to support students who want to launch a for-profit business that contributes to society.
         
        Anyone planning to start a company of any type – but particularly technology companies – will have a lot more opportunities at all of the business schools around the world. 
         
        Entrepreneurship is a more common career path and lots of schools are supporting their students with business plan competitions, incubators, and mentorship from practitioners. It may not be the cheapest way to launch a new company, but it’s a viable track.
         
        And then there’s always consulting. This is a very popular career goal for many applicants, and there are always plenty of jobs available. The challenge is to have a very strong profile and to present yourself as differentiated – there's more competition in consulting than ever before.
         
        Knowing that there are lots of other applicants interested in consulting should not deter you from your own career goal in that field, however. It can help you to potentially adjust your strategy in terms of which firms or sectors you might be targeting.
         
        Many MBA programs saw an increase in applications last year and while we don’t expect the numbers to climb much higher in the current admissions season, there’s still plenty of competition out there.
         
        Being aware of the trends and the changing applicant pool can help you to sharpen your application. 
         
        This post was written by EssaySnark, an MBA admissions consultancy.