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​Independence Day: Why US Business Schools Still Rock!

​For career-driven MBAs, US business schools offer life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

Tue Jul 4 2017

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

So go the famous words put down on paper and adopted as the United States Declaration of Independence 241 years ago.

With Donald Trump’s aggressive stance on immigration, travel bans and VISA restrictions, those unalienable rights might seem alien to some, well, aliens residing in the United States.

Still, the US business school community remains a beacon of openness and opportunity, with domestic and international MBA students looking to further their careers by studying in the US. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), 58% of full-time MBA candidates looking to study abroad have their hearts set on the US.

“The Founding Fathers forgot about women in that sentence, but nonetheless, these rights are still relevant today – and it’s important to think of them in the context of our careers,” says expert b-school admissions consultant Barbara Coward.

“So much of our happiness is connected to our careers where we can easily spend 50% of our total waking hours, especially in today's ‘always-on’ digital age. The bottom line is that you don't have to be stuck in an unhappy or unfulfilling career. You are not limited by your undergraduate major or your first job out of college.

“You have the right to change careers, to reinvent yourself, to revolutionize your future. Business schools are the ‘Independence Hall’ of careers to make that happen.”

Seven signers of the Declaration of Independence were educated at Harvard. For many, US business schools provide a platform for sure-fire career progression and change.

Temple University’s Fox School of Business – where 34% of full-time MBA students are international and 48% are female – placed 100% of its MBA grads into jobs in 2016. 93% of MBAs at The Ohio State University’s Max M. Fisher College of Business landed new jobs within three months of graduation.

At Hult International Business School – which has US campuses in Boston, San Francisco, and New York – 99% of graduating students change either industry, role, or location. Hult graduates accepted job offers from 825 companies in over 60 countries worldwide in 2016

At Chicago Booth – ranked the best MBA program in the world by the Economist – the New Venture Challenge (NVC) startup accelerator has helped fund over 140 successful businesses started by student entrepreneurs, including multi-billion dollar food-delivery platform GrubHub.

John Sakakini, a recent MBA graduate from the George Washington University School of Business (GWSB) speaking on the Fourth of July, is set to start his new job at Delta Air Lines in two weeks' time.

“A GWSB MBA has given me the ability and freedom to pursue careers I couldn't even begin to look at with just an BA,” he says. “The leadership, international experience, and business savvy I learned at GWSB helped to make me a competitive candidate in the job market.”

Can US business schools continue to attract international MBA students? The current political situation is a cause for concern.

Last year, applications to two-year MBA programs fell in 53% of US business schools, while 74% of one-year MBA programs in Europe reported growth, according to GMAC.

Scott Edinburgh, a Wharton grad and CEO of admissions consultancy Personal MBA Coach, remains positive: “US MBA programs are doing very well overall, with many programs seeing dramatic increases in applications, both from domestic and international applicants,” he says.

“For instance, MIT Sloan, Yale SOM, Michigan Ross and many others saw double digit percentage increases in applications in the last season. Berkeley Haas is increasing its class size from 245 to 275 this year and 300 next year,” he continues.

“As the economy continues to improve, professionals are becoming more comfortable with taking time off to go to school and receive the extra push needed to rise at their current companies or make the leap to new jobs they may not have been comfortable making previously.”

Barbara agrees: “The state of the full-time MBA in the US is strong. Business schools play an important role through the international diversity of the student population, bringing together divergent perspectives and experiences from all over the world to collaborate and solve problems.

“It's important to recognize that this annual holiday is about freedom at large," she continues. "While the United States celebrates its independence from Great Britain, it's somewhat ironic that our society is more connected on a global scale than ever before.”