AN ‘INVESTED’ CLASS
What does the Class of 2021 think stands out about their classmates after two months together? Marcio Perino was stunned by how diverse his classmates are, including people who have “worked alongside Prime Ministers in foreign countries, veterans and even a rocket scientist!” Gloria Escobar rattles off terms like “intelligent, ambitious, disciplined, and accomplished” to describe her peers before settling on “rock stars.” For Marcia Barnett, the big difference has been the teamwork she has witnessed thus far.
“It seems as if we have already realized that we will only succeed if we ALL succeed. We have been willing to speak up in class when we don’t understand a topic and clarify ideas to others when we do. Just like any team, we get into debates—but always respectfully and with the intent to explore the concepts more deeply.”
In other words, Jones MBAs care – and that’s why “invested” is the right word for Kathleen Wu, a Yale-trained engineer. “By that, I mean invested in the classes, the clubs, and especially the community,” she explains. “Perhaps because it’s such a small class (100-110 students every year), I’ve seen a willingness of my MBA classmates to take on real responsibility and make a genuine commitment to improving the institutions at Rice Business. I’ve heard one second-year student say that the goal of each class is to make the Rice Business experience even better for the class following them. That dedication rings true to me from everything I’ve seen so far.”
BIG JUMP IN WOMEN AND STEM MAJORS
By all measures, Rice Jones produced a year that its peer schools would envy. That starts with applications, which climbed from 587 to 625 during the 2018-2019 cycle. This 6.5% uptick was rare among top business schools, but slightly misleading with the school attracting 813 applications in the 2016-2017 cycle. The Class of 2021 is also smaller, falling from 120 to 107 students against the previous class. Not surprisingly, it was harder to get into Jones this year, as the acceptance rate slipped from 39% to 37%.
Academically, the incoming class produced higher GMAT scores. The average GMAT rose from 706 to 710. More striking, the median GMAT jumped from 690 to 710, meaning the class is stronger top-to-bottom. By the same token, average undergraduate GPA increased from 3.31 to 3.41, though the mean dipped from 3.48 to 3.40. Overall, GMAT scores ranged from 700-730 this year at Jones, though this number only accounts for the 50% range.
The Class of 2021 also represents a record number of women – 38% – a 7% improvement over the previous year. The class was also more diverse in terms of underrepresented minorities and international students. The former grew from 15% to 19%, with the latter rising from 23% to 29% (though the class, as a whole, hails from three fewer countries).
Overall, Rice Jones remains STEM-oriented, at least in terms of academic backgrounds. Last year, the percentage of STEM majors fell from 62% to 37%. This year, that number has popped back up to 59%. In response, the percentage of business and economics majors fell five points to 19%, with liberal arts majors making up the remaining 22% of the class.
While Rice Jones is neither a Texas nor an energy school, it does attract its share of students from the area’s petroleum industry. 23% of the class previously worked in energy. To put that number in context, the next two blocs – healthcare (11%) and financial services (10%) – don’t hit that mark combined. These three industries are also the only industries to hit double digits in the 2021 Class, with government (8%), technology (6%), and manufacturing (6%) representing discernable segments of the class. The big difference between Rice Jones and other MBA programs? Consultants compose just 3% of the class.
A Q&A WITH DEAN PETER RODRIGUEZ
The school has elevated its ambitions since the arrival of Dean Peter Rodriguez from Darden in 2016. Since then, the program has introduced a required Global Field Experience as well as its MBA@Rice online MBA program. Now, Dean Rodriguez has plenty of new goodies in the works for students. This fall, P&Q submitted several questions to Dean Rodriguez to learn more about what current students can expect, along with underrated parts of the program that students sometimes overlook. Here are his thoughts…
1) What are the most exciting new developments in your program?
“What excites me is the full curriculum review underway with our faculty. It’s the first time in a long time that we’ve looked at potentially overhauling our curriculum to be future-focused and to deliver the highest ROI to our students while staying true to our academic principles.
Along with that come six new tenured and tenure-track faculty members: Karthik Balakrishnan – Associate Professor of Accounting from London Business School; Hailey Ballew – Assistant Professor of Accounting; Bruce Carlin – Professor of Finance from UCLA; Arun Gopalakrishnan – Assistant Professor of Marketing from Washington University; Stephanie Johnson – Assistant Professor of Finance; Marlon Mooijman – Assistant Professor of Management (OB); and Kate Odziemkowska – Assistant Professor of Strategic Management.
Another new development is that we’re opening three new spaces in our building to allow for deeper engagement.
The first is a new meeting and office space for Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship. It will now be housed on the first floor and populated with venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and creatives of all types. We’re anticipating exciting collaborations to come from the easier access and modern workspace.
The second is a twin site for Lilie Lab, our successful idea lab for innovation and entrepreneurship, which is currently housed across campus. By dedicating another home on the second floor of McNair Hall, the business school expands the reach for creative thought between undergrads and graduate students in business, engineering, and the sciences.
Finally, a coffee house will open in November. We’re thrilled to have a welcoming, neutral space for all Rice students, staff, faculty, alumni and the community at large to meet and make connections with each other and the business school.
The final new development that I’m excited about is our operations and technology group made up of professors who we know are critical in training our students in jobs for the future and creating deeper connections with the burgeoning tech community in Houston.
2) What is the most underrated part of your program that you wish prospective students knew more about?
“I think the most underrated part of our program is the quality of student career outcomes we’re able to produce. People know a lot about our fantastic educational experience, but not as much about our career outcomes. We place students in the best companies in the world, both in Houston and across the country. I’m proud of that.”
3) What percentage of your full-time MBA students receive financial aid support? Why is aid such an integral part of the program?
“Intensive financial aid has been a hallmark of Rice University as a whole and the Jones School in particular. About 85% of our full-time students receive some form of aid. On average, 78% receive scholarship or grants. Financial aid and scholarships are critical at Rice Business because one of our principle values is that talent deserves opportunity.”
Go to Page 3 for a dozen in-depth profiles of the Class of 2021.