Poets&Quants’ Most Popular Stories Of 2021


When you think about MBA programs, you also automatically think that the degree will land you in a job better than the one you already have. So it may come as a surprise that the two giants of MBA education, Harvard Business School and Stanford Graduate School of Business, lag behind quite a number of business schools in placing their latest graduates into jobs.

In fact, a slim majority of schools–51 to be exact–in U.S. News’ Top 100 MBA programs boasted better job placement rates within three months of graduation last year than Harvard Business School and 44 of the Top 100 had put more of their MBA grads into jobs than Stanford. Many of the schools that bested HBS and GSB are not necessarily the highest-ranked programs. Indeed, more of them are schools that tend to get overlooked and underestimated by many MBA candidates.

Who would ever have imagined, for example, that Texas State University’s McCoy College of Business or Iowa State University’s Ivy College of Business would trash Harvard and Stanford in job rates? Yet, in the midst of the pandemic last year, 100% of McCoy’s MBAs landed jobs three months after commencement, while at Iowa State 96.6% of its graduating MBAs were gainfully employed at the same time.

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Ipshita Agarwal applied to just three business schools: Harvard, Wharton, and Stanford. She got accepted to all three. She tells Poets&Quants how she did it. Courtesy photo


It’s the most rarefied air in the MBA universe: admission to Harvard Business School, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford Graduate School of Business.

We don’t know how many applicants achieve the H/S/W triple crown each year, because the schools don’t communicate with each other about admissions overlap, and they don’t report individual names of admits, leaving any publicity to the admits themselves. But the fact is that it can’t be very many. Wharton’s acceptance rate for the Class of 2022 was a miserly 23%. Harvard’s was even lower: 9.2%, down from recent intakes. And despite opening its doors just a bit wider, Stanford last year continued its streak of being the hardest B-school in the world to get into, with an estimated admit rate of just 8.9%.

Ipshita Agarwal doesn’t have to imagine how hard it is to gain admission to even one of these programs, let alone all three. She managed the feat, joining the highly select club last year before deciding to defer for a year because of coronavirus. This fall Ipshita, a former investment analyst who currently works for a San Francisco-based credit reporting startup, will join Stanford’s Class of 2023.

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In business, you learn to ‘read a room.’ You watch and assess, always looking for clues on how to make the right impression. You size people up, seeking those who convey confidence, warmth, and influence. At best, this practice helps you pair up with those who share similar styles and interests. At worst, it triggers comparisons — competitiveness that dredges up the worst possible question …

Do I really belong?

Many MBAs ask themselves that same question when they first arrive on campus. Picture it: they are sitting next to NFL stars and decorated officers, quant jocks, and tech gurus. Their classmates likely include Ivy Leaguers who check all the boxes and forces of nature with 780 GMATs and a half dozen patents.

Who wouldn’t be intimidated by such company?

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