MBA applications are really about soul-searching. The process demands discovery, piecing together the past, uncovering motivations, and identifying a path forward. It is time-consuming and exhausting, at times painful, too. When the acceptance letter arrives, it validates that the journey was successful — and the often uncomfortable self-reflection is over.
That is, unless you pick the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. Then, the cycle has just begun.
COACHING CULTURE FOCUSES ON THE ‘WHY’ BEFORE THE ‘HOW’
Think of Kelley as the ultimate coaching culture. It starts on day one with Me, Inc. — which can best be described as a personal branding bootcamp. Forget starting out with capital structures and competitive strategies. Over two weeks, first-years work in groups of 15-20 to formulate their personal narratives and peel away layers to get to the real value they bring to employers. It’s a process that requires trust … and, at times, a thick skin. In workshops, candid feedback comes fast and furious from all corners: classmates, second-years, and coaches. Of course, it’s all done with trademark Midwestern caring and constructiveness. More importantly, it serves a specific purpose. The course’s underlying DNIP model (Discover, Network, Interview, Perform) is designed to flush out students’ true interests and values, giving them a clear purpose before they enter the core, choose a concentration, and prep for recruiter interviews.
“Kelley’s focus on personal discovery during the Me, Inc. orientation program was a huge point of differentiation for me,” says Justin Keating, who joins the incoming class after stints in finance at Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Wyndham Worldwide. “Every other school focused solely on how they help students reach the post-MBA role they desire. This is obviously important, but Kelley was the only school that took the additional step of asking why.”
MOVE OVER KAFKA: FIRST-YEAR DREAMS OF TURNING INTO CLARK GRISWOLD
Me, Inc. can also be a lighthearted affair, as first-years face their faults with knowing smiles and sympathetic nods from classmates. That was especially true with the Class of 2018, who bring both sass and class to Bloomington.
Call them the LOL class, a seriously talented and diverse group of students who would be equally at home in a board room as an open mic night. Mark Goldstein, an Emory grad and Bloomberg alum, describes himself as “50% the Energizer Bunny, 30% Brawny Man, and 20% Tony the Tiger.” Matthew Miller, a former minor league pitcher and “sarcastic movie quoter,” believes he’ll one day turn into Clark Griswold, the protagonist of the National Lampoon’s Vacation movies. They’ll be joined by Pat Corbett, a college mascot aficionado who channels his inner Sir Thomas More in calling himself “A man of conviction, not convenience.” Let’s not forget Seann Kim, a West Point grad and Green Beret who personifies America’s standing as a melting pot. “I’m a first-generation American of half-Korean, half-Finnish descent. My wife is a beautiful redhead from the South. Together, we brought amazing blond children into this world.”
The class also boasts its share of thrill seekers. Look no further than Jackie Doppen. How is this for branding: “I’m an advanced certified scuba diver, I’ve ridden an ostrich, I’ve gone extreme caving, and I’ve flown in an aerobatic stunt plane.” Whoa! Alexander Ivanov, a Dean’s Fellow at Kelley, nearly became a news story while exploring caves in rural Russia. “I got so excited about a discovery of new passageways of the river that I missed a check-in time with friends who waited at the entrance to the cave and almost called for a rescue mission.” You’ll also find this same zest for adventure in Yazmin Nava, an undergrad philosophy major who took a four-month solo backpacking trip through Central and South America after serving in the Peace Corps.
No doubt, the 2018 Class would make killer cocktail guests. Leah Koch admits to being terrified of rollercoasters for years … even though her family owns a theme park. Paul Scholten’s calling card is being a professional opera singer. But that’s not his go-to story. “I once appeared completely naked in a scene on stage,” he says. Let’s not forget Tucson native Shayna Kuper, who grew up idolizing WNBA guard Diana Taurasi. Now, they’re part of each other’s lives — sort of. “Our dogs are friends,” Kuper quips.
CLASS INCLUDES A STUDENT WHO HELPED PLAN THE WNBA ALL-STAR GAME
Two things that can be said about this year’s class: They learn fast and they get results. Ivanov, for example, knew little about the oil and gas industry when he joined Schlumberger as a junior field engineer. Fast forward four years and he had risen to being a field service manager who managed a $50 million portfolio and collected the firm’s coveted Award for Innovation, Teamwork and Impact along the way. Goldstein followed a similar path, somehow landing a job with Bloomberg without knowing what a hedge fund was. Four years later? “I’m able to walk into the largest global hedge funds and have meaningful (and revenue-generating) conversations about their organizational structure and market data spend and usage,” he says.
For Kuper, the most rewarding accomplishment was bringing a global event to life. In 2014, she worked as the senior marketing manager for the Phoenix Mercury. With the WNBA All-Star game being held in Phoenix, she was responsible for marketing the event, which included the “marketing plan, ticket sales tactics, community outreach, season ticket holder inclusion, in-arena giveaways, downtown signage, promotions, and more.” During the process, she watched with pride as her efforts were successfully rolled out. “After the All-Star Game ended and the sold-out crowd cleared out of the arena,” she says, “all I could do was smile. Over the years I’ve had a lot of great memories on the Mercury court, but in that moment I had never felt more accomplished or eager for my next challenge.”
The Kelley community is also eager to see what this class can do. “We’re just getting to know the Class of 2018,” writes Ray Luther, executive director of the Kelley MBA program, “but we’re already impressed by what we’re seeing here as these students begin their MBA journey, both as individuals and as a unifying group. We always partner with our students to help them become the most polished and refined version of themselves; so when a class comes to us with such a wide and accomplished spectrum of experience as this year has, it’s an exciting prospect to imagine the “ultimate version” that will doubtless take shape, as they experience the coaching, support, and challenges of the Kelley MBA program!”
APPLICATIONS AND GMATS UP
The impressive accolades and big personalities are just the start with the Class of 2018. The class profile is pointed up as well. Applications surged from 1,471 in 2014-2015 to 1,532 in 2015-2016, which yielded a 185-member class and a 31% acceptance rate (up from 29% the previous year). Meanwhile, average GMAT scores climbed from 668 to 670, with median GMAT scores holding steady at 680. Overall, 37% of the class completed GMATs with a score of 700 or more, and overall, scores ranged from 550-760. Undergraduate GPAs came in at 3.34 on average, down a hair from 3.36 in the 2017, with 85% of the class boasting 3.0 or higher (including 37% with a 3.5 average or above). Among undergraduate majors, business came out on top at 38% of the class, followed by STEM (32%) and social sciences and humanities (27%).
Demographically, 30% of the class is comprised of women, up from 29%. The percentage of international students held steady at 36%. U.S. minorities, however, only account for 14% of the class, down four points from last year. Despite Kelley’s reputation as a “Midwest school,” just 27% of the class hails from the heartland, as sizable portions of the class feature students from the East (16%) and West (17%).