Applications to the Business School fell for the first time in a decade to 3400 for the Class of 1973 compared to 3800 for the Class of 1972, Gale D. Merseth, director of M.B.A. admissions, said last Wednesday.
Merseth said the decline "will not be significant in terms of the quality of the students admitted."
The Admissions Committee has considered about 3200 of the applications for a class of 750 and will not finish deliberations until mid-June. Although the official applications deadline was May 1, applications were accepted until May 15.
Merseth attributed the applications deadline to a number of factors, including the tight job market. "People who have good jobs are reluctant to give them up. Most people fohfeit $25,000 to $30,000 in total income to come here, leading to a two-year cost of $40,000 to $50,000," he added.
Most M.B.A. students have had some "organizational experience" such as a job in business or public administration before coming to the Business School, Merseth said. Only 20 per cent enter directly out of college, while 40 per cent of the applications are from college seniors, he added.
Merseth said applications from college seniors have also declined, and attributed this to a "stigma" businessschools have developed, "particularly in the last couple of years. There is a problem with the image of business that people have and what they perceive our graduates to be doing. More students now than ever before are interested in using the administrative skills learned here in areas other than business."
Applications from Harvard have not declined, however. Although final figures for this year are not yet available. Merseth said they would be similar to last year's when 25 of the 60 Harvard seniors who applied were accepted. A total of 150 Harvard seniors and graduates have applied this year.
There will be between 30 and 35 women in the Class of 1973, but no applications were received from Radcliffe students. Only three Radcliffe students are now enrolled in the M.B.A. program.
The number of women students has increased, however, over the last few years from "zero not very long ago" to 33 in the Class of 1971, Merseth said.
There has also been a significant rise in minority students attending the Business School. Seventy are enrolled this year compared to seven in 1969.
Merseth said he did not think the tuition increase of $600 to $3400, effective next fall, was a cause of the applications decline because the change was not announced until mid-winter, after most applications were received.
Noting the dramatic increase in Law School applications this year, Merseth said, "People have this perception that law school leaves a lot more options open. I'm not sure that's true. Our society is highly institutionalized, and there are a wide range of managerial positions available other than in business."