As the coronavirus outbreak continues to force business schools online, applicants hoping to start their program this fall face a lot of uncertainty.
In this week's Applicant Question, Chris Healy, head of MBA marketing and recruitment at Alliance Manchester Business School (MBS), weighs up whether you should hold off or continue with your MBA application for 2020.
It goes without saying there has been a lot of change in the world in 2020.
In a space of a month I have gone from sitting down with an MBA candidate working for the autonomous car arm of Mercedes Benz in San Francisco, and hosting a Negotiations Masterclass for 60 NHS doctors, to being in lockdown with all our MBA events and meetings taking place virtually.
Assuming you’ve already decided you want an MBA, the first question is to decide whether you need that MBA in 2020 or can you wait until 2021?
This will always come down to personal circumstances, however I will give some general considerations.
Courses may move online
One reason why someone may reconsider an MBA in 2020 is if the program you were considering moves to be online, then it may not meet your expectations or aspirations.
MBAs should be experiential, they should allow for networking, for collaboration, for collegiality, for sharing a beer or coffee with a classmate. All these things can technically be done online, and we are seeing that happening more now of course as we are in lockdown.
Indeed, in 2030, the majority of MBA students may want just that, but that is not what the majority of MBA students are looking for in 2020.
At Alliance MBS, we believe that face-to-face learning is integral to the MBA and we are looking a number of ways we can achieve this safely for our 2020 cohorts across all three of our MBAs.
Engaging with your school virtually
Your options for MBAs without online classes in 2020 will reduce, but there will be schools out there with a number of viable contingencies post-lockdown.
How do you find these schools? Research has always been key and still is key when selecting the right MBA program.
Although over 100 countries are in some form of lockdown, it doesn’t mean you cannot get to know a school and their MBA program.
It’s a common misconception that the majority of MBA students visit a school. At Alliance Manchester Business School we personally engage with 70-80% of applicants, whether that be by meeting them in their respective cities, them coming to campus, or more commonly through Skype meetings.
Not everyone comes to Manchester before enrolling and the same applies for the majority of schools.
My advice has always been to find a way of engaging with a school and in the current climate it’s imperative to be in close contact with your preferred school, whether you’ve already accepted your place, or you are an offer holder or still a prospective applicant.
On the Manchester MBA we have a number of WhatsApp and Facebook groups for applicants and for those who are still considering an MBA. My team and I are always happy to offer our expertise and that is why we encourage candidates to reach out to us.
The majority of full-time MBA applicants have been considering an MBA for 12-36 months and much of their career decisions in that time have been about positioning themselves to study an MBA at a specific time.
This continues to be the case even in this COVID-19 bubble we’re all living in now. I believe very few full-time MBA applicants need to re-consider their intentions of starting a MBA in 2020.
What they may have to do is re-consider the country they study in or more importantly re-consider the MBA program they have chosen.
For those considering a professional MBA, if your company is funding you and that offer is still there, you should take it and enrol this year.
Those who are self-funding the MBA have to think why they are doing it in the first place and why they originally wanted to study in 2020?
You also need to consider your current role and how secure it is, along with your personal finances.
I always say to MBA candidates picking a world class business school is easy because there are so many of them, the difficulty is selecting the school with the right MBA program structure for you.
In the current climate it’s more important than ever and you will only find out the full details by engaging and questioning people like myself to know what the schools plans are.
Ask an admissions expert a question
Next week, you'll have the chance to ask Anna Riepe, senior career advisor at Vlerick Business School, anything you like about getting into business school.
Anna has provided career support to Vlerick's MBAs for over four years, helping them prepare for the graduate job market through workshops, coaching, and leveraging Vlerick's alumni network.
Anna's background in recruitment and training make her well-placed to offer insights into what business schools and employers are looking for.
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