High SOM yield rate limits space

After an increase in its admissions yield, the School of Management faces tight space constraints, espcially in terms of study spaces.
After an increase in its admissions yield, the School of Management faces tight space constraints, espcially in terms of study spaces. Photo by Kamaria Greenfield.

After an unexpected increase in admissions yield for the School of Management’s full-time MBA program, the school is now facing tighter space constraints than ever before.

The 4 percent increase in the 2011-’12 admissions cycle yield to 46 percent brought approximately 20 more students than last year into the first-year MBA student body. Though the school intends to grow in size as it transitions to its new campus set to open in spring 2014, the yield increase is both a blessing and a curse. The higher yield, which has remained relatively constant in recent years, suggests that SOM may be in higher demand, but space will remain an issue until it moves to the new campus.

“We’re definitely cramped — I would agree with that,” Snyder said. “I’ve seen several students extending … into the sort of nooks and crannies in the hallways, and I’ve seen groups of students outside late in the day during the week, and basically on the picnic tables.”

SOM Director of Admissions Bruce DelMonico pointed to several factors as possible explanations for the uptick in yield, including greater funding for scholarships and the school’s new network of partnerships with foreign business schools — all initiatives SOM Dean Edward Snyder started since taking office in July 2011.

When Snyder arrived at SOM last academic year, he came with an impressive track record at the University’s Booth School of Business, which soared through business school rankings during his nine-year tenure and gained several large donations including a $300 million naming gift, the largest in business school history.

“It’s tough to disaggregate the various factors,” DelMonico said. “I have no doubt that [Snyder’s arrival] did help, given not just the fact that he’s high-profile but that he’s also been very vocal internally about making sure that we don’t just do good things, but let others know about them, too.”

Though this year’s growth in the MBA population at SOM was unexpected, it fits into a larger growth plan designed to increase the size of the full-time MBA program from roughly 450 students last year to 600 students by 2017. Snyder said the MBA student body will grow to roughly 500 next year, adding that the newly introduced Master’s of Advanced Management degree, which has accounted for yet another 20-student addition to the overall student body this year, will grow to roughly 60 students.

Until the school begins to use its new 242,000-square-foot campus on Whitney Avenue in spring 2014, each additional student is noticeable at the current facilities, which are less than half the size of the new building.

Five students interviewed said the size of SOM’s current campus leads to a “cozy” environment, and they all added that space contraints are generally manageable.

Caitlin Sullivan SOM ’13, president of SOM’s student government, said the major issue with the current facility is its shortage of study spaces for students to use in groups. A large part of the first-year MBA curriculum involves group projects, she said, adding that it was already difficult to find suitable spaces for work last year, before the size of the student body increased.

Still, the discomfort caused by the current facilities has contributed to the cohesion of the student body, according to two first-year students interviewed.. Boris Sigal SOM ’14 said the fact that people often bond over shared complaints has helped students deal humorously with issues like whiteboards that cannot erase and an air conditioning system he described as a “tornado force within the building.”

“It’s kind of a gritty place to study if you look at it from the outside, and inside,” Sigal said, adding that studying business at SOM has enforced a sense of humility he said is important to management.

All seven professors interviewed said they felt the increase in student body size has not affected the classroom dynamic at the school since the spike in the first-year MBA population is spread across the class’s four “cohorts,” or sections, and Master’s of Advanced Management students pursue a wide range of elective courses rather than all following one curriculum.

There are currently 249 first-year and 227 second-year MBA students at SOM..

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