In many newsrooms, clicks is a dirty word. Some journalists consider it to be a form of selling out, snapping up the low-hanging fruit and appealing to the lowest common denominator. ‘We’re not salespeople,’ they think. ‘We don’t measure our worth by hitting some outlandish quota.’
There’s some truth there, but clicks bring value beyond hooking advertisers. They are a reflection of which stories strike a nerve. Sometimes, this stems from flushing out an original topic or taking a unique slant. Most times, the most popular stories answer the questions that are on everyone’s mind.
When it comes to MBA programs, that means comparisons in one form or another. This may range from GMAT scores and pay packages to school finishes on various rankings. This year, Poets&Quants decided to look at the most popular stories a little different. To compile our 2018 list, we pitched the data dumps and ranking box scores (for the most part). What remained? Think student and faculty profiles and inside looks at the application cycle. In other words, the most popular stories often share two underlying themes: who gets into business school and how they were able to do it.
Want to answer these questions yourself? Here are a list of P&Q’s dozen most-read articles of 2018 (along with a link to read them).
The ‘Best & Brightest MBAs’ has emerged as P&Q’s signature story. Published each May, the piece highlights 100 second-years from over 60 business schools who set the tone and reflect the spirit of their schools. This year, P&Q received 240 nominations, with schools choosing their standouts based on criteria such as academic prowess, extracurricular achievements, innate potential, and inspirational life journeys. From there, P&Q selects the Best & Brightest (with another 100 receiving an MBAs To Watch designation).
In his story, Jeff Schmitt describes these students as “the leaders who rally; the mentors who champion; the visionaries who awaken; and the volunteers who shoulder the heaviest burdens.” That’s the beauty behind the Best & Brightest MBAs: The story features an in-depth profile for every student. Notably, readers can learn why they chose a particular school; how they got accepted into their programs; and what advice they’d give to MBAs who follow in their footsteps. It is truly a feel-good feature, with recipients paying tribute to the professors and classmates who supported them – and faculty, in turn, sharing what made these students so special.
In short, the Best & Brightest is more than just a look at the students who’ll set the bar for business in the years to come. It also acts as a look into the cultures that define individual MBA programs, offering a template for making the most of your time in business school.
Who’s hot and who’s not?
That’s a popular question in everything from pop culture to politics. Fact is, people naturally want to know who is trending and who possesses momentum. The same is true in business schools. Unfortunately, school branding and educational metrics are lagging indicators. That’s why P&Q created the “Business Schools To Watch,” an annual feature that focuses on what’s really happening on campus and why it matters to applicants, students, and alumni alike.
Last year, P&Q reviewed 10 MBA programs that were poised to make the proverbial ‘dent in the universe’ in 2018. They included standard-bearers like the Wharton School, Berkeley Haas, and Michigan Ross, along with upstarts like Ohio State Fisher, Rice Jones, and IE Business School. These were the programs that were opening buildings, rolling out revamped curriculum, enjoying swelling enrollments and pay growth, or beefing up resources or technology. In other words, they were raising the standard for what’s possible – and increasing expectations for what’s needed.
Ever wonder if you’ll fit in with a given business school? Wish you know the types of students who’ll ultimately be your classmates and mentors? Those questions rest at the heart of P&Q’s “Meet the MBA Class of 2020” series. Started in 2015, P&Q now profiles over 45 incoming classes at the world’s top MBA programs.
The series serves two purposes. First, it acts as an introduction to the cultural mores, advantages, traditions, and unique wrinkles that differentiate business schools. What’s more, the Class of 2020 series provides a look into the types of students who are ultimately accepted into these programs. Each story includes a dozen student profiles, with students chosen by school administers to reflect the program’s offerings and diversity. Here, first-years answer the three ‘how’ questions that bedevil many applicants: how did you know it was time to pursue an MBA; how did you calculate the degree’s return on investment; and how did you determine whether a school ‘fit’ with your personality and ambitions. Better yet, students list the schools they considered, providing readers with an inkling of which programs may align with their particular interests.
Each August, P&Q kicks off the series by looking at the class as a whole. After reviewing over 250 first-year profiles, one theme came across loud-and-clear. The Class of 2020 is packed with students with the enthusiasm to dream, the patience to experiment, and the courage to act.
“They are risk-takers who’ve started – and shuttered – businesses. They’ve launched departments and opened markets where no one had dared venture before. Some have even launched relief efforts in troubled areas like Puerto Rico. Overall, they reflect the spirit of their MBA programs, whether that be principle-driven, academically intensive, or team-oriented.”