Graduate Management News

The MBA Class of 2016: Insights from Undergraduate Admissions on Minority Millennials

Moderator Angela P. Noble-Grange of Cornell University’s S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management, along with panelists Anthony Canchola-Flores of The Canchola Group, (formerly of Brown University Admissions), Allison R. Rouse of the Kipp Foundation, and Bridget Wilson (Acoma Pueblo) of U.C. Berkeley, shared their first-hand experience recruiting and working with Millennials at the undergraduate level and earlier. They shed some light into how MBA programs can better prepare and attract Millennials of color in the coming years.

First, the statistics: the group labeled Millennials (born roughly 1980 to 2000) is large—approximately 80 million in the United States alone, without accounting for immigration. Howe and Strauss, who first coined the phrase, defined Millennials as special, confident, team-oriented, sheltered, pressured, achieving, and conventional.

Millennials are also expected to be the most educated and most diverse generation to date. In fact, three out of four high school seniors are planning to pursue graduate degrees, and the percentage of people of color under the age of 18 has increased by 50% over recent years. Overall, the panelists agree that Millennials of color, namely Hispanic, African American, and Native American Millennials, do seem to fit the mold as a whole, but there are some nuances.

For instance, characteristics often associated with Millennials, such as highly involved “helicopter parents” and an overall expectation of a safety net and support system, are consistent with what the panelists have witnessed. To account for these attributes, undergraduate programs, such as those at U.C. Berkeley, have incorporated a parents program and more emphasis is being placed on matching advisors and mentors with students to suit individual needs.

One notable difference is the disproportionate number of women and minorities among Millennials who express a desire to change the world. Millennials motivated by these philanthropic aspirations, such as those entering the Teach for America® program, which Rouse predicts will be the biggest recruiter of college graduates in the next five years, may need more convincing that a graduate management degree would allow them to do something “cool” and give back in a unique and meaningful way.

But beware, the group is accustomed to over-marketing and will look through smoke and mirrors for real substance.

The challenge for graduate business schools, said Canchola-Flores, will be in what you offer them—mixed disciplines for example—and whom you will offer as their mentors. In addition, graduate programs might need to consider revising recruitment efforts to attract potential applicants earlier in the pipeline, advised Rouse. Building trust and increasing outreach by going into the communities, particularly among tribal governments for Native Americans, and working as a collective group with GMAC® and the Diversity Pipeline Alliance® to cross ethnic boundaries and get ahead of the curve might also make recruitment more successful.


© 2006 Graduate Management Admission Council® (GMAC®). All rights reserved.
GMAC® and Graduate Management Admission Council® are registered trademarks of the Graduate Management Admission Council® (GMAC®). Cornell University® is a registered trademark of Cornell University®. Diversity Pipeline Alliance® is a registered trademark of the Diversity Pipeline Alliance®. Teach for America® is a registered trademark of Teach for America, Inc.
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