Which B-Schools Have The Happiest Grads?

by Jeff Schmitt on

happy graduatesIf you graduated from business school in 2008, you probably have some stories to tell. Back then, you crossed the stage and hugged your fellow graduates like every class before you. Sure, the horizon appeared dark and menacing, you thought. But it was probably no different than what the classes of 1990 and 2000 had witnessed.

But something was different. In the following months, you learned just how connected we were. No institution was too big to fail. And your partners’ failings were suddenly your own. Bear Stearns’ fall wasn’t an economic nuclear bomb that leveled entire industries. It was more like a biological weapon, an unseen force that swept across businesses, leaving only physical structures in its wake. Back then, organizations flattened as banks mopped up their balance sheets. Company mantras become “all hands on deck” and “hold onto what you got.”

It was uncharted territory, marked by hard stops and sputtering starts. If “kill all the lawyers” was the clarion call of the 17th century, “blame all the MBAs” was its bookend in the 21st.

The class of 2008 was ground zero for this upheaval. So it’d be intriguing to check back in with them. Recently, Forbes did just that. As part of compiling their business school rankings, Forbes contacts graduates five years after graduation for feedback on their alma maters. In this case, Forbes surveyed 17,000 class of 2008 graduates from top 50 schools. They received over 4,600 responses.  In the survey, respondents shared “their level of satisfaction with their education, with the preparation it gave them and with their current job.”

So which school comes out on top? Not surprisingly, Stanford, which is ranked #1 overall by Forbes, also produces the happiest graduates. How happy? Well, Stanford scores high across every key metric according to Forbes:

“[Stanford] leads the way, ranking in the top five among schools across all three levels of satisfaction. Stanford grads were the most satisfied in our two previous surveys of alumni as well. The country’s most selective b-school (acceptance rate of 7%) also topped our ROI ranking in 2013.

Stanford grads had the top paychecks in our 2013 survey with median total compensation of $221,000 five years out of school. Stanford grads are highly sought after, and they have the pick of the litter when it comes to employment opportunities. The top five landing spots for the Class of 2012 were consultancies Bain, the Boston Consulting Group, and McKinsey, as well as tech giants Apple and Google. These companies all rank among the top six most desirable employers for M.B.A.s in Universum’s annual survey (Amazon was the other firm in Universum’s top six).”

Forbes also lauds Stanford’s knack for churning out entrepreneurs. As Adi Bittan, a class of 2008 alum who launched a customer service platform claims, “no place does a better job of getting you to believe in yourself so much that you take the plunge into entrepreneurship so that you can change the world.”

So where do the rest of the schools stack up when it comes to alumni satisfaction? Are Harvard alums crimson with joy or anger?  Have Teppers grown chipper? And which schools have come out of nowhere to make the top 10? Check out the chart below:

Rank School MBA Education Prepared Relative to Other MBAs Current Job Satisfaction
1 Stanford 1 1 4
2 UC-Berkeley (Haas) 9 19 1
3 Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) 8 6 15
4 Michigan State (Broad) 3 22 6
5 Indiana (Kelley) 4 2 36
6 Dartmouth (Tuck) 2 4 38
7 Duke (Fuqua) 5 9 18
8 Rice (Jones) 23 21 3
9 Wisconsin 13 12 10
10 U. of Chicago (Booth) 6 3 40

There must something in the Bay Area air, as Haas graduates rank below Stanford overall – and even maintain a higher job satisfaction than their Palo Alto rivals. Then again, as Forbes notes, Haas grads often work for many of the same consulting and tech employers as Stanford.

Dartmouth  grads rank just behind Stanford when it comes to satisfaction with their alma mater. Not surprising, according to Forbes, as Tuck alumni’s “giving rate topped 70% participation for the third straight year in 2013, which is nearly triple the average of its peer schools.”

Despite ranking #22 overall in Forbes’ rankings, Michigan State (Broad) came in #3 when it comes to being satisfied with their education. In terms of preparation, Indiana (Kelley) ranks just below Stanford according to the class of 2008. And life is nice for Rice graduates, as Jones ranks #3 in current job satisfaction. Considering their lofty overall rankings, the University of Chicago (Booth) and Tuck both stick out for having such low job satisfaction, despite their salaries rising by $92,600 and $71,000 respectively over the past five years. Apparently, money doesn’t buy happiness.

So which schools failed to crack the top 10? Certainly, “Where’s Waldo” is likely to be replaced by “Where’s Wharton.”And top 10 stalwarts like Harvard, Northwestern (Kellogg), Columbia, and Cornell (Johnson) are nowhere to be found. And the same applies to MIT (Sloan), the University of Virginia (Darden), NYU (Stern), and Yale. Apparently, the misery index is higher among alums at these schools.

The class of 2008 managed to weather the storm, some better than others. In two years, the class of 2010 will have its turn. In a reeling economy, these graduates walked into a contracted and cautious marketplace. Question is, did their educations prepare them to thrive in the aftermath? And have they found the same level of happiness as their predecessors? This class should be a fascinating study!

Let us know your thoughts. Were you happy with your program’s education? Why or why not?

To read Poets and Quants’ analysis of Forbes’ most recent business school rankings, click here and here.

Source: Forbes

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  • Dissatisfied Alumnus

    AA: So short answer, no, the connections weren’t great. I think that relates to being in a non-core industry/function. If I was in i-banking, consulting, etc. maybe my experience would have been different. I think the MBA is a powerful stamp and gives credibility, but networking at my school tends to be more about functions/industry. And in any event, if I’m not in brand management or VC, for example, the students and alumni aren’t as interested in chatting with me and realistically vice versa.

    Pros — getting the degree and brand equity, leaving work for a few years, getting to be experimental in classes and hone my long-term path
    Cons– expensive time out of work, extreme favoritism towards select classmates (of which I was a beneficiary in undergrad but not at MBA), mediocre instruction at times, insufficient focus on leadership skills

    I think the BS is that you are considered an individual and not a number. But is that really the case at a major institution? These schools care about money first and foremost. Money from tuition (including well-funded internationals), from donors, etc. And they care about rankings, sadly, which impacts who they admit. I hated that my class included high GMAT scorers that were morally unethical (a few) or exhibited limited social skills (more) or were young and had nothing to offer in the classroom due to limited work experience (many). So the school takes young students with low salaries and then is advantaged in the rankings b/c their salary goes to $100k+ when they graduate. I just feel that there is so much gamesmanship within a lot of top programs. Schools should be more genuinely focused on excellent teaching, leadership skills, etc. and truly focusing on every student’s career advancement. We pay so much to attend. I wonder if I took a free role at a PE shop (if I were in PE) for two years that I would have learned more than paying to watch my resources get allocated to other students.

  • Nels

    In Bloomberg Businessweek’s survey of B-Schools, a person made a similar comment, “If you are in I Banking or MC”, you are set for life there, else it is extremely difficult to break into ; and the school my dear ppl is Columbia. Great for finance and MC types I guess. Not much for other industries. Thank you DA for letting us know more abt Columbia :)

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