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Business School Student Newspapers Are Rare

MBAs recommend a variety of news services and blogs to b-school applicants for their reading materials.

MBAs offer tips on which news outlets b-school applicants should read to prepare themselves for school.
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Many business schools used to have student-run newspapers until a "series of bankruptcies" in recent years rendered nonprofit student-run media a rarity. That's according to Wainwright Yu, a former Stanford Business Reporter editor-in-chief and current board member, who says the Reporter would have gone under in 2008 if the student government at Stanford University Graduate School of Business hadn't bailed it out.

"It's ironic that in a place full of smart, resourceful, and motivated business students, the business of student-run publications is falling apart," says Yu, a 2012 Stanford MBA who is a senior product manager at Amazon.com, Inc.

Applicants may not get a leg up in admissions decisions by reading student-run publications at their prospective schools, but the articles "will help them get a truer sense of the culture and values of the schools they are considering," Yu says.

The Reporter has published several articles criticizing actions of members of the Stanford b-school community, Yu notes. "Knowing both the good and the bad," he says, "is important for any would-be MBA student."

While considering reading materials, applicants may benefit from thinking beyond the narrow goal of getting into b-school. "Preparing for business school should not be the goal of a business school applicant," says Yu. "They should rather be thinking two steps ahead and start preparing for the career they desire post-business school."

[Read about how MBA courses increasingly address real-time news.]

One way b-school applicants can let their career ambitions dictate which publications they read, Yu says, is to become familiar with typical technology publications, such as the blog TechCrunch, if they hope to transition into the tech industry, for example.

Although MBA students are likelier to read publications such as The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Harvard Business Review, than news sources that specifically address business school, applicants have different tastes, says Alex Pak, a second-year MBA student at Harvard University Business School.

"Applicants are trying to learn about many different schools, so they tend to follow business school news far closer," says Pak, the publisher of The Harbus, Harvard b-school's weekly independent student newspaper. "Sites like Beat the GMAT, GMAT Club, Poets & Quants, Businessweek.com, [and] WallStreetOasis.com are all popular sources of business school news."

Many applicants also follow the blogs of b-school admissions directors, as well as prospective schools' Twitter streams and Facebook groups, Pak adds.

[Learn how some grad school applicants use social media to bypass admissions officials.]

Although Harbus is based at Harvard, its staff believes it to be a "publication with broad appeal," Pak says, who notes that the publication's feature about student responses to the public resignation of a Goldman Sachs employee attracted a global readership.

"It's a tricky balance in making sure that we still speak to our core constituency while keeping in mind that many others will be reading our paper," he says.

It's not surprising that so few b-schools have publications like Harbus, because they tend to have small student bodies, and student interest often lies elsewhere, according to Pak.

At Stanford, the staff at the Reporter has elected to publish in print, rather than online, because it isn't aiming to reach a wider geographical base, says Yu, the Reporter board member.

[Check out opportunities for MBAs in the news industry.]

Another reason for the lack of digital availability is the Stanford culture, where many MBA students worry about jeopardizing their professional reputations by being quoted or profiled, says Dan Kessler, who earned an MBA from Stanford in 2010 and also served as an editor of the Reporter.

MBA students, who have worked hard for several years before coming to b-school, also may find being involved with a student newspaper less appealing than volunteering or playing intramural sports, Kessler says.