Is business school worth it?

Is business school worth it? It's a fair enough question considering the average cost of one year at a top-ten MBA program is currently $58,554 in the U.S., not including opportunity cost (lost income). Taking two years off from the professional world during the height of working years is a scary proposition to say the least.

As the peak of the recession fades from view and more jobs become available, less people in the U.S. seem to be ready to take on that risk. Applications to business school have dropped off significantly with elite institutions like The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania seeing a 12% decrease over four years (as of 2013).

It's not only Wharton feeling the pinch as applicants dry up. Schools like Harvard are lowering their application barriers to attract more potential students. In order to gain admission to the fabled program one decade ago a prospective MBA had to complete eight essays, today there is one and it's optional. Columbia Business School is asking its applicants to sum up their career goals in just 75 characters.

Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett says that focusing on the number of applicants isn't the right way to fix business school in the U.S. It's about offering students more. He compares business school to the retail industry. Sure there's a lot of competition online but if a store offers a "richer, better and deeper" experience it still does well. Garrett believes that the pressure is good for the current business school model. "It forces us to focus on the real value add of an on-campus degree," he says. "It can't just be the credential and the stamp."..

Read full story: Yahoo Finance (blog)

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