Sounds mistaken, right? We’re conditioned to choose big, what’s broad and dominant. Yet, there is a certain power in small. Small is fierce and focused – a space where you can move swiftly and decisively. Small is a microprocessor, vast and intricate, or the diamond, luminous and enduring. Small is the place where people know you –and where you can make an impact.
Sometimes, you can shift back-and-forth between big and small – and reap the benefits of both. Ohio State University is one such place. The university itself boasts 500,000 Buckeye alumni, with the
Fisher College of Business alone numbering 70,000 alumni. That doesn’t count the 60,000 undergraduate and graduate students racing around its sprawling Columbus campus. Juxtapose that against the full-time MBA student body, which numbers 77 with the Class of 2021. In other words, Fisher MBAs can access the far-reaching resources of one of the world’s top research institutions – while enjoying the personal attention of an intimate community.
MORE THAN A NUMBER
“We believe Fisher’s MBA program offers the perfect combination of a smaller, elite program within a large university,” explains Roger Bailey, Co-Director of the Fisher MBA, in a written response to a P&Q inquiry. “The size of our program facilitates an individualized support system for each student and provides an authentic sense of community among students, faculty, and staff that we believe is unique to Fisher. In contrast, the large size of the Fisher College of Business opens up an enormous alumni network and allows us to attract recruiters, speakers, and faculty on par with much larger programs.”
That scope, Bailey adds, produces an encompassing academic experience that can only be matched by a handful of large MBA programs. “Being a part of Ohio State means our students can learn from world-renowned experts in a broad array of disciplines beyond traditional business topics. Coursework in law, public policy, computer science, healthcare, non-profit management and much more is all within reach. This is often reflected in our class discussions, which incorporate the diverse interests and backgrounds of our students and illustrate connections between business and other fields throughout campus. It really is the best of both worlds!”
The best part of Fisher? According to Neethi Johnson, a 2019 P&Q Best & Brightest MBA who joined JP Morgan Chase after graduation, it is being more than just another number in one of the largest student populations in the country. “The small, selective class-size of under 100 students allows you to make meaningful relationships with each and every one of your fellow classmates and faculty, all while leveraging the bountiful resources of a major public university.”
THINK SMALL AND LIVE BIG
This “Think Small” and “Live Big” mix is a big part of what attracted the Class of 2021 to Fisher’s doors. That was certainly the case for Bria Booker, a Pickerington native and senior marketing associate at Eli Lilly & Company. “I have always been an in-class learner, and having an individual classroom filled with 200+ students was not my speed. I’ve always appreciated having the “big city” feel of Columbus while also taking advantage of a personalized and engaging classroom experience. The surrounding campus resources feel individually tailored for me to succeed.”
Brooker herself “helped launch four life-saving medications” at Eli Lilly. At the same time, she co-led the marketing undergraduate internship program there, doubling its size and boosting retention to over 90%. That’s just one of the stories among the Class of 2021, a small but diverse group of impact players. For example, Kofi Oppong Asumang, a Ghana-born KPMG auditor, helped his country’s Ministry of Health battle back malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV through his advisory services. At the same time, John Sanderson, who jokes that his apartment looks like a Best Buy showroom, studied film in college before moving into virtual reality.
“At STRIVR, I was tasked with heading up their newly-formed production division. We specialized in creating virtual reality experiences to train employees at several Fortune 100 companies. Combining what I’d learned in entertainment with my love for emerging technology like VR was an incredibly fulfilling experience. It also helped to strengthen my managerial skills, as the position involved overseeing and facilitating multiple production teams concurrently.”
THE PRIDE IN KNOWING YOU HELPED MAKE SOMETHING SPECIAL
Think that sounds like work? Step into the shoes of Dean Zettler, who calculates that he has run – seriously, run – over 500 miles underwater. Before Fisher, he was a U.S. Navy Officer who’d taught at the Naval Academy and held management roles involving nuclear ballistic missile submarines. His moment of truth? It was the day he started on his second submarine – and was immediately responsible for meeting the Navy’s most demanding inspection.
“While most boats have a year to plan this four-day inspection, I had three months,” he explains. “Compounding the already-challenging situation was the fact that I knew nobody on the boat, making this my first true leadership test in the Navy. I quickly built a rapport with the crew and built a team to assist me in planning. The inspection involved coordinating 150 people performing over 300 maintenance and operating procedures. My boat finished the inspection in 75% of the allotted time and received the highest grade possible. Although I was technically the INSURV Coordinator for only the three months leading up to the inspection, our success in the event resulted in the title sticking with me for my remaining three years on the boat!”
Speaking of the U.S. Navy, the class also boasts Sandy Lopez-Zeledon, a logistics whiz who earned a U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps Commendation Medal for her work in telecommunications. And have you seen that new Matthew McConaughey TV spot where he sits in the back of his Lincoln Aviator while he goes ice fishing? Well, McConaughey owes a huge debt of gratitude to Jesse Dawson.
“I spent four years as an engineer working on the Lincoln Aviator. I led significant cost initiatives and played a crucial role in launching the vehicle. I feel pride every time I see it driving on the road, knowing I had a hand in creating that vehicle.”
A CREATIVE CLASS
Inspirational? Just wait until you meet Kate Morales, a foundation manager who holds a Master’s degree in higher education. She describes meeting her husband as her defining moment – just not in the way you might expect.
“My husband is blind and began losing his sight when we met in 2014. He was diagnosed with a rare hereditary disease and throughout our first few months of dating, his sight continually declined. Ever since then, we have been figuring out new ways to navigate the world together. I would say this is my life-defining moment because having Aaron as a partner has made me grow in patience, gratitude, and strength. Because of our ability to overcome some incredibly hard times together, now we don’t sweat the small stuff. I know that I am capable of overcoming some incredibly daunting obstacles, and I attribute this confidence to having a partner who has done the same.”
Outside class, Morales is a volunteer who also serves as a facilitator on six different national leadership institutes. Bria Booker was part of a fun-loving, all-female podcast called (wait for it) SHEnanigans. As an undergrad, Sam Zafris won a creative writing award. His prize? He was flown to New York City to meet with Goosebumps author RL Stine. Chances are, Zafris is collaborating with Shoumodip Roy, who has already published two novels!
HIGHER GMAT SCORES AND PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN
What does Roy think of the program so far? “The design of the course curriculum is one of the best features,” he writes. “Academics are described as personalized, integrated and experiential. The personalized approach provides the flexibility to choose electives that best suit your career pathway. The integration enables us to identify the connection between various business courses. And Fisher places the most emphasis on taking learning outside the classroom with the experiential implementation, solving real business issues through programs such as Global Applied Projects and Business Lab Challenge.”
The Class of 2021 is equally bullish on their classmates. “As an international student, one of my major concerns was how I would fit into the new environment,” admits Kofi Oppong Asumang. “My classmates made it effortless, inviting me to social gatherings, finding out how I’m coping with the weather, and graciously commending me for an important remark in class…These people are smart! Fisher has some of the brightest people you will ever meet; they supply brilliant examples during class discussions with rich and well-thought-through comments. And, of course, there is always a reason to laugh when you’re around these folks.”
Like most American MBA programs, the Fisher College suffered a decline in applications during the 2018-2019 recruiting cycle. In the process, class size fell from 94 to 77 students, while the school’s acceptance rate rose from 36% to 42%. That said, Fisher’s numbers increased in several key categories. For one, the average GMAT rose four points to 680, with the median score increasing from 686 to 690. Overall, undergraduate Business majors account for 38% of the class, with Arts and Sciences (27%), Social Science (21%), and Engineering (14%) rounding out the remainder of the class.
By the same token, the percentage of women in the Class of 2021 climbed from 32% to 36%. What’s more, the percentage of underrepresented minorities in the class jumped from 12% to 18%. Still, the percentage of international students slipped from 29% to 23%. Outside the United States, the current class includes students from Bangladesh, China, Ghana, India, South Korea, and Vietnam.
Go to the next page for a dozen profiles from the Class of 2021.