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By Beth Tidmarsh 

We are thrilled to welcome the Class of 2017 to campus today, and data from the incoming class of students indicates that Kellogg’s community is about to reach a new level of diversity and intellectual merit.

Within the Class of 2017, a record-breaking 43 percent of students are women — representing a 5 percent increase over last year (and a significant change from the 29% women when I was at Kellogg in 2003!). This class includes representation from more than 50 different citizenships and cultural backgrounds. At the same time, the average GMAT score of incoming students was 724, an all-time high. From all angles, this is a stellar class!

These advancements are hardly due to serendipity. Over the past few years, we at Kellogg have made a concerted effort to attract more women to the school while of course keeping the high bar for our pool of applicants. By taking a comprehensive approach to our admissions and remaining steadfast in our commitment to diversity, we’ve attracted and mobilized an outstanding group of new students. Clearly more and more women are finding that Kellogg’s rigorous yet supportive culture is a great place to take risks, start businesses, build a network and energize a career.

Close partnerships with organizations such as the Forte Foundation and the Women’s Business Association (WBA) have been instrumental to this progress. One of the largest and most active organizations on campus, the WBA has supported the admissions team in seeking new opportunities to engage with prospective students. Thanks to the WBA, we’ve had the chance to connect with hundreds of exceptionally talented and high-performing women through a number of events, including Women’s Preview Day, where prospective students can participate in sample classes, hear from student panels, and network with potential future classmates; as well as Alumnae Dinners, where students can connect with female business leaders who are Kellogg graduates.

Learn more about Kellogg’s Fall Preview Days.

Another source of our success: We don’t just talk about gender diversity at Kellogg. It’s part of our DNA. Consider, for example, that Kellogg was the first business school to appoint a female dean, Sally Blount, now entering her fifth year of school leadership. Seven of our senior leadership team members are women. And our alumni network boasts outstanding female leaders like Ellen Kullman ’83, CEO of DuPont and one of Forbes’ “Most Powerful Women,” and Jenny Lee ’01, managing partner at GGV and the first woman to make the top 10 on the Forbes Midas list of the world’s leading high-tech venture capitalists.

While we’re pleased to report a higher GMAT average for the incoming class of 2017, we want to make clear that test scores are just one element considered by the admissions team when reviewing an MBA application. We use a comprehensive and holistic process to evaluate each applicant and focus on getting to know each as an individual, including components like the in-person interview and the opportunity to speak directly to the admissions committee via the video essay.

With the incoming students starting CIM (Complete Immersion in Management, our new student orientation), we’re excited to open the doors to Jacobs and watch the halls fill with a new crop of ambitious and energetic students. It’s also exciting to think that this will be the first MMM and 2Y class to graduate from our new global hub!

To students in the Class of 2017: Welcome – We’re thrilled to have you on board.

To applicants to the Class of 2018: We can’t wait to meet you. Our Round 1 deadline is September 22nd.

Beth Tidmarsh ’03 is the director of admissions for full-time MBA programs at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. As a vice president at Jones Lang LaSalle, she led and executed tenant representation and corporate solutions work for companies such as Xerox, KPMG and Huron Consulting Group. Prior to attending Kellogg, Beth spent six years in consulting for Accenture based out of Chicago and Sydney.