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Clear Admit Co-Founder Graham Richmond Contributes to Wall Street Journal Article on MIT Sloan’s Oversubscribed Incoming Class

The Wall Street Journal consulted Clear Admit co-founder Graham Richmond as part of an article today about the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s Sloan School of Management, which has given scholarships to a handful of students scheduled to enter this fall in exchange for their agreeing to defer for a year.

Sloan found itself oversubscribed by an unusually high number of students this year, and rather than expand the class size, it sought volunteers willing to wait a year to enroll.

When it didn’t get enough takers, Sloan sweetened the deal to include a $15,000 scholarship to be applied to next year’s tuition, the WSJ reports. Still not getting the response it hoped for, Sloan upped its offer to $20,000. In the end, four students took the offer, and the scholarship, and will begin next year instead. This brings Sloan’s class size to 413 this year, up from 404 last.

As the WSJ reports, Sloan is not the first school to offer money for a deferral, though the practice is uncommon. Sloan made a similar offer last year to incoming students in its master’s in finance program, and in 2006 Yale School of Management offered accepted students a 50 percent tuition rebate for their first year for deferring, according to the WSJ article.

The WSJ turned to Clear Admit’s Richmond for his take on why students weren’t more willing to defer. When the economy was stronger, he said, the opportunity to take a year off to pursue a new venture or take a long vacation was attractive. But the current outlook probably makes a year off less appealing to many, he added.

And just how did Sloan found itself in this position? Admissions consultants believe it has grown harder for schools to predict how many students will change their plans or decide to attend another school after getting in off the waitlist because candidates are applying only to the schools they really want to go to, the WSJ reports. In an emailed statement, Sloan Director of Admissions Rod Garcia said simply that a higher-than-expected number of students stuck with their plan to enroll.

In Clear Admit’s Admissions Director Q&A with Garcia, he shared another factor that he thinks may have contributed to the larger-than-usual yield. “One thing we did differently this year is that we engaged our alumni and asked them to call admitted applicants. I think that really made a difference,” he said. “We knew it would make a difference, but we were not prepared for it to make such a huge difference in terms of yield,” he added.

Garcia called the oversubscribed class “a good problem to have” and noted that other schools are struggling to fill their classes. Still, this year’s situation will impact next year’s applicants. “Since several people who were admitted this year deferred their admission, they are going to take up room next year,” Garcia said as part of our Q&A. “That means we will accept fewer people next year, so next year will be more competitive, more selective.”

The WSJ also noted that the $80,000 in scholarship funds going to the four students who accepted the offer to defer will be taken from next year’s fellowship pool.

Read the complete Wall Street Journal article, “Bad Math: MIT Miscounts Its New B-School Students.