CLASS INCLUDES 49% WOMEN
From endurance, students naturally gain self-assurance. For Kelley, that poise under pressure is the defining quality of the 2021 class. “I am often in awe of the quiet confidence that radiates from my classmates,” she admits, “and often impressed by their ability to leave egos at the door despite the amazing feats they accomplished prior to business school. As a believer in the power of diversity of thought creating rich, eye-opening discussions, I am certain that the high-caliber discussions we have in and out of the classroom are amplified by the fact that we are inherently self-assured. This quiet confidence allows our discussions to stem from a place of respect and a desire to learn about and from one another.”
This confidence is further enriched by the class’ diversity. This year, 43% of the class hails from 17 countries. That’s a huge change over the previous year, where the number was 31%. In other words, the student body is becoming as increasingly global as the curriculum. At the same time, 23% of the class is composed of underrepresented American minorities, the third year in a row that this percentage has increased. However, the big news involves the percentage of women. The Class of 2021 boasts a 51%-to-49% male-to-female ratio. This 49% rate represents a high watermark for women at Olin, with the two previous classes coming in at 42% and 39% respectively. It also ranks among the best percentages in the top-tier of MBA programs.
In other words, says Raymond Wagner, the class is diverse across all dimensions – and the impact of these differing backgrounds has been felt immediately. “From the American who taught English in China to the financial advisor from Ghana, I am so impressed with the different perspectives my classmates bring to the classroom. It is truly exciting to be in a cohort where we can learn so much from each other, challenge each other, and make each other better business leaders going forward.”
This good news, however, has been offset by the number of applications being cut in half during the 2018-2019 cycle. That said, this number reflects a downturn in interest in full-time MBA programs as a whole. Overall, the Class of 2021 includes 98 students, down from the 135 MBAs who comprised the previous year’s class. Academically, the class’ 695 average and 710 median GMAT scores are each an improvement over the past two years. The average undergraduate GPA (3.48) also remained consistent with the two previous classes. Academically, the class is evenly divided at 34% between Business and Economics majors and Natural and Social Sciences majors. This year, the percentage of first-years holding engineering-related degree also jumped from 21% to 29%. By the same token, the percentage of humanities majors was sliced in half to 3%.
FOUR QUESTIONS WITH DEAN MARK P. TAYLOR
The Global Immersion program is the centerpiece of Dean Taylor’s larger ambition: becoming “the most international program in the world.” What else can future MBAs expect at Olin? Here are Dean Taylor’s responses to questions submitted to him by Poets&Quants this summer.
A) What are the most exciting new developments at your program?
“I’m most excited about WashU Olin taking the entire cohort of first-year MBA students on a ‘round-the-globe immersion in business. By the time you read this, our students will have spent a week studying business and policy in Washington, DC, with our exclusive partner, the Brookings Institution. From there, our schedule had nearly 100 students traveling to Barcelona for two weeks, then on to China for 17 days before returning to St. Louis. This is the first WashU Olin cohort to participate in our fully rebooted full-time MBA. This deep global immersion in international business issues, cultures, and practices sets an important foundation for business today.
Additionally, we’ve added greater flexibility to our full-time MBA, offering students an accelerated program they can complete in 14 months, or an option to pair a STEM-designated specialized master’s degree with their MBA.
We’re leaning into the needs of today’s business students, differentiating WashU Olin by leveraging our unique assets, preparing them to be globally-minded and globally-mobile and providing the tools to confront the challenge and create change.”
B) What is the most underrated part of your program that you wish prospective students knew more about?
“Our students have access to amazing hands-on learning opportunities around our community and around the world thanks to the relationships we’ve built through our faculty, our career center and our Center for Experiential Learning. In the month of March alone, we had more than 300 students engaged in experiential learning projects on six continents in 21 countries. Experiential and global learning are among the four priorities in WashU Olin’s strategy. Add to that a focus on entrepreneurship and innovation; many of those students were working on projects with innovators and startup founders to help them take their work to a new level.
C) What advantages do small, intimate MBA programs like Olin offer compared to larger programs?
“The advantages of a program like ours are manifold. The global immersion is one important example: the size of our cohort is an advantage inasmuch as larger programs could not take their entire cohort around the world as we are doing right now. The cohort really bonds as everyone gets to know one another and works together—especially as they begin the program by being thrown into the deep end on the global immersion where, at some point, every student must adjust to a foreign culture. Olin students also frequently speak about the access and close support they receive from faculty and staff. Everyone has a name and a story at Olin, and we live up to our collaboratively competitive reputation for being data-based and values-driven.”
D) Last year, Olin restructured its MBA program, which included starting the first-year MBA program with a 6-week international immersion? What does that involve? What did first-years tell you about the experience they had?
“As I mentioned, our first-years have only just begun to embark on their 38-day ‘round-the-world immersion and feedback so far is positive. We piloted the program over spring break in March 2019 with our second-years (and a handful of first-years) in order to test the courses, kick the tires and iron out logistical issues. Feedback from those students was positive. We earned praise for attempting something so bold—and, in the attempt, succeeding.”