Many new MBAs approach the institution with a “I am going to get out of there” attitude, but they quickly find themselves attached to their alma mater.
An informal study by The Wall Street Journal of recent valedictorians from 14 top North American universities discovered that this attachment is palpable for E.S.G. (essential mass), and even higher than it is for M.B.A.s who have spent four years on top of their game. E.S.G. students interviewed by The Journal mentioned that they took numerous summer internships or offered academic assistance to colleagues at their institutions. A lot of financial aid goes toward former students who need it.
For example, in the 2016-17 school year, Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) awarded nearly $5 million in full or partial aid to 933 alumni, more than half of them E.S.G.s. Of this number, 238 were E.S.G.s who had more than one student in the school. In 2015-16, about $4.3 million went to 262 E.S.G.s. At Stanford Graduate School of Business, 815 E.S.G.s received a total of $5.4 million in aid in 2016-17.
“It’s hard to imagine the competitive environment we’re in today without the person who works for us from high school all the way through,” said Dr. Diana Golkin, a dean at HGSE. “So we have developed a strategy to support those of us who are returning or perhaps returning to work after a nontraditional path.”
Some schools are also actively cultivating their E.S.G. alumni. “With E.S.G.s, we have a large pool of resources that we can use to provide educational and technical support for students who want to work in the work world,” said Dr. Golkin. “We have helped thousands of young people achieve their dreams through this program over the years.”
Stanford Graduate School of Business, which has a strong community of E.S.G. alumni, emphasized its E.S.G. programs.
“We’re thinking about a new vision in terms of what can be done for E.S.G. graduates,” said Dr. Ronny Plummer, dean of the business school. “We’re really at the cutting edge of thinking about, is there a place for us to exist in the economic landscape to provide support for E.S.G. graduates across the economic spectrum.”
Some students see their school-supported E.S.G. programs as a way to support their future careers. “It seems like they would work really well for me as I go through the process of getting the next MBA job,” said Daniel Le, a Stanford graduate who has returned to work at the school. “I was very fortunate that I could rely on HGS to be able to help me with so many of the college graduation tasks, the financial aid tasks and the internship and placement things.”
Dr. Plummer said that focusing on E.S.G.s goes beyond traditional benefits such as financial aid and placement assistance.
“We’re planning on a different view of what we can do to support the future of our MBA students,” said Dr. Plummer. “So we’re thinking about ways to provide mentors and outside education support, to serve as teachers. We’re also thinking about providing career-development and industrial placements that are going to help them in their pursuit of their ultimate corporate job.”
Why would a well-educated MBA feel the need to return to school? One factor is the market for MBA graduates. Today, many companies are recruiting.
“There is a place for those who are excited about going back to school,” said Julie-Jane Cooper, director of the school’s Women’s Leadership Initiative. “We have many very well-educated professionals coming back from outside the country. This isn’t the traditional return to school. This is really our campus. This is home. We want these people to know and feel they belong here.”