The COVID-19 pandemic has seen widespread closures and lockdown, from business school campuses to test prep organizations and GMAT test centers.
It's forcing business schools to rethink their strategy, moving many of their classes and learning activities into an online environment, and readdressing how they can engage and interest their students remotely. It's a challenge, but one that many schools have taken on.
For EGADE Business School, in Mexico, it’s been a great opportunity to rethink their format and make sure their programs are suited to their students' needs.
Taking the classroom online
Regarding the closure of campuses, the biggest impact has been on the full-time and part-time students, for whom the campus experience was one of the perks of applying for business school.
EGADE Business School at Tec de Monterrey in Mexico was quick to react to the official announcement that academic and public institutions had to close. Within 24 hours of the announcement in March, the business school transitioned almost 2,000 students online.
It’s difficult to entirely replace the face-to-face experience, but business schools are innovating in how they can recreate this environment. In fact, it’s offered benefits that students wouldn’t have otherwise seen.
Zoom, the tool connecting millions around the world for work and social life, is giving EGADE students the opportunity to have a wide access to numerous different speakers and lecturers who they may not have been able learn from in the past.
Canvas, an online learning management system, integrates different learning methods and resources into one program, allowing students to actively participate. It also means that students can save slides and lectures, for them to go back and revisit at another time.
One great benefit for many students has been a greater work-life balance. While the MBA program may be time-intensive, it can be visited and completed with more flexibility to suit each student's needs and time constraints. Many have also celebrated the time it takes to get to class—from a lengthy car journey, to the click of a button.
Online experiences coming to the fore
Business school, of course, isn’t just about the experiences you gain inside the classroom and what you learn from the curriculum. Careers, networking, and alternative learning all play a big part in the campus experience.
The EGADE careers department has moved entirely online, delivering the same extensive one-on-one career counseling services, from mentoring to resumé checking.
The Global Network Week, one of the flagship networking events at EGADE, took place entirely online, where students and alumni from around the world had the opportunity to connect, discuss ideas, and even explore job opportunities.
EGADE has also redoubled its efforts to offer additional learning opportunities to its students and alumni.
Three times a week, the school hosts its webinar series ‘Rising to the Challenge: Leadership in the context of COVID-19’, inviting professionals from a variety of industries, like healthcare, trade, logistics, and human resources, to offer insights on responses to the pandemic. These are all available on YouTube.
Alternative Learning is a platform that the school is launching to demonstrate to expand the school’s learning opportunities.
Part of this is their MicroMasters programs—in innovation and entrepreneurship, and negotiation and leadership—which offer a condensed program of key skills and learnings students might expect from a master’s or MBA program. These are offered at a significantly lower cost—$894 per course—and take around six months to complete, and are being run in collaboration with online learning platform edX.
The school has also launched EGADE Capsules, an open-source platform with crash course videos on topics including marketing, finance, business, and communication, and will be delivered by the school’s expert faculty.
WATCH: Coronavirus Update | Applicant Bulletin
Moving the admissions process online
Given the uncertainty of the situation, it’s difficult to know how long schools will be closed for, and the impact this will have on admissions processes.
March, April, and May are usually an important time for candidates, as a key moment in their application journey. For many schools, this time of the year is normally the middle of round three of applications, often a time when a big chunk of the class is selected.
EGADE had already taken steps to move its entire admissions process online, so as not to inhibit international applications. This includes interviews and admissions tests.
The school, like many schools in non-English speaking countries, demands a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), to ensure that its candidates are able to survive in an English language environment at the school and beyond.
They are currently working with language app Duolingo, which is providing an online resource—both for preparing and for taking the test—for business school applicants.
EGADE’s main emphasis has been moving everything online, to ensure that all students’ opportunities are unchanged. From admissions to enrolment, from courses to networking, the whole school has effectively moved online.
But more than this, the school is focused on making sure their students are engaged, mentally healthy and active, during a time which could be stressful for many.
This could be crucial to ensure that students are getting the best possible opportunities from their education.