Yesterday, we shared the results of our COVID-19 MBA Impact Survey, which asked Fall 2020 MBA admits how the novel coronavirus outbreak is influencing their decision-making about matriculating, and how much they anticipated COVID-19 to impact the educational experience and career outcomes for MBA students starting this fall.
Today, we’re sharing some additional analysis to help our readers better understand the relationships among these three variables as they interpret the survey findings and what they mean for incoming students and school stakeholders.
A Quick Note About Correlation
Correlation is simply the relationship between two variables. For our purposes, the correlation coefficients we’ll be sharing describe how closely participants’ ratings on one survey item track with their responses on another.
Correlations can be positive (high ratings on one variable are associated with high ratings on the other) or negative (high ratings on one variable are associated with low ratings on the other). The strongest possible correlations are -1 (direct negative relationship between variables) and 1 (direct positive relationship between variables). A correlation coefficient of 0 means that there is no association between participants’ ratings on two variables – there is essentially no relationship.
On to the Analyses
Through the rest of this post, we’ll be referring to each of the variables by the following short-hand:
- Influence on Enrollment – ratings of how influential COVID-19 and related social distancing measures are in participant’s decision-making about whether to enroll in an MBA program this fall, on a 0 to 100 scale
- Impact on Education – ratings of how much participants expect COVID-19 and related social distancing measures to impact the education experience for MBA students matriculating in Fall 2020, on a 0 to 100 scale
- Impact on Career Outcomes – ratings of how much participants expect COVID-19 and related social distancing measures to impact the post-MBA career outcomes for MBA students matriculating in Fall 2020, on a 0 to 100 scale
Let’s start with the relationship between Influence on Enrollment and Impact on Education. Participants’ ratings on these two items are reflected in the scatterplot to the right. The dotted line (called the regression line) is a reflection of the correlation, and reflects the “best fit” to define relationship between the two variables. A flat horizontal line would indicate a 0 correlation (no relatioxnship), while a 45 degree line would indicate a correlation of 1 (direct linear relationship between variables).
There is a mild (approaching moderate) positive correlation between Influence on Enrollment and Impact on Education (r(563) = .41, p < .001). Participants’ Impact on Education ratings predict about 17% of the variability in Influence on Enrollment ratings – meaning that it’s a factor, but far from the full picture.
Anticipated Impact on Career Outcomes appears to be even less of a factor in participants’ COVID-19-related matriculation decision-making. Ratings on these two variables are reflected in the plot to the left.
There is a weak positive relationship between respondents’ Influence on Enrollment and Impact on Career Outcomes ratings (r(563) = .31, p < .001). Participants expectations about career outcomes account for only about 9% of the variability in Influence on Enrollment ratings.
This suggests that post-MBA employment is not necessarily a major factor for candidates who are feeling reluctant to matriculate this fall. This finding would also be consistent with our suggestion in our previous results post that candidates might have been thinking of potential positive as well as negative career impacts when they responded to this survey item.
Finally, we looked into the relationship between Impact on Education and Impact on Career Outcomes ratings. Participants’ ratings on these two items are plotted to the right.
Here, we do see a moderately strong positive correlation (r(563) = .57, p < .001). While you can see that responses varied quite widely (with some respondents reporting no expected career impact but extreme anticipated educational impact), in general, respondents who expected a high impact on their educational experience tended to expect a significant impact on career outcomes as well.
Participants’ expectations about how COVID-19 will impact MBA students’ educational experiences are more closely related to their decision-making about whether to matriculate than anticipated career impacts – but neither of these factors emerged as the driving factor in our participants’ responses to the Influence on Enrollment item.
It’s clear that there are additional factors influencing candidates’ decision-making about starting an MBA program this year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. These factors may also be highly individualized, ranging from MBA-related considerations not covered in our survey (e.g. impact on networking opportunities, student club participation, friendships with classmates), as well as elements outside of the purview of business schools (e.g. job prospects in a new city for a student’s partner during a possible recession, reluctance to move away from family or other support systems amid a health crisis, etc.).
Of course, it’s still a good idea for school stakeholders to take steps to address prospective students’ concerns about the classroom experience and recruiting for the class matriculating this fall. We’ll be sharing some additional takeaways and recommendations in the coming days, so stay tuned! In the meantime, we’ve compiled COVID-19-related admissions and enrollment process updates in one easy-to-read table for your reference and planning purposes.