Top Ten Business School Stories Of 2013

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It’s that time of the year again when everyone looks back on a year that is nearly over and ahead to a year about to come. For Poets&Quants, 2013 was a record-breaking year–in traffic, engagement, and in serving our audience of applicants to the world’s best business schools.

What were the most-read stories on Poets&Quants this past year?

The top ten business school stories of 2013 is an exceptional reading list of some of our most informative and entertaining stories of the year. They range from behind-the-scenes narratives that bring readers unusual insights into the operations of a top business school to our annual list that no business school wants to be on–the worst MBA placement records.

For our collection of the top ten business school stories of 2013, we eliminated our articles on rankings (The Top 100 MBA Programs in the U.S. & The Top 50 Non-U.S. MBA Programs) which tend to get the most views and instead concentrated on a portfolio of stories that are must-reads for anyone keenly interested in attending a top-flight MBA program. One thing you’ll quickly notice about the most popular stories: They truly serve our reader, quality applicants to the world’s best business schools. By and large, the stories that get the most attention represent service journalism that helps to inform readers to make better decisions for themselves.

1. How A Top School Screens MBA Applicants

— This is an extremely rare, if not unique, chance for applicants to literally sit at the table where an admissions committee decides who gets into a school and who gets rejected. We were invited to observe an actual meeting at which a school’s admission officers introduced candidates and then discussed their strengths and weakness in advance of rendering a decision on them. It was the first time a business school—in this case the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management—ever allowed a reporter to witness this highly secretive process.

2. The Presentation Only Elite MBA Applicants See

— The vast majority of applicants to business schools never get to be in a room where a leading MBA admissions consultant presents to an exclusive and prestigious audience, either business analysts at a McKinsey & Co. or Goldman Sachs. Candidates from these feeder companies have an unusual advantage in gaining admission to a world-class business school. They have access to exclusive presentations from insiders, including the admission directors of the very top schools, before they have to apply. We gained access to one of these presentations done by a former admissions official at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and shared it with our readers.

3. Toughest Questions Harvard Business School Asks Applicants

— In a typical year, the admissions staff at the Harvard Business School interviews about 2,000 people for the 900 or so available seats in a class. Those 30-minute Q&A sessions represent the last hurdle an applicant faces to gain admission to the world’s best MBA program. The questions in these sessions usually come fast and furious, with little comment from the person asking them. Beyond the standard queries–ranging from “Walk me through your resume” to “Why do you want an MBA?”–are often some very unpredictable and surprising queries that can unhinge the coolest and smartest candidate. We were able to put together a list of the toughest such questions from Harvard MBA students who obviously passed the test.

4. Do You Have What It Takes To Get Into A Top MBA Program

— The most common question MBA-wannabes ask is this one: “What are my chances of getting into a top-ranked business school?” After all, many of the best applicants only want to attend a school with a big brand and they want to know whether they should invest the time and energy to do so. This guide to all 63 of our published MBA handicapping columns which debuted in June of 2011. It is indispensable reading for anyone who is thinking about going to business school. It’s a collection of the more than 50 columns in which real applicants share their profiles and stats along with the witty, irreverent and smart assessment of their chances at target schools by Sandy Kreisberg, founder of and a leading MBA admissions consultant.

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