CHANNELING INTERNATIONAL MBA APPLICANTS TO EUROPEAN BRANCHES OF AMERICAN COLLEGES

 

On the surface, the picture is far from rosy. American business schools are in decline. Trump’s rhetoric is channeling international MBA applicants to European branches of American colleges. Still, American admissions departments are resilient, working hard to keep their large and established share of the market. In USA, both top and mid-tier business schools continue to attract top-quality international applicants to their MBA programs.

The Magnificent Seven need no introduction. Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, Columbia Business School, MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management are the cream of the business school crop. M7 is the Holy Grail of the MBA Kingdom. Every year, thousands of applicants will apply to the M7 schools, and most will fail to crack the code, because these schools are the most selective in the B-school landscape. Two years at any of the M7 schools will set a student back about $200,000, but there are many scholarships from alumni and employers. M7 attracts the most talented students and faculty, and certainly the most corporate recruiters offering the most sought-after jobs. M7 also boasts highly achieving alumni and valuable networks in nearly every walk of life. But other business schools, such as Webster Athens, provide a similar education at a small fraction of the cost.

Webster Athens has an excellent MBA program. Webster Athens is dedicated to fostering a campus culture that embraces and celebrates diversity and inclusion, and promotes international understanding and appreciation. Preparing students for effective, responsible and dynamic involvement in the modern societies in which they live and serve, and for excellence and leadership in their personal and professional lives. The campus is located in Athens, Greece – in the historic district of Plaka. Your Global Learning Experience begins in Webster Athens.

3,649 people applied for Yale’s full-time MBA program in the 2015-to-2016 application round, with the school accepting 19% of applicants. Yale has already exceeded those numbers in the current cycle.

46% of the 334 MBA students in the graduating class of 2018 are international passports holders. Although international applications have not grown quite as quickly as domestic applications in the past two years, Yale is yet to feel any ‘Trump Effect.’

Asia tends to be the Yale’s largest source of international applicants, typically from China and India. This year, they’ve received an increasing number of applications from smaller Southeast Asian countries like Thailand as well.

Rebekah Lewin, assistant dean of admissions at the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School, has also seen international MBA applications continue to grow.

Simon’s full-time MBA program receives 900-to-1000 applications each recruitment cycle. The school’s acceptance rate is around 30%.

105 MBA students enrolled in the fall of 2016, representing 17 different nationalities. MBA classes are typically around 40-to-50% international.

“We’ve actually been going against market trends,” says Rebekah, who enrolled on the Simon MBA program herself back in 2000. “There’s been a real big push on our part in terms of opening our applicant pool and growing our enrollment.”

One tactic that’s worked well for Simon Business School has been the hosting of free online webinars for prospective students, on anything from application tips, financing an MBA, and career orientated sessions. Numbers have varied from 20-to-30 participants for more targeted sessions, to several webinars attracting over 100 engaged applicants.

Out on the road, Rebekah has faced questions about the current political situation in the US and the impact on internationals finding jobs, but she’s not concerned.

“Whenever there’s a period of uncertainty there will be questions asked,” she says. “These kinds of challenges are not new, and we’ve been successful in addressing them in the past.”

Whether your interest is management, marketing, or communication, you will be an active learner at Webster Athens.  The classrooms give many hands-on experiences in various cases, and the location in the capital of Greece provides plenty of internship opportunities. With a low student-to-faculty ratio and average class size, Webster Athens makes business education personal. Faculty get to know students on a first-name basis and are readily available to help students when needed. Webster Athens is dedicated to excellence in business teaching, incorporating a global business perspective throughout the curriculum. Every step of the way, students receive the attention and support they need to thrive in business.

At Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management, a new international recruitment plan – launched in 2013 – prompted a huge increase in international student representation in the full-time MBA class; from 68% in 2015 to 96% in 2016.

Shri Ramakrishnan, assistant director of graduate recruitment at the school – which caps its intake at 50 full-time MBA students each year – travelled on various recruitment tours, attending events, and meeting candidates in person in the Fall of 2016.

“Doing in-person recruitment is very helpful,” she says. “We’re seeing quality candidates come from specific regions who match our program requirements.”

Again, Asia is Whitman’s biggest market for international MBA applicants. 63% of international students in the 2016 MBA class were from India. The school has current students from Taiwan, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam. China is a big focus, although Shri has seen increasing numbers of Chinese applicants choosing more specialized master’s programs over the MBA.

Webster Athens offers a fantastic MBA program in a flexible structure which promotes academic depth and encourages business graduate students to explore diverse business interests. At Webster Athens, students have opportunities to build skills and competencies through study trips, conferences, and internships. On the campus, students study in a culturally diverse environment that will create a life-long international network.

Donald Trump’s travel ban is always a hot topic of conversation among wary international applicants. Shri too, is concerned about the current presidency’s potential impact on MBA applications in the future. However, the decline she’s seen in applications has been more from domestic rather than prospective international MBAs.

“The domestic pool everybody is competing for has been dwindling every year,” she says. “With that in mind, our focus has been very international.”

To boost international diversity, Arizona State University’s WP Carey School of Business, has taken a more radical approach. In 2016, it rolled out its new Forward Focus MBA, with the university covering 100% of all incoming MBA students’ tuition.

Consequently – and after a lot of press coverage – applications more than doubled from around 500 in 2015 to 1,159 in 2016. This year, numbers have levelled out to around 650 well-matched applicants.

24 nationalities were represented in last year’s MBA class. And WP Carey’s Forward Focus MBA jumped from 35th to 25th in this year’s US News & World Report rankings.

“I don’t know of any other school that’s offering full scholarships to all its full-time MBA students,” says Pam Delany, WP Carey’s director of graduate admission and recruitment.

“With the scholarships that we offer, we’re able to open our doors to people who may have never considered applying to a full-time MBA because of the cost. We’re seeing more diversity in the classroom.”

Incoming WP Carey MBAs become Forward Focus fellows and give back to the school by working on faculty research projects, running MBA clubs, and designing new student workshops.

The two-year format means most US MBA programs cost more than shorter MBA programs in Europe. So, US business schools are doing their best – also through scholarships and financial aid – to ease the financial burden for prospective MBA students.

When internationals come to study at business schools in the US, they’re often required to sign a financial guarantee form to show they have the funds to support their tuition. WP Carey has just decided to accept loan guarantees from banks in India.

Many banks are reluctant to lend internationally. Like the majority of top-ranked US business schools, WP Carey is partnered with peer-to-peer lending platform Prodigy Finance, which provides international MBA students with the funds they need to study abroad.

Vasilis Botopoulos, Chancellor of Webster Athens, points out: As we look to the future one thing is certain – knowledge will be a key resource and will be highly sought-after around the world. Our challenge is to help to generate ideas that will benefit society, and to educate and train people to work in fields where they will be valued both for their specialized knowledge, and for their ability to communicate and solve problems. To meet these challenges we need to build on the alliances and collaborative partnerships the University has established with business, government, and other institutions. It is equally important that we keep close to our wider communities of interest. This will help to ensure the on-going relevance of our academic programs and the continued excellence of our teaching and learning.

Founded by a team of INSEAD MBAs, Prodigy Finance has processed over $250m in loans, funding tuition for more than 6,200 international MBA students.

“We’ve actually seen an increase in international applications across all our programs,” Pam continues. “But what we’re seeing is students are being admitted, and then they’re just waiting to decide – waiting to see what’s happening here in the US with our political climate.”

The University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business faces a more unique recruitment challenge than most.

Ranked the number one international MBA program in the US by the US News & World Report, International MBA students at Darla Moore are required to complete a four-month international marketplace immersion, completing a consulting project and learning another language abroad.

“All this creates a program that caters to a specific type of applicant,” says Marcelo Frias, managing director of full-time MBA Programs at Darla Moore.

Darla Moore is redesigning its International MBA to remove the compulsory language learning element. But international applications have remained constant. 39% of the current International MBA class come from outside the US. There’s good demand for the program from Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America, although the European market is getting tougher to break.

Still, Marcelo is confident that the school’s unique proposition is more of a help than a hindrance when it comes to attracting international MBAs.

“If say, you come from Germany to get an education in the US, but you also spend four months in Mexico and learn Spanish in the process – there are an enormous number of American companies that would die to find people like that.”

Botopoulos notes: The greater vision of Webster Athens is to build an excellent educational experience embodying mind, body and spirit through a variety of innovative undergraduate and graduate programs. We offer a solid intellectual foundation as well as an extraordinary opportunity for personal growth and thorough understanding of the subject matter. This is learning with ethos, authenticity, cultural understanding, ecological conscience, and service to others.

The majority of international MBA applicants coming to study in the US are looking to stay. Despite renewed fears over visas, US business schools have a good track record in terms of placing their international MBA grads into jobs.

Temple University’s Fox School of Business – where 34% of full-time MBA students are international – placed 100% of its MBA grads into jobs in 2016. Around 90% of international MBA grads from Simon Business School find jobs in the US after graduation.

At Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, the current two-year MBA class is 35% international – the school has a full-time visa advisor on-campus. In 2016, over 96% of all Kellogg MBAs received job offers within three months of graduation – the majority going into US-based consulting firms like Bain and BCG.

Botopoulos says: At Webster Athens we cultivate and build the leaders of tomorrow.  It is our hope that our students and alumni, with ethos and philotimo, will inspire others to live their lives with dignity, integrity and compassion. I invite you to come visit our campus. If you seek learning in a way that is challenging, personal, and meaningful, we would love to have you as part of our community. For more information, please refer to www.webster.edu.gr

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