Survey reveals what potential students look for when deciding on an MBA

A step up from previous years, the rise and potential of entrepreneurship is now one of the top reasons, among several others, as to why students wish to pursue an MBA.

Amidst several reports undermining the value of an MBA and its decline comes the Tomorrow’s MBA study, conducted by CarringtonCrisp and constituting of the voices and opinions of more than a 1000 potential MBA students from 82 countries.

One of the survey’s key findings were the reasons behind students wanting to pursue an MBA, of which the rise in earning potential took priority, while other factors such as employability and the want to be internationally recognised made the list as well. The desire to venture into entrepreneurship too topped the list as the fifth most significant reason, up from 10th place in last year’s survey. The sudden push of this specific topic of interest brings to mind the need for an MBA’s content to be tailored differently so as to support and acquire more students’ interests, that “Given this interest, schools should think about what they teach, career services provided and how they align programmes with this growing demand.”

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With the Kauffman Index of Start-up Activity reporting that 550,000 individuals emerge as entrepreneurs each month in America, it’s an easy task at a glimpse of the entrepreneurship boom in recent years. Several reasons, such as the ease with which ideas can now be brought to life, and a changing and more encouraging economy, entrepreneurs often tend to gain success, walking down such a path.

The survey also detailed several other findings, such as the number of women who are actively considering working towards an MBA, making up to a complete 42% of the total candidate number, the highest to be recorded in previous surveys. Andrew Crisp, owner of CarringtonCrisp, highlights the advance in technology as a vital factor in allowing more women to pursue an MBA, with methods such as online distance learning now easily accessible to the overall population, such as for women “who’ve come out of the labour force for a while – maybe they’ve been having children – to do an MBA without having to sit in a classroom of men who are trying to get into a finance career, with everything that goes with the culture of some of the big finance houses,” says Crisp.

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Following up on this, Crisp additionally remarks that it would be the successful schools who realise that it is integral to market to both potential male and female candidates, keeping in mind the difference in each gender’s perceptions and opinions of what they look for in an MBA and the additional services offered to them. A fine example of this is the difference both genders hold in valuing assistance while in search of an internship, with female candidates ranking at 72% while male candidates ranked at a lower 60%.

The essentiality of career services being part of an MBA course too was present in the findings, with 72% of individuals desiring for help in planning a career which would make them more employable in the near future.

On the topic of what can be called an “MBA 2.0,” –which seeks to be more flexible and look into the changing and growing interests of potential candidates –technology’s advance has been quite a game-changer, with the survey reporting that, as it now stands, more than a quarter of potential candidates prefer flexible or online MBAs, instead of the usual one-year, full-time MBA.

As a final note, Crisp advises schools offering MBAs that “It’s not necessarily the longest running programmes that are going to be the best; it’s going to be the ones that are quickest to adapt, that embrace the new technology, that use it to best effect to deliver a really outstanding online experience.”