Traditionally, we associate spring with fresh starts. As temperatures climb and the landscape turns green, we behold a world renewed with possibilities. For MBAs, this transformation truly begins in the fall. Bursting with ideas and thirsting to be more, a new class of young professionals stream onto campus as students again, embarking on life-defining journeys. In the coming months, they will step outside their comfort zones. At first, they will feel overwhelmed, stumble, and wonder if they belong. Like MBAs before them, they will persevere and inevitably shine.
And the Class of 2017 will be no different. This month, first-years begin their orientations. A year ago, most were consumed with GMAT prep, self-reflection, interviews, and tying up loose ends. Now, they are looking to seize the moment and make their mark.
“I want to leave [the Berkeley-Haas community] in a better position than when I arrived,” writes Jay Obaze, a transplanted New Yorker who left a secure gig at American Express to immerse himself in Silicon Valley’s startup culture. And Georgetown’s Tahira Taylor, who volunteered with the Peace Corps before moving into the sharp-elbowed world of advertising, was more blunt about her aspirations. “I want all of my classmates to know who I am.”
SCHOOLS BECOMING MORE FEMININE AND INTERNATIONAL
Business schools pride themselves on assembling classes with a wide array of backgrounds, and this year’s group of MBA students is among the diverse ever. A review of preliminary class profiles for 12 Top 20 American business schools, including Harvard, Wharton, Booth, Kellogg, and Columbia, shows one thing for certain: Business students are increasingly female and international.
Roughly 39.1% of the incoming students at these top dozen schools are now women, with several schools reporting record levels of female enrollment. For example, Haas’ female population has risen from 29% to 41% in the last two years alone (and five full percentage points at both Booth and Kellogg in the last year). In fact, five Top 10 MBA programs – Harvard, Wharton, Booth, Haas, and Kellogg – all report that 40% or more of their 2017 class is female (with figures from Stanford, MIT, Dartmouth, and Duke not yet released).
Business schools also are drawing different populations. Among schools reporting early data, 36.1% of their 2017 class hail from overseas. American minority populations are also growing, accounting for 27.3% of students in the schools’ sample, with Harvard and Kellogg showing a increase of three percentage points over the Class of 2016.
The top MBA programs also are enrolling a higher caliber student. In 2002, entrants from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business averaged a 687 GMAT. Today, that number has skyrocketed to 726. Ten years ago, incoming Kellogg MBAs averaged 700 GMATs. Today, that number has risen to 724 (and schools such as New York University and the University of Texas have experienced similar growth).