- Either commit to extremely small entering classes, or vary class offers of admission the same way your customers vary hiring: With demand. If you can’t hit your numbers—i.e., placement—you shouldn’t be in business teaching the world how to do it at all, let alone at a premium.
- Materially link compensation packages of the Dean, faculty and career office director to placement. MBA programs’ whole proposition is premium valuation, and they should thoughtfully apply it to themselves.
- Be ethical. If 30% of last year’s class is still job hunting a year out, don’t dump another 500 graduates in the queue out of short-term financial expediency and commoditize your brand, then hold first year lectures on not investing in buggy whips: Oversupply is a buggy whip. Have a good faith partnership: Cut admissions and take the hit. This will require you to work to know seriously what demand is and even help create it (See 1). It will also stimulate larger gifting from brand loyal partner graduates.
- In exchange for tuition up front, deliver real ROI up front like a guaranteed premium interview slot, material high-level introduction, or paid internship. (This will take planning. See 1). Don’t extend an offer if you can’t.
- Be transparent. Quote placement metrics with a certainty not so different from that with which you quote tuition, fees or salaries for recruited faculty. It’s your stock quote—qualitatively and quantitatively. Talk in real placement numbers and put them out front on all your stuff. If you’re getting demand right and recruiting right, there shouldn’t be ugly to hide.
- Create an investment culture. Be a good academic citizen and make money on graduates you helped create, not enrollees you simply admitted, by being a material part of graduates’ future success. Care not what they can pay now. Care what they can gift later.
- Include on the admissions committee at least 1 successful graduate entrepreneur with an eye for nontraditional talent. Not because nontraditional applicants need you, but because they could use you, and you need them. Diversify cultural DNA with a critical mass of creatives and innovators who know they have a place in your academy.
Shorter: B-schools do as you say, and not as you do.
While preparing this post I learned of the following by a B-school. I was surprised at the circled part for its candor and deviance from how admissions directors talk at an outreach level. Worst case, they’re filling seats. Best case, it’s a shift.