News & Events

New MBA Students Get Chance To Bond

By Kristen Schorsch

Barbecues, board games, and a ropes course this week aim to bond 62 incoming MBA students at the University of Iowa, which officials say could be UI's smallest MBA class in 10 years.

The orientation week, which begins today and ends Saturday, is for students participating in the Tippie Master of Business Administration's Involvement, Motivation, Professionalism, Achievement, Challenge, Teamwork orientation week.

Students, such as Daryn Suharto, 26, of Indonesia, will get a taste this week of their 21-month-long MBA program, which is team-focused and involves several group projects.

"I think what I'm going to get out of (orientation) is the opportunity to bond with the other students and the opportunity to build up leadership skills," said Suharto, who plans to pursue a product management job.

Suharto is also bucking a nationwide trend of fewer people applying to and being accepted to MBA programs.

In the past 10 years, UI has had between 70 to 100 students in its full-time MBA program, such as the students in this week's orientation, said Gary Gaeth, associate dean for the UI Tippie School of Management. This fall, the program has 62 new students.

Reasons for the decline could be stricter visa requirements for international students or people not willing to leave their jobs for graduate school during uncertain economic times, Gaeth said. UI's program requires job experience. Schools also have been raising standards for applicants while helping their students get better jobs, Gaeth said.

"We're adding more value by expecting more," he said.

Though small, this fall's class also has the highest GMAT scores ever, a test needed to get into graduate business school, said Dwight Bailey, director of student services for the Tippie MBA program.

As for this week's orientation, UI created the experience to help students get to know each other and the community before classes begin Aug. 22, Bailey said. The orientation especially helps the roughly 30 international students in the program get acclimated and understand a new culture, he said.

"The diversity you have on a team really creates a better product when they're working with a particular business," Bailey said.

UI has a total of 130 students in its full-time MBA program, more than 750 students in its evening MBA program and more than 100 students in its executive MBA program. The evening and executive programs are located off-campus.


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