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Business Schools Breaking Enrollment Records

BusinessWeek magazine has a story this week on the overwhelming, and surprising, applications to business schools across the nation this year. Admissions directors at most schools were expecting a drop off in enrollment due to three factors. In recent years the MBA has lost some of its luster on job applications because of a flooded market.

Business administration degrees have been a popular higher education choice for so long that the supply finally outran the demand. The second issue admissions officers saw as a drag on applications was the uncertainty of the economy. There is relative safety these days in a job, any job, and many would-be graduate school applicants don't want to devote two more years to student life.

The third issue, one that is in play for more and more college students, is the projected return on investment. Will forty or fifty thousand dollars in additional student debt be balanced out by higher paying job opportunities? Despite the financial issue and the uncertain job market, most of the top business schools have seen a hike in fall registrations. The "summer melt" that occurs when a certain percentage of accepted students back out, did not occur this year at many schools.

The business schools at mid-level universities show a mixed enrollment picture: some experienced drop off while others enrolled record numbers of students. The other emerging trends are for business school applicants to opt for an accelerated program, completing a master's degree in one year, or choose a less expensive online degree program that can also be a choice for working individuals.

Statistics on hiring show that graduates from accounting schools and students with business degrees in finance are among the most sought after college graduates in the employment market. Many people who want a degree to leverage their employment prospects are looking at a business degree as a management credential and are choosing distance learning programs or evening courses at local universities.

The market for premier MBA degrees is lucrative but it's not an option available to most students. Then again, most business school students are there to enhance job prospects in general rather than targeting top corporate positions.

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