Rankings aren’t the only way to assess MBA programs. Sure, they measure the brainpower and appeal of schools. In the end, they just focus on the beginning and the end. In between, you have a year or two of classes, projects, clubs, and socials. As MBAs quickly learn, it is the people – and the personalities, backgrounds, and values they bring – who make business school come alive.
“Transformative” is a term commonly associated with business school. Here, the great epiphanies don’t come from dissecting a Netflix case or mastering a discounted cash flow model. Those moments originate from the people around you, the ones whose ideas spark your curiosity and whose passions alter their paths. In the best business schools, your peers make your possibilities feel bigger and your fears seem smaller. They may start out as confidantes and role models. Over time, these classmates emerge as your advocates and business partners.
This was the thought behind Poets&Quants’ class series, which examines the first year classes from over 40 leading full-time MBA programs. These stories are designed to be informational, to expose readers to the underlying philosophies, defining features, and operational wrinkles that differentiate business schools from each other. However, it is the people – the dozen students chosen by administrators to represent their schools – who make the stories. They reflect the level of talent and diversity of experiences found in these programs. Even more, they personify the spirit of their classes – and the evolving purposes and practices of business in general.
In short, these students serve as inspirations. They are a reminder that being accepted to Harvard or INSEAD isn’t so far out of reach. And they are a testament to the courage, creativity, and commitment that the world so sorely needs now. Want to know the students who may be your teaching assistant or champion in the coming year? Wondering what strategies they employed to get accepted into their schools? Here is a compilation of this year’s “Class of 2019” stories (with programs like Stanford, Toronto Rotman, and IMD on deck for the coming year).