Being a business school used to be a cushy business, but no more:
…applications to BusinessWeek’s Top 30 MBA programs have dropped almost 30% overall since 1998, with some schools seeing declines of 50% or more. And with the job market improving, more prospective applicants may find themselves with opportunities that will, if history is any indicator, pull them away from B-school.
What’s more, to cope with sliding interest, some schools have gone so far as to quietly reduce the number of students they enroll each year…Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business has cut its class size from 240 students to a target of 160. Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Management dropped from 220 to 180 students per class. Other schools have done the same. “We’re seeing more of our peer schools competing with us for the same students,” says James W. Bradford, dean at Vanderbilt. “Schools are setting new expectations based on what the market is.” Even as they’re downsizing their expectations, some schools that were historically highly selective, admitting fewer than 20% to 25% of applicants, gave a thumbs-up to 35% or more applicants for the class entering last fall. Vanderbilt, for one, admitted some 68% of its applicants in 2004 — up 30 points in just four year.