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Indian MBA Applicants Face Uncertainty Amid COVID-19 Surge

MBA applicants look set to defer their studies as India experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases. Yet there's support available for Indian b-school candidates

Thu May 13 2021

Admissions experts expect to see a drop in applications from India to international MBA programs in Round 1 of 2021 as the COVID-19 pandemic devastates the country.

With many countries banning travel from India, and families dealing with the personal tragedy of the pandemic, applicants from India face uncertainty.

Even admitted students from India are reconsidering their options. Manish Gupta, a leading MBA admissions consultant and chief consulting officer at MBA Crystal Ball notes that admitted students have had to deal with mixed feelings. 

“As schools the world over gear up for the next session, things are still quite unclear. The trend of students deferring remains a distinct one, as we witnessed in the last cycle,” he says.

However, amid the uncertainty, there is support on offer for Indian MBA applicants.

Support for MBA applicants

After deaths caused by coronavirus in India reached several thousand per day, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), a global association of business schools and administrator of the GMAT Exam, released a statement in support of Indian business school candidates.

GMAC is taking steps to protect our colleagues, their families and the candidate community. To ensure there are no disruptions to candidates’ pursuit of their graduate management education goals, we have implemented a range of precautionary measures. 

Safety is the primary concern at our testing centers, and testing center staff are following enhanced health and safety protocols.

Most business schools require MBA applicants to submit a GMAT score. Since the launch of the GMAT Online Exam, MBA applicants in India can also take the test from home.

Given the situation, admissions consultants are suggesting Indian MBA candidates consider deferring their studies until 2022. “The world, as we all hope eagerly, is likely to be a much better place than what it currently is, a year out,” says Manish.

Barbara Coward, founder of 360 MBA Admissions, says candidates should put their personal lives first.

“Admissions staff familiar with operating under uncertainty so my advice is to keep the lines of communication open with the admissions office and update on your status if/as it changes,” she says.

Read: 9 Coursera Courses To Do Before Your MBA


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MBA Students Fight COVID-19

The severity of the situation is not lost on admissions consultant and former MBA student Sam Weeks. He’s working with an Indian MBA applicant who moved back from Europe to India to care for his mother after she was diagnosed with COVID-19.

“He had signed up for a full 3-school application package with me, intending to apply to top European business schools in Round 1, 2021, but paused everything to travel back to India to take care of her. She’s on oxygen and struggling for her life,” he says.

As the pandemic devastates India, hundreds of incoming MBAs, together with some current MBA students and alumni from top schools, have banded together to help, launching Students Fight Covid.

They are offering their expertise in exchange for donations to Covid Relief agencies. Aspiring MBA students can share the receipt of their donation and then book consultations for resume and testing guidance, general essay and MBA application advice, and career coaching.

“There’s a big gap in demand and supply of medical equipment [in India]. A lot of organizations are working to bridge that gap, so we thought we could use our expertise to enable those organizations while helping other future applicants in the process,” says Shrey Malpani, one of the founders of the COVID-19 relief initiative.

Students Fight COVID was started by seven incoming Wharton MBAs and has spread to over 260 admits from top b-schools across three continents, including Kellogg School of Management, the Indian School of Business, NYU Stern, Columbia Business School, Oxford Saïd Business School, INSEAD, and Harvard Business School.

Over 200 mentees have benefited from the program and $15,000 has been raised to date.

“If we are able to get this going on a large scale, we could mobilize funds on a larger scale than each of us can do individually—that’s the main goal; to make a significant impact on the ground,” says co-founder Tarang Gupta.

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