2017 P&Q Editors’ Picks Of Our Favorites

Students at the University of Virginia retake the hallowed Lawn on Wednesday night at a candlelight vigil. Courtesy photo

Tragedy Strikes Charlottesville and How Darden Is Putting Charlottesville’s Protests Behind It

Two weeks before Harvey impacted Houston, white supremacists and neo-Nazis besieged the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, which is home to the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. Normally a sleep college city with less than 50,000 permanent residents, the streets were ignited with mainly white men marching with lit torches, spewing hate. Meanwhile, about 20 incoming MBAs — all students of color — gathered at university housing for what was supposed to be a simple meet and great and get-together.

“These students were terrorized, fearful and deeply distraught,” Martin Davidson, a veteran leadership professor and the school’s chief diversity officer told us last August. “This was their very first weekend in Charlottesville. Now they were questioning coming here in the first place. They were full out scared to death.”

It was truly a weekend of terror. On the evening of Friday, August 11, the torchlit mob marched onto the UVA campus. The next Saturday, things got worse. Violent protests broke out at Emancipation Park. And later in the day James Alex Fields Jr. allegedly drove his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of protesters, injuring many and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

“Often times, I think our white colleagues may have not clearly understood the gravity of the situation and still don’t appreciate the impact on people of color,” Davidson told us at the time. “Some of that has to do with the natural divides we have about race and culture. But the symbolic impact of this was profound. Young white men marching through the streets with torches equates to fear and death for black people.”

Months after our coverage of the protests and the impact on Darden, we followed up with Darden and Dean Scott Beardsley on his plan to not only tend to the fears and pain from current students, but continue to make sure Darden is portrayed as a school in a community of progressive values where MBA students from anywhere can come and study and grow safely.

Students at Stanford GSB 2017 commencement. Learn more about Stanford GSB average GMAT

A student looks up at the crowd during Stanford GSB’s Class of 2017 commencement. Photo by Nathan Allen

The GMAT Arms Race

When is enough going to be enough? Year-after-year, as schools continue to release incoming class profiles, GMAT scores continue to rocket. This year the first to disclose scores — albeit perhaps unintentionally — was Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. During the Poets&Quants CentreCourt MBA Festival in San Francisco on June 24th, Kristen Moss, then-newly named Stanford GSB assistant dean and director of MBA admissions and financial aid, disclosed a whopping incoming average score of 740. The score, which is out of a perfect 800 score was an 11-point increase over five years at the GSB and a three-point increase from the previous year’s incoming class.

“Our score this year will be hovering in the class profile at 740 and that is hard for me honestly because I don’t want to send a message that you have to have a 740 in order to apply,” Moss said. “But let’s face it. we are taking 5% (of applicants). So if you have time to practice for this test and you really want to go to Stanford and think you are one of those people who have made an impact in their community and is a leader, go take the test again because it will help. It’s one data point, (but) it is important.”

Only about 3% of GMAT test takes score a 740 or higher. Numerous other schools, including Kellogg and Wharton, also reported record GMAT average scores this year. Out of this year’s incoming class, eight schools reported GMAT averages of 720 or higher. Some 14 schools reported GMAT scores in the 91st percentile or higher this fall. As GMAT scores continue to sky rocket, the question now becomes when will GMAT scores hit a peak?

 

Christopher Aleman, the associate director of MBA admissions at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management meets with participants. Photo by Nathan Allen

When MBA Apps Hit Their Peak

Apply like it’s 2002? Despite major five-year application growth for numerous top MBA programs, 2004 remains the peak of MBA applications for many schools. This begs the question, have MBA applications hit a peak for the foreseeable future? We explored the topic this year. While schools like Yale’s School of Management, MIT Sloan, Stanford GSB, Duke Fuqua, Rice Jones, and a few others saw their highest application numbers for the incoming fall class of 2017, many more schools have not seen the same numbers that they saw for the fall of 2002.

Two major things happened in 2001 that led to 2002 being such a massive year. The Internet bubble burst and terrorists attacked the United States on September 11, 2001 that led to some extreme market fluctuations. When the economy hits a downturn, MBA applications go up. The Great Recession set off another round of increased MBA applicants, but so far, has not had the same effect of what took place in 2001.

We, of course, took an in-depth look into the data and what it all means moving forward for MBA applicants.

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