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Data & Trends

Underrepresented Populations Drawn to Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is a popular specialization in graduate management programs, and interest in self-employment is even greater among African Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanic Americans. Yet converting this interest into program enrollment may be challenging because financial reservations about attending business school are also more widespread among these populations, according to a new GMAC interactive report. US Underrepresented Populations in the Student Pipeline offers an insider look at the motivations, preferences, and choices of these three groups among registrants on mba.com.

African Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanic Americans younger than 24 are more interested than other US citizens in entrepreneurship, and that interest appears to be even more common among older African American prospects, the report shows.

Yet these populations express more concern about the financial aspects of business school. Some 56 percent of African Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanic Americans think school requires more money than they have available, compared with 50 percent of all other Americans. And 60 percent of all underrepresented minorities think school will require them to assume a large debt, compared with 56 percent of all other Americans.

“Enrolling these aspiring entrepreneurs into a program will require understanding how prospective student groups may be planning to finance their education,” said Michelle Sparkman-Renz, director of research communications. “For example, African Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanic Americans are much less likely to count on personal savings (30 percent vs. 40 percent for all other Americans) or parental support (17 percent vs. 27 percent for all other Americans) and more likely to count on grants, fellowships, and scholarships (67 percent vs. 51 percent) and loans (72 percent vs. 60 percent) to pay for school.”

The overall breakdown of how students plan to pay for business school is perhaps even more telling. Underrepresented populations think they’ll have to depend on some combination of grants, fellowships, scholarships, and loans to fund 62 percent of their business school tab, compared with 48 percent for all other US citizen groups.

“Addressing both career interests and likely reservations can help admissions professionals engage diverse applicants,” Sparkman Renz said.

US Underrepresented Populations in the Student Pipeline is a new interactive tool that lets recruiters select the population they want to explore and filter the data even further by gender and age group. Users can see differences not only in how prospective students intend to finance their education, but also mindset data they want to better understand, like intended career outcomes as well as interests and motivations of candidate subgroups. Schools with official GMAT score receiving codes can open the interactive report and explore other interactive research offerings at www.gmac.com/interactiveresearch (gmac.com login required). 

Read the mba.com blog entry about how entrepreneurs thrive after business school. 

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