Scott Edinburgh
December 21, 2021

What Omicron Might Mean for Your MBA Degree Plans

It is hard to believe that nearly two years after publishing our first article on the global pandemic, Personal MBA Coach is continuing to consider how COVID-19 is affecting the MBA application process.

It is easy to jump to panic mode as news of yet another, potentially vaccine-resistant, variant spreads around the globe. However, Personal MBA Coach would like to share a few thoughts about how this new strain of the all-too-familiar virus might affect the MBA application cycle and your MBA degree plans.

First and foremost, uncertainly is here to stay – at least for the foreseeable future.

While this is the news no one wants to hear, it may be time to accept the fact that COVID-19 might change some of the realities of the MBA experience. Putting your MBA plans on hold until some point “after the pandemic” might no longer be practical. Throughout the pandemic we have sent clients around the world to top schools. They have studied, networked and recruited. We hear positive things from all clients at top schools. Post-MBA employment is very strong and with many remote positions, additional opportunities have emerged that were not possible a few years ago.

The pandemic may not be “over” soon, so Personal MBA Coach advises candidates to consider whether an MBA is right for you in the long run. If the answer is yes AND you already have 3 to 6 years of pre-MBA experience, waiting until things are back to normal may unfortunately be futile. Personal MBA Coach advises 2022-2023 applicants to begin their Early Planning in January/February of 2022. Given this new spike in cases, it is unlikely that we will have any answers as to when the pandemic will end by that time.

The good news is that MBA programs have learned to adapt to this new reality, and while technology has certainly changed the MBA education, in almost every instance this change has been for the better.

Schools that continue to offer hybrid learning opportunities have adjusted their teaching tools and practices to accommodate remote students. For instance, Wharton classrooms have been equipped with an extra camera so that virtual students have a closer view of the professor. At Harvard Business School, in-ceiling microphones help pick up and enhance audio within a classroom. These technological investments schools made during the pandemic facilitate connections like never before. Further, some schools are starting to invest in Virtual Reality (VR) and other forms of educational technology. For example, INSEAD has turned to VR as a new learning experience to help students explore different scenarios and business challenges.

Programs also now offer courses that delve into this virtual world. Columbia Business School’s Virtual Reality & Artificial Intelligence class examines how these new technology forms are forever shaping and transforming the media landscape.

Even if you are not worried about the MBA experience, you may be asking: But why should I go to business school now when jobs are easier to find?

The answer to that question is simple – the MBA is a LONG-TERM investment. As information gathered from the Graduate Management Admissions Council’s latest Enrolled Student Survey Report shows, the vast majority of MBA students remain confident that business school is worth the price tag.

Even with the pandemic, MBA graduates are reporting a 77% increase in median salary post-MBA compared to the salary of those with a bachelor’s degree. With the median post-MBA earnings at $115,000, this salary premium could help MBA graduates earn $3 million more than bachelor’s degree holders over the course of 35 years.

Plus, by applying to business school when employment is strong and uncertainty is high, your odds of getting admitted to your top school or earning a coveted scholarship increase. Taking a risk during these tumultuous times definitely can work in your favor.

All of that said, we do expect that some changes to the MBA application process will remain for some time:

1. Interviews continue to be virtual (for the most part).

We do not expect a return to in-person interviews anytime soon for all schools. However, one of our clients recently interviewed in-person with a school, so this has happened in small pockets. As technology becomes more sophisticated and interviewers adjust to the virtual format, they are beginning to see the benefits of virtual interviews in reducing travel time and scheduling complexity. While at some point fully in-person interviews may become a reality, we would not be surprised if virtual interviews continue to account for a sizeable percentage of overall interview volume.

2. Test waivers may be extended another year.

While the jury is still out as to whether GMAT/GRE/EA scores are truly needed to make optimal admissions decisions, Personal MBA Coach would be surprised if those schools with waivers in place rush to remove them for the upcoming cycle. Of course, it is too early to know for sure.

3. Candidates will not be expected to visit campuses.

International travel remains a risk, and we do not expect any admissions directors to fault candidates for not making a trip to their campuses. The good news is that this lowers the barriers to application as candidates no longer need to include travel expenses in your MBA application budget.

All together, these factors ease the MBA application process. So, if you have been considering an MBA, do not let Omicron hold you back if you are planning to apply in round 3 or next fall!

No matter what stage of the application process you are in, Personal MBA Coach is willing to be your guide. We offer comprehensive and early planning services to help you successfully navigate the application process and achieve your MBA dreams.

About Personal MBA Coach:

Founded by a Wharton MBA and MIT Sloan graduate who sits on the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants Board of Directors, Personal MBA Coach has been guiding clients for 14 years and is consistently ranked #1 or #2 by leading sources including Poets&Quants.

We help clients with all aspects of the MBA application process including early planning, GMAT/GRE/EA tutoring, application strategy, school selection, essay editing, and mock interviews. Our team includes former M7 admissions directors and former M7 admissions interviewers.

Last year, our clients earned more than $6.5M in scholarships!