Business schools boom in the bust

July 7, 2008, 10:37 PM UTC

As we learn that the U.S. has lost 438,000 jobs since January, we’re also hearing about a winner in the downturn: business schools. Linda Livingstone, dean of Pepperdine’s Graziadio School of Business and Management, tells me that she’s seen a 29% increase in applications for her school’s full-time MBA program this year.

The draw is more than the Malibu surf. (Pepperdine’s campus, in the Malibu hills, overlooks the Pacific.) Interest in MBA programs typically goes up during recessions. The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) reports that applications to MBA programs nationwide are rising (applications for full-time MBA programs were up 36% this year from last year) as applicants look to enhance their resumes or pursue career changes—at least until companies start hiring again.

I also checked in with Wendy Kopp, the founder of Teach for America, whom I profiled last year. Kopp says that applications to TFA have increased 36% this year. If anything, the downturn is showing today’s young talent that the best route to success may be the patient one.

P.S. Last week, I wrote about Starbucks hitting the wall on growth. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart is reviving. It’s the best-performing stock in the Dow 30 in the past year. So who else is doing well these days? Dollar Tree , the deep-discount retailer, is thriving on penny-pinchers; the shares have risen 43.9% this year.