MBA class defies trends, breaks records

Go! program helps newest Olin students gear up for rigorous program

Balancing a neon orange cone on one’s head while crawling under a rope strung low between two trees is not what most students had in mind when they applied to the Olin Business School MBA program at Washington University in St. Louis.

But the “conehead” exercise and other challenges are part of the two-week Gateway: Olin Program, also known as GO!, designed to prepare first-year MBAs for the rigors of graduate school and to give them a jumpstart on the curriculum.

GO! involves team-building exercises in and outside the classroom combined with a nonstop schedule of courses on critical thinking and organizational behavior, career counseling and a community service project.


The 148 members of the Olin MBA class of 2012 who participated in this year’s GO! Program, held Aug. 9-20, hail from 20 different countries. With top GMAT scores and outstanding GPAs, the class represents the best of a highly competitive pool of applicants, says Evan Bouffides, assistant dean and director of MBA admissions and financial aid.

“This class has broken virtually every relevant admissions metric in the history of Olin,” Bouffides says. “This includes total application volume, GMAT average, GPA average and selectivity.”

Applications to Olin’s full-time MBA program hit an all-time high this year — up 26 percent over one year ago and 49 percent higher than in 2008. Of the 1,529 applications received this year, 437 were admitted, yielding a 29 percent selectivity rate.

Other stats on the Olin MBA class of 2012:

  • The majority of incoming Olin MBA students have undergraduate degrees in business, engineering and economics; 21 percent come from the social sciences and humanities.
  • Eighteen MBA students are pursuing joint degrees in fields such as law, social work, engineering, accounting, finance and architecture.
  • The median age of the students is 27.
  • Countries of origin are Australia, China, Germany, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, South Korea, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates and the United States.
  • Three are Iraqi war veterans, several are black-belt martial arts experts, a number are accomplished musicians, and one is a stand-up comedian.

Second-year MBA students who helped shepherd the new class through the GO! Program unanimously praised their new schoolmates and pronounced them ready to meet the challenges of the next two years at Olin Business School.