Coronavirus (COVID-19) is rapidly spreading across the world, with governments scrambling to mitigate the effects to both public health and the economy. As the pandemic continues to cause unprecedented global disruption, business schools are also feeling the effects.
Normally hives of activity, b-schools are closing their campuses and moving learning online. This disruption extends to the business school application process too, changing the way you engage with schools, interview, and complete admission tests like the GMAT or GRE.
Here's six ways coronavirus could impact your business school application:
1. You may have to take the GMAT or GRE online
As countries introduce social distancing measures, GMAT and GRE testing has been suspended and test centers have closed in almost every country around the world.
The GMAT is the primary admission test when it comes to b-school applications—where it's used as an indicator of your ability for an MBA or master’s program. The GRE is an admission test that can be used to apply to a range of graduate programs. But with test centers closed, you'll be unable to take either test in the traditional way.
2. You could benefit from more flexible admissions requirements
With many candidates still unable to take their GMAT and GRE tests, school administrators are looking to adapt the way they make offers, resulting in schools either making conditional offers, or waiving test results altogether.
Rotterdam School of Management, for example, are offering conditional offers to students (pending submission of a GMAT or GRE score), in addition to GMAT/GRE waivers for candidates with a PhD or outstanding GPAs. INSEAD, too, are offering conditional offers to those unable to complete the GMAT, meaning you can apply without having taken the test.
Meanwhile, Harvard Business School have extended the deadline for their 2+2 deferred admissions process for current HBS students. The 2+2 means students pursue at least two years professional work experience before two years on the HBS MBA. Instead of April 2, 2020, the 2+2 new application deadline is June 1, 2020 at 12pm Eastern Time.
As coronavirus disrupts the application process, and under pressure to fill their classes, it's likely more schools will become more flexible with their admissions requirements in the weeks to come.
3. You'll likely interview online
Alongside the more flexible approach to admissions, some schools are moving their admission process wholly online. Both Kellogg School of Management and UNC Kenan-Flagler are moving online, replacing face-to-face interviews with virtual interviews and assessments.
It chimes with the move in the business world to remote meetings. Self-isolated workers are staying home, where Zoom and WebEx video conferences are filling the gap of real-world meeting rooms.
Making you sure you prepare for a video interview properly is therefore becoming even more important. While the method remains similar, it’s crucial to understand the differences of conducting an online interview.
4. You'll need to replace campus visits with virtual tours
In normal circumstances, visiting the campus of your targeted business school is another useful way to find out more about the school and the program. But with social distancing measures and the ban on international travel, it may not be possible to attend. Even if this was possible, most schools have now been shut and it’s unlikely you’d find anyone there.
Some schools have virtual tours of the campus available—Harvard Business School, for example, have a virtual tour available online. Still, if you can't visit and meet people on-campus, making sure you familiarize yourself with the school in other ways becomes even more important.
5. You'll have to find alternative ways of connecting with staff and alumni
Chatting to representatives from your target school, or alumni that you’ve been introduced to, is a great way to find out more about the program and the school. But it may be that these appointments have been put on hold or cancelled altogether.
While a shame, there are obviously ways to work round it. If possible, organizing over-the-phone chats or online meetings could be a way to find out the same information. Schools should be able to put you in touch with contacts from their alumni network. Reaching out to them for a call is a great way to ask questions about the program and start to form key contacts.
6. You may consider an online program
With schools now adapting their infrastructure to cope with current teaching moving online, it's likely that more schools will launch online programs. Online MBAs, for example, have grown in popularity in recent years, offering added flexibility and working well as a part-time option if you want to fit study around a busy schedule.
Understanding the pros and cons of online learning is important, with many students finding that the campus experience and networking benefits of a full-time MBA can’t be replicated online. However, in the current climate, an online program may be the more viable option.
Nobody is sure how long this disruption will continue, or what’s going to happen next, but what's certain is that business schools are still actively recruiting and hungry for candidates like you.