Businessweek reports GMAC’s decision to permit limited fee waivers for the GMAT. For years the GMAT exam and business school application process in the U.S. have been more expensive—substantially more—than the standardized admissions tests and application processes for either medical or law school. I always viewed this as doubly classist and discriminatory, as business schools in America are the least heterogeneous of these three key professional programs and yet represent routes to employment and opportunity with the greatest potential for wealth amassment. It’s a decidedly classist barrier to entry.
By comparison, law and medical schools are significantly more statistically diverse, and both the LSAT (law school admissions test) and MCAT (medical college admissions test) have fees that can be waived by respective administrators in the LSAC and the AAMC for financially challenged students. To be sure, the showing of such economic hardship by the applicant is itself a formidable barrier—akin to the showing of Pell Grant qualification post President Reagan’s administration when students effectively needed 12 siblings, a blind single parent and a recent house fire to establish financial need, circumstances that were ironically incompatible with a person even looking to attend college to begin with, and more compatible with one simply aiming to survive. And who more than this person needs the wealth amassment opportunity.
No matter, GMAC’s new limited fee waiver program is a long overdue baby step toward lowering the financial barrier to entry for prospective B-school applicants, it’s apparent competitive motivation with the sometimes accepted substitute ETS entrance exam of the GRE notwithstanding.