SCHOOLS HIGHLY OPTIMISTIC OVER THE CLASS OF 2017
So who is the Class of 2017 beyond the numbers? Recently, Poets&Quants reached out to nearly 40 leading MBA programs to learn more about their incoming classes. Our goal was to go beyond the punchy tags and spotless copy by introducing readers to students they would encounter at various programs. From INSEAD to Rice University’s Jones School, these first years, chosen by administrators, personify the spirit and values of their institutions. They upend misconceptions and stereotypes. Their compelling narratives serve as inspiration for applicants who wonder if adcoms would ever choose “someone like me.” And they provide an inside look at the kinds of student leaders, peers, and mentors who’ll be guiding next year’s first years.
Over the next two months, Poets&Quants will be running a series, spotlighting 6-12 students each from 35 full-time MBA programs. And one truth is unmistakable: The Class of 2017 will be among the most diverse and accomplished student bodies yet.
“This is one of the most dynamic classes we have seen,” says Amanda Carlson, assistant dean of admissions at Columbia Business School. “[It] includes many students with strong entrepreneurial interests, from exceptionally eclectic backgrounds. We feel this class will produce dynamic leaders who will create incredible growth and opportunity in the global marketplace.”
Soojin Kwon, director of admissions at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, seconds Carlson’s sentiments. “This was the most competitive applicant pool we’ve had in more than a decade – both in terms of volume and quality of applications,” says Kwon. “At 708, this class has the highest GMAT average for an incoming Ross class. About 35% come from outside the U.S. More than the strength of the class profile, though, we’re excited about the diversity of experiences our students bring with them – from an anesthesiologist to a former White House aide to a Broadway violinist to our largest cohort of veterans and teachers to date.”
THIS ISN’T YOUR FATHER’S BUSINESS SCHOOL
While many incoming first years matriculated at undergraduate power schools, you’ll also find top-tier programs welcoming graduates from Western Washington University, Pomona College, and Middlebury College. Some are arriving with traditional academic credentials in economics, finance, international relations, and engineering. However, you’ll also find students who majored in cinema studies, neuroscience, women’s studies, and sports administration. As always, the Class of 2017 will include its share of lawyers, physicians, military officers, and athletes looking to switch careers or groom themselves for leadership roles.
But educational experience is only one area where MBA programs are becoming increasingly diverse. Top American schools are welcoming first years from a larger segment of nations than ever. At the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, you could sit between a Goldman Sachs-trained trader from Ethiopia and an Air Force division commander from Torrington, Wyoming. At other American programs, your cohort could include the best-and-brightest from Nigeria, Myanmar, Zambia, South Korea, Chile, Tajikistan, Singapore, and the Republic of Georgia (as well as Shanghai and Bangalore).
Indeed, first-years are being tapped from traditional feeders like JPMorgan Chase, Deloitte, and PwC. However, many defy expectations (or even categorization). This fall, the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business will welcome Jean-Marc Chanoine, a Georgetown JD from Miami who has spent the past five years in the United States Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG). Wharton’s Michael Hinckley, who was previously a policy advisor at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, has already authored a book called Microfinance: The Way of Grassroots Finance.
Samantha Yang, a mechanical engineer by trade, co-founded a company where she helped develop a series of iPhone educational games. Columbia Business School’s Mackenzie Green won the Miss District of Columbia USA in 2010. And Jonathan Goldstein, a renaissance man, joined Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management after founding a test prep service and performing with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Kansas City Symphony, and St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.
“THE PEOPLE” ARE OFTEN A SCHOOL’S BIGGEST ADVANTAGE
So what drew the Class of 2017 to particular schools? Some followed the real estate maxim of Location! Location! Location!” – setting up shop in schools based near specific industries or employer clusters. “The location of NYU will give me significant exposure to top companies domestically and internationally,” writes Stern’s Ashley Toscano, a Texas native looking to make a career change. “As someone who has a fascination with learning about other cultures, New York was the perfect place for this next chapter.”