Kaplan Test Prep Survey: Most U.S. Business Schools Concerned that the Current Political Climate Will Diminish International Enrollment

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Press Contact: Russell Schaffer, russell.schaffer@kaplan.com, 212.453.7538
Twitter: @KapTestNews, @KaplanGMATPrep


New York, NY (March 28, 2018) –  The vast majority (68 percent) of the most competitive business schools in the United States are concerned that the current domestic political climate will have a negative impact on international student enrollment in the years to come, according to a new Kaplan Test Prep nationwide survey*. Those concerns may be warranted. A recent report from Graduate Management Admission Council, the organization that writes the GMAT, found that only 32% of U.S. programs saw growing international application volumes in 2017, versus 49% in 2016. America’s loss seems to be Canada’s gain, as the country’s northern neighbor is reporting a 77% gain in international applications, up from just 46% in 2016. As part of the Kaplan survey, one business school admissions officer shared that it is particularly concerned about losing Mexican applicants to schools in Canada, while another business school said that some prospective international students withdrew their candidacies before they completed the applicant evaluation process. But one school said that any decline should only be temporary, citing what happened after September 11, which prompted a decline in applications, followed by a rebound.

But American business schools concerned about a potential decline have messages of inclusion and encouragement for prospective business school students from outside the United States who may not view the country as a particularly welcoming place for them:

  • “We have gone out of our way – did a video and sent letters to our current students as well as our connections outside the country – to tell people that we embrace diversity.”
  • “We simply share with them that this is uncharted territory for all of us. The economy is very strong right now. Even if all they get is an incredible education and internship, that’s an incredible thing to market in their home country.”
  • “We try to use alumni who are non-U.S. to help promote program. Florida is very welcoming and diverse, with a large international population, from South America, and Central America for example. We also just launched scholarships for international students to demonstrate financially that they are welcome.”
  • “Because there are challenges, we need students like you. This is a short-term thing.”
  • “We reassure students that there are not real issues as opposed to the hype in media that’s out there.”

“Many business schools pride themselves on their robust international student presence and a culture that’s welcoming to aspiring MBAs from outside the U.S. In fact, it’s often a recruitment platform for attracting future international students, in addition to American applicants who also appreciate a globally diverse learning environment. With many U.S. business schools relying on international students to make up upwards of 30 percent of their total student population, it’s likely that they are adjusting their recruitment strategies accordingly,” says Noah Teitelbaum, executive director of pre-business programs, Kaplan Test Prep. “What American business school leaders can take heart in is that a volatile political climate doesn’t necessarily lead to a long term cratering of students from abroad, as British business schools continue to see robust growth in international applicants, despite initial Brexit worries. The next few admissions cycles will tell us if what we are seeing in the United States right now is a blip on the radar screen or part of a more consequential multiyear trend.”

For a one-minute video on Kaplan’s survey results, visit here.

To schedule an interview about Kaplan’s survey results, please contact Russell Schaffer at russell.schaffer@kaplan.com or 212.453.7538.

*Based on the results of a Kaplan Test Prep survey conducted by phone between August and October 2017. The survey included responses from 138 business schools, including 17 of the top 50, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

About Kaplan Test Prep

Kaplan Test Prep (www.kaptest.com) is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 100 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys, physicians and nurses. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services.                                                                         

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