Recession Provides Opportune Time For GLBT Professionals Seeking Admission To Business School
Posted: 02/02/2009 - 16:53
• By Scott Shrum, MBA
When the economy takes a downturn, one common byproduct is a surge in business school applications as young professionals elect to sit out a soft job market in the relatively safe confines of an MBA program. Despite the increased demand for graduate business education stemming from the current economic slowdown, the GLBT business school applicant is in a unique position to secure a coveted seat in a leading MBA program.
The term “diversity” is a bit cliché in the 21st century, the traditional conception of which alludes solely to differences in gender or race. Today’s notion of diversity, however, transcends sex and ethnic origin to encompass a variety of other characteristics that yield a variety of viewpoints and experiences. In fact, sexual orientation is emerging as a crucial contributor to diversity in both educational and corporate settings, offering a vital vehicle through which prospective GLBT students can differentiate themselves in the crowded field of similar-looking MBA applicants.
Diverse leadership is a strategic priority in business, and accordingly, cultivating diversity in each entering class is a key priority for business schools. In fact, a recent Veritas Prep survey found that nearly 90 percent of admissions officers at top 30 business schools wish they had a more diverse entering class. Students hailing from a variety of backgrounds and circumstances create a vibrant learning environment and reflect the makeup of today’s business world; therefore, it is important for GLBT students to identify themselves as unique and stress how their contribution to the business school setting will be distinctive.
For many GLBT applicants, divulging their sexual orientation in the MBA application is more of an asset than a liability, and is a way to express their diversity and make a connection with the school. This was the case for Mike Crosby, an MBA admissions consultant and Stanford Graduate School of Business alum. “Schools seek authenticity, and my status as an openly gay man and my desire to serve as a leader and a role model for the gay community was so fundamental to my being that I felt it necessary to address in my application essays,” he explained.
However, he notes that this approach carries inherent risk. “There was the chance that the admissions officer reviewing my application would be too closed-minded, or that they wouldn’t see validity in my dream of furthering not only my education but also the gay community as a whole. Had I been denied admission for that reason, it surely would have been a shame, but it would have told me a lot about the level of acceptance cultivated at that particular school. Fortunately, that was not the case.”
On the other hand, there are many extremely qualified candidates—some out, some not—who do not feel as strongly about the GLBT part of their identity. These applicants will elect to discuss other aspects of their lives that they believe set them apart, citing professional background or career ambitions that might catch the attention of the admissions committee.
The bottom line? There is no right or wrong decision when it comes to disclosing your sexual orientation in the MBA application. Much like disclosing marital status or religious affiliation, it is a choice applicants must make for themselves based on their individual preferences and personal convictions.
Whether deciding to pursue an MBA five years ago or five hours ago, GLBT applicants have a unique edge when marketing themselves to admissions officers at top business schools. When a softening economy spurs a corporate exodus of young professionals seeking admission to business school, applicants should embrace points of difference as opposed to burying them in admissions essays. The very things that make GLBT applicants different could be what scores them a seat in a desirable MBA program.
Scott Shrum is the director of MBA admissions research at Veritas Prep, the fastest-growing GMAT test prep and admissions consulting provider in the world. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Scott is the co-author of Your MBA Game Plan: Proven Strategies for Getting Into the Top Business Schools and is considered a preeminent thought leader on maximizing students’ chances of admission into top business schools.
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