Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business made an interesting move over the weekend, announcing a new application fee reduction program for applicants who schedule a campus visit or register to attend a local information session. Applicants who do one or the other before they submit their applications will only pay $50, rather than $200, to submit their applications.
Why would Fuqua make such a move? The announcement gave a nod to the rough economy, but here’s the real meat of the announcement:
We feel strongly that visiting with Duke admissions officers, students, and alumni in person is incredibly helpful in understanding the Team Fuqua culture.
So, basically, Duke is putting its money where its mouth is, and is saying, “We’re so convinced that you’ll love it when you visit that we really want you to come visit or at least meet with a Fuqua admissions representative.” Of course, a visitor may also decide that Fuqua is in fact NOT the place for him, which isn’t necessarily a terrible thing — better for the applicant to realize that sooner rather than later.
Although there’s a lot that we like about Fuqua, its place in the business school rankings means that every year its draws applications from some people who really have their eyes set on any ranked school, and they apply to Fuqua although they’re really hoping that they get into a higher-ranked program. Fuqua’s move not only encourages applicants to get to know the school better (which is always a good thing), but also sends a subtle message of, “If you’re not interested enough to come visit or meet with us, then we’re raising the bar a little more for you.”
It’s an interesting strategy… If you can’t be bothered to visit the school or meet with Fuqua representatives when they visit your town, then can you credibly claim that Duke is where you want to be? If you still want to apply, then fine, but know that you’ll be going up against lots of applicants who have visited Fuqua or met with someone from the school.
We’ve read some speculation that Fuqua made this move to “slash prices” and attract more applicants, but we suspect that this is really more of a quality play than a quantity one. We don’t know if it will work, but it sure will be interesting to see.