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Begging To Differ With B School Ratings


Reader's Report

BEGGING TO DIFFER WITH B-SCHOOL RATINGS

Your business-school rankings in "The best B-schools" (Cover Story, Oct. 26) have a bit more substance than college football rankings--but not much. At least football teams occasionally play each other.

If you want to rank B-schools on two measures, pick the impact of the faculty on the advancement of knowledge and the career success of the graduates. Both would take a lot more work on your part, but the results would far surpass the superficiality of your current surveys.

Preston Townley

President and CEO

Conference Board

New York

As students at the University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business, we were disappointed that you again ranked Northwestern University's J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management ahead of Chicago. Perhaps you neglected to consider our hot-selling T-shirt, "The top 10 reasons why Kellogg is for losers":

(10) Masters of Management: fast-food diet for business lightweights.

(9) Meet lots of nice people and learn lots of neat stuff.

(8) Think Beta is a fraternity.

(7) Learn how to eat Corn Flakes in marketing class.

(6) Get toy surprise with diploma.

(5) Favorite class: checkbook accounting.

(4) The Rollerblade MBA: Here today, gone tomorrow.

(3) Receive complimentary lunches at corporate meetings and think that they're free.

(2) Question: What is a "random walk"? Answer: A dance step.

(1) Next Nobel prize will be their first.

Don Kempf

Jim Thomas

Chicago

When I decided two years ago to take my MBA at the University of Virginia, BUSINESS WEEK said that the Darden Business School was the 14th-best business school in the nation. Naturally, I was pleased to see Darden climb to No. 11 in your latest rankings. I couldn't help but notice, however, that perhaps Darden should be ranked even higher.

Indiana, Columbia, and North Carolina were all ranked well above Darden in the corporate poll. Yet the percentage of students without job offers at graduation ranges from 15% to a staggering 22% at those schools. Darden's rate was only 9%. What's more, Darden had more offers per student (2.2, compared with 1.8-2.0) and a substantially higher starting salary than all but Columbia--which seems likely to be the result of more of its graduates taking jobs in high-salary New York.

Paul Thiel

Charlottesville, Va.

Some readers may wonder why people would go to Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management for an MBA: Its annual tuition ($19,500) was the highest on your report card on the top 20 B-schools, while MIT was ranked only 13 on the list. Moreover, Sloan graduates had the third-largest outstanding MBA loan ($36,150) when they finished.

For that, 1992 Sloan graduates had 2.9 average job offers, the second-highest on your list. But the impressive statistic was the average salary increase. Sloan graduates led the other schools with post-MBA pay 71% higher than their pre-MBA pay, vs. 57% for the 20 schools as a group.

Alan W. Katzenstein

Larchmont, N.Y.

Using only the data from your own table, it is clear that:

(1) Graduates of the University of California at Berkeley's Haas School of Business make 33% more money than graduates of Indiana University at Bloomington's School of Business.

(2) Berkeley graduates see a 28% greater improvement in their earning power than Indiana graduates.

(3) Berkeley graduates are able to pay off their student-loan balances an average of 25% faster than Indiana graduates. (Berkeley ranks No. 1 in your survey in this respect.)

(4) Berkeley is far more selective. It admits 45% fewer applicants than Indiana (and I would be surprised if the quality of the applicant pool was not higher at Berkeley than at Indiana).

I submit that in the mind of a rational, wealth-maximizing individual, Berkeley would clearly rank way ahead of Indiana, not 10 places behind it.

Marcel Houtzager

Chicago

As a first-year MBA student at the College of William & Mary, I can tell you that I considered many of the schools on both of your lists. I applied and was accepted at several among them. But when it came time to focus on financial aid, the top 20 schools I considered didn't match up to what William & Mary offered.

It offers research assistantships and scholarships for many students, which can bring the cost of attendance to almost zero--even for an out-of-state student like myself. Figure that ratio!

The program is extremely rigorous, requiring six courses in the fall and seven in the spring of the first year. Largely case-oriented, the faculty is concerned with preparing us for the working world. Perhaps best of all, the small size of the program ensures a personal touch many other programs can't offer.

Gregory A. Dawson

Williamsburg, Va.

Carnegie Mellon's Graduate School of Industrial Administration (GSIA) is correctly identified as an institution undergoing change. Unfortunately, your report mentioned only the destabilizing effects of our transition.

Our new dean, Robert Sullivan, is building on the program's strengths and instituting change. Current students support the dean's efforts and are actively involved in improving the program via curriculum, grading, ethics, and other advisory groups. Examples abound of GSIA's existing strengths and recent improvements. To name a few:

The widely copied "mini-semester" system, originated at GSIA in 1970, enables students to take as many as 40 courses in two years.

Our small size (200 per class) permits intense faculty-student interaction.

In the new Financial Analysis & Security Trading (FAST) program, students trade portfolios utilizing live Reuters data feeds.

349 Members of the Classes

of 1993 and 1994

Graduate School of Industrial

Administration

Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh

So which planet have I been living on these past few years? BUSINESS WEEK reports: " . . . recession-weary deans at the elite schools also found that their worst fears of an MBA job drought didn't materialize." It's like rubbing salt in my wounds!

I was on the fast track to job-related nirvana when I enrolled in the MBA program at Columbia University in January, 1990. I brought 11 years of transnational experience in the software industry to the class of 1991. Also multifunctional business exposure in engineering, sales, marketing, operations, human resources, et al. An MBA looked like the natural next step that was needed to propel my career into overdrive.

I graduated in May, 1991, on the dean's honor list, however, without a single job offer. And to date, 17 months and over 500 resumes later, I have elicited only two further interviews and no job! You rated Columbia fifth in corporate hiring preference, but it certainly did not help my situation any.

Jack Nargundkar

San Diego


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