SOM apps rise 4 percent

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With the economy officially in recession, applications to Yale’s School of Management have increased with those looking to take shelter from the economic downturn.

SOM reported a 4 percent increase in applications for the first round of its 2008-’09 admissions cycle, Director of Admissions Bruce DelMonico said Wednesday. The school, which has three rounds of applications annually, received 928 applications by its October deadline, up from 894 last year. Based on historical trends, that number places SOM on pace to receive over 3,000 total applications for enrollment during the 2008-’09 academic year.

“We’re seeing not only greater numbers, but also greater quality,” DelMonico said.

This year’s pool of first-round applicants is also the strongest in recent years. Applicants averaged a 698 of 800 points on the GMAT, the business school admissions test, two points higher than the first-round applicant class of 2007-’08. That score places the average SOM applicant just below the 92nd percentile of test-takers.

SOM administrators attributed the increase in applications partly to curricular changes made by former dean Joel Podolny and partly to the bearish economic climate.

“Students have fewer outside options than they used to,” SOM Dean Sharon Oster said, referring to the nation’s depressed job market.

The increase of applications at SOM reflects a nationwide trend of rising business school applications. An August report released by the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the GMAT test, showed 77 percent of business schools reporting increases in application levels, a five-year high for that metric.

Higher education consultants Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions have seen enrollment in graduate school preparation programs rise over 50 percent in the past two months alone, said Priya Dasgupta, the firm’s director of graduate programs.

“Whenever there is a market downturn, many students and young professionals see graduate school as an opportunity to kick-start or reevaluate their careers,” Dasgupta said. “Going back to school helps you get a better critical broader skill set to become more hirable.”

Oster also said buzz sparked by the 2006 school’s curricular overhaul — spearheaded by former dean Joel Podolny — continues to contribute to rising application numbers; the curriculum replaced the traditional model of an MBA education with a more interdisciplinary approach. Podolny resigned from the deanship in November to become the dean of Apple University, Apple Inc.’s in-house training program.

The school’s participation in The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, a group that pairs underrepresented minority students with 14 business schools across the country, also added 78 first-round applications to SOM’s pool. In addition to boosting application numbers, SOM’s participation in The Consortium more than doubled the number of underrepresented minority students — which include African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans — that applied to the school, DelMonico said.

SOM will also accept several more of its applicants this year than it has in years past. Deputy Dean Stan Garstka told the News last month that the school will attempt to shore up falling endowment returns by increasing revenue from tuition. DelMonico expects next year’s entering class to have 195–200 students, up from 193 MBA candidates this year. These extra students will face a squeeze until 2011, Garstka said, until the school can erect its new campus on Whitney Avenue.

Even with SOM preparing to accept a handful more students, the school will remain highly selective. The school admitted 14 percent of applicants last year. DelMonico said it was too early in the admissions cycle to anticipate what SOM’s admissions rate would be this year.

SOM will notify first round applicants of the school’s decision in early January.

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