Get 'em while they're young, stupid and don't know any better, as Ken Lewis has often sagaciously noted. BusinessWeek reports that a gaggle of B-schools are actively courting college students, hoping to get them to commit to MBA programs before they've completed undergrad, sometimes as early as freshman year, or at least before they've had the chance to date rape someone. Though admissions officials are doing stuff like lowering age requirements, accepting GRE scores in lieu of GMAT, and sending representatives into first year dorms with the directive to not take no for an answer, they claim they're just meeting a demand by the youth of America, who are dying to get a piece of this MBA ass, on account of a lack of jobs and harping parents.
The surge in interest in MBA programs from the so-called millenial generation is being driven by a confluence of factors: a weak job market for undergraduates, a growing openness by business schools to younger applicants, and parents urging their children to consider graduate school at an earlier age, says Julia Tyler, a vice-president of the Graduate Management Admissions Council, which administers the GMAT exam
"I'm speculating here, but it may be that parents are at cocktail parties and they hear their friends talk about how their child is going to law school and medical school at 21 and they think, why not business school?" Tyler says. "I do think there is an influence of the helicopter-parent factors here that shouldn't be underestimated."
And if you thought this new movement was simply for third tier institutions who'll take a warm body any way they can get it, think again. Harvard is getting in on the fun via its 2+2 Program, wherein the prospective oath-takers of the world can apply to HBS while still in college and secure a slot in a future class, provided they graduate and get two years of work experience. Likewise, a similar initiative is being considered at Jack Welch's Online School Of Business applicants, where applicants needn't provide proof of having yet graduated from high school. As long as they're hungry enough to educate themselves in the art of how to conduct oneself on-board a corporate jet, under the tutelage of adjunct professor Bartiromo, they'll be considered.
For the skeptismos in the group, wondering if this will "dilute the MBA experience," or if, as an older student, you'll want to gouge your eyes out if forced to attend class alongside a bunch of whippersnappers who wouldn't know what to do with a secretary if their lives depended on it, do not fear. Apparently everyone is getting along great.
This has not been the case at [University of Rochester's] Simon School, says admissions director Greg MacDonald. The older, more experienced students tend to reach out to the Early Leaders to help them get acclimated back into the academic world, while the younger students turn to their older counterparts for networking advice and industry connections.
"Some of the older students might be critics coming in, but often, many of them will end up graduating as some of the biggest supporters of the Early Leaders initiative," MacDonald said.
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