Of course it’s challenging to even get into Harvard, but to get in and get one of the top honors awarded to students is even more impressive. To give you an idea, in the graduating class of spring 2014 for MBAs, only the top 5% earned the “high distinction” of Baker Scholar—that’s a total of 48 students.
While students may not know they’ll be receiving these honors until they actually walk across the stage at graduation, they can subsequently use them to fill out their exceptional resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Plenty of well-placed alums have done so, including J.C. Flowers’s Thierry Porté, Year Up’s Gerald Chertavian, and Care.com’s Sheila Lirio Marcelo.
So what does it take to achieve these kinds of honors? Needless to say, a lot of hard work! Harvard Business School is full of extremely talented individuals with diverse backgrounds, and earning academic honors can be very competitive. Keeping within the top 5% academically is no easy feat. Those who achieve the distinction have to have the drive and desire to go a step above their peers.
A little background: When Harvard Business School was established in 1908, the entering class was made up of only 80 students who took classes in different buildings scattered across campus. By the early 1920s, enrollment was up to nearly 700, and Dean Wallace B. Donham started a campaign to build HBS a dedicated campus. Due in large part to an extraordinary financial gift ($5 million) from graduate George F. Baker in 1924, the HBS campus was built, with many of its original buildings still standing and in use today.
These days the MBA program has several focuses to help create students who are ready to face the challenging and ever-changing world of business:
- Global intelligence, viewing the world in terms of the interconnectedness of different countries;
- Learning in practice, training to make decisions based on potentially conflicting data;
- Entrepreneurship and innovation, exploring new business ideas through the Harvard i-Lab;
- Residential learning community, the opportunity to create an on-campus network;
- Alumni relationships, building connections that will serve students throughout their careers;
- Publications and resources, access to big name research in the field.
The Harvard Business School program has been developed to provide excellent training for the next generation of entrepreneurs, not only through its offerings, but also through the recognition of outstanding academic work with the Baker Scholar designation.