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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  • MonoCasa

    INDIANA is somehow a weird school! Low GMAT, Low GPAs, yet, in most rankings (even the pure academic rankings such as ARWU) it is always highly placed! why is that?

  • Saffer

    Indiana has a really great culture within the full time MBA class. It is a pretty small full time MBA class and students get to know each other and the faculty really well. There are many excellent (sometimes transformative) international learning experiences (e.g. meaningful consulting assignments in emerging markets). There are also very good academy programs within the MBA focused on job specific skills and knowledge (e.g. for consulting, capital markets, consumer marketing etc.). Not everyone dreams of going to a college town in the middle of Indiana for an MBA, so the applicant pool is maybe not what it should be for such a good program. But those who land up at Kelley (Indiana) generally have a great personal, academic and networking experience resulting a pretty good rankings for the program on all fronts.

  • vp

    I can’t believe Tuck and Booth are at 38 and 40 respectively when it comes to job satisfaction.

  • devils0508

    Makes sense to me. It’s kind of like how the bronze medalists at the olympics are generally happier than the silver medalists. People at Tuck and Booth compare themselves to classmates who get the ridiculously lucrative PE/VC type of jobs. At worst ranked schools, you don’t have those high performing outliers, so people aren’t upset they don’t have 7 figure jobs in their early 30’s.

  • devils0508

    What weightings did they use?:

    Kellogg is :
    MBA education: 8

    Prepared relative to other MBAs: 5

    Current job: 21

    Which seems like it should be top 10, compared to the above.

  • Dissatisfied Alumnus

    I went to one of the four top-10 stalwarts/”misery” schools noted and I concur wholeheartedly. My BBA education at a top 20 US university was far better than the crappy academics, completely full of themselves student populace, unsupportive administration, incompetent and incapable career management support, and third-rate facilities at my second business alma mater. The politics at my MBA school were also incredible. For those with unique passions or unusual industries, you are nobody–but if you’re an i-banker, you are gold. Believe me, when I make it semi-big or big, I know where my contribution dollars are flowing and it won’t be to my MBA alma mater.

  • JohnAByrne

    Would love to know where you went and so would our readers!

  • Dissatisfied Alumnus

    John, I am not in a position to share, as it serves no value to my degree’s equity. You see, even us dissatisfied folks have to be publicly positive about our school so that the rankings and reputation don’t sink. It’s an unfortunate reality. In any event, many of this website’s commenters love to mock any school’s weaknesses so I remain anon. Further, I wouldn’t want to engage in a shouting match with Sandy over the worthiness of my alma mater–a diatribe that would be filled with dismissive, condescending, caps lock commentary.

  • Nels

    I think you are talking about Stern since they are closely related to I-Banker stuff :) since Yale and Darden have not much leverage and MIT is a breeding ground for entrepreneurs. :))

  • ThisGuy

    I think DA is referring to the other part of that list… “And top 10 stalwarts like Harvard, Northwestern (Kellogg), Columbia, and Cornell (Johnson) are nowhere to be found.”
    I’d guess Columbia.

  • WekiWaka

    it is Harvard. His “fancy” language says that.

  • Dissatisfied Alumnus

    It’s interesting to hear your guesses…although I will disappoint you all by not saying anything (in the unlikely event I make it big 20 years from now, maybe then). But I wonder if I’m not alone on this. Particularly having gotten a great undergraduate business degree, I had such high expectations for my MBA. And my expectations were far from met. I think there is worthy discussion regarding whether or not MBA expectations are met or are oversold. It’s one thing to use the MBA for career ascension but it’s another thing to claim that these programs’ structure are of equal quality to that of a big corporation. I always found it contradictory to see the MBA professors wax poetic about mistakes by corporations and then see those same mistakes at my alma mater!

  • Nels

    stop being an a**h** and let us know the B school YOU FELT was terrible. It will help prospective applicants take note of it and allow them to make an informed decision rather than you beating around the bush by your whining on making it big :P

  • Mucus

    Yeah, third-rate facilities.

  • AA

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m not going to try and guess which your school is because, frankly, I don’t think it matters that much.
    But I’m interested in something else – did you find that the alumni network and the connections you built in school are as valuable as they are advertised by the schools and MBA students? A lot of people say that this is one of the main benefits of an MBA, so I’m curious about your opinion.
    An in general, what do you think were the pros and cons of your MBA experience? Which parts of it did you find to match your expectations and which do you think are overhyped bs?

  • 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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